Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 Zencha Fuji Superior Shincha

Since I've already fulfilled all of the numerous duties I had this month, I can finally enjoy free time with all of its pleasant advantages – in my case, this means I have much more time for proper enjoyment of tea and for this blog.

This Shincha arrived from Zencha almost two weeks ago, as I've ordered it few days after enjoying their highest grade of Shizuoka Fukamushicha, Fuji the Ultimate. Ordering again, I kept in mind that this time, I want to try something much simpler from their offering, something fresh to drink often and in large quantities as the spring is quickly changing to summer outside. Therefore, I've chosen the lowest grade of their Shizuoka Shincha offering, called Fuji Superior and was looking forward to seeing what does Zencha offer for the modest price.

Compared to this year's Fuji the Ultimate, this Shincha expectably has much more straightforward, sharp and simple smell, less sweet and more vegetal – just as I would expect from nice fresh example of this grade of daily Fukamushicha. The leaves are also a bit less shiny and uniform, yet still seem quite nice and, most importantly, lively and fresh.

Brewed with quite hot water, the first infusion is bright green in color, transparent and has a gentle, more subtle smell than the dry leaves. In terms of taste, this tea corresponds with its scent very well, being round, quite simple and refreshing, or, in one word, once again literally green. This is exactly what I fancy the most about Shincha and am looking forward to every spring – the chance to really taste liquid, concentrated natural greenness, which can be found exclusively in form of Shincha. The aftertaste of this brew is somehow dry and sharp, yet still cooling and refreshing, lacking most of the typically sweet, noble notes – in case of this tea, after all, these aren't the tones to search for.

The second infusion is poured right as the water touches the leaves, resulting in much more opaque, vivid-green brew with slight astringency in taste, similar to that of young, just picked fruit. The taste is still very straightforward and simple, though not inevitably flat, preventing the tea from being boring. The following aftertaste is longest of all infusions, filling the mouth with pleasant, mild astringency and simple freshness.

The third and fourth infusions are very much alike – yellowish green in color, opaque and humbly simple in taste, now with predominantly dry notes and, especially in the fourth infusion, also a typical sharp woodsiness.

Fuji Superior is a nice, fairly inexpensive daily Fukamushi Shincha and I've been enjoying it in that manner for the past week and something. Finally, I'm glad I found some time to play with it a little bit today, confirming the opinion that even though there isn't much specialness to discover in this tea, it's exactly the humble, unpretentious simplicity which makes it worth drinking.


  1. The tea you describe here was withdrew by Zencha, because found radioactive.

  2. "Though Shizuoka prefecture declared that the radioactivity did not exceed the provisional regulation values indicated by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, we have decided that we stop to ship all our Shizuoka tea harvested this year, except "Fuji The Ultimate", until we can confirm the safety of the products we sell. We continue to offer Shizuoka tea harvested in the previous year, 2010.
    Thank you for your understanding in this regards."

    Taken from Zencha's site.

  3. Hi Alex,
    first, let me say that I know about the announcement on Zencha's website for some time now and still, I continue to drink this tea - saying that this tea along with the other 2011 Shizuoka teas were withdrawn because they were found radioactive isn't exactly correct. The fact is that the rest of their teas haven't been tested yet, as stated in the announcement - and, for that, they decided not to offer them until the test results prove their safety. I understand Zencha in this matter and find their decision very responsible and correct, just as I would expect from a serious Japanese company. Even though they believe (and so do I) that their teas aren't radioactive, they want to be fair with their customers and able to prove that they are right before they start to offer the product again. Note that all of their Shizuoka teas come from the same producer in Makinohara area and, therefore, I would say there is only a little chance that when Fuji The Ultimate successful passed the test, the other teas, originating in the same place and produced in similar manner won't.

  4. I was shocked when the first time looked at this page:
    Look at the first row.

  5. However I understand that radiations spread unreliably in patches so it's extremely difficult to assess that one tea is radioactive just averaging the readings on neighboring tea estates for example. So it can happen that the tea from Zencha is perfectly safe being from Makinohara, while some other teas from Makinhoara itself are found slightly radioactive.
    The ideal situation would be to test all teas. This is proved difficult and expensive hence my concept of the precaution principle.

  6. P.S: fantastic blog yours. Extremely informative, wonderful pictures. It's very valuable also because I've just found two vendors in the EU just thanks to your blog.

  7. Alex,
    the numbers measured in the test results you posted still do not shock me or make me worry - notice that no Shizoka products exceeded the limits. And, even though the numbers may seem high, being often three digit, I've learned that many kinds of food have much higher natural radiation - some normal vegetables can have natural radiation higher than 500 Bq/kg (so, if they would be taken into this test, they would probably have to get banned for exceeding limits, even if they weren't grown near any nuclear energy source :-)).
    I agree with your words - testing all teas individually would probably be the best solution to calm down the customers, though probably a pricy one - therefore, I think it depends on each company's personal decision whether to test all teas or not. It seems like Zencha decided to let their teas undergo the tests, which I find very responsible from them and am happy about this decision of theirs.
    And thank you, I really appreciate and am glad that you like my blog - you are always welcome to drop a comment anywhere here. :-)