Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Sugimoto America
Temomi Shin Cha is one of the rarest and highest quality Japanese green teas. The word temomi means “hand-rolled”. From the meticulous picking of the best young tea leaves to the final process of kneading the leaves to fine needles, the whole practice is done by the hands of elite temomi artisans. A method used in Japan centuries ago, the temomi technique is vanishing due to the adoption of today’s machines to produce tea. Temomi Shin Cha is offered to the Japanese Emperor each year in a ceremony celebrating the first tea of spring.
Learn more about this tea here.
I have tried Shin Cha teas in the past, but I have never had this very rare Temomi Shin Cha tea before. What an amazing opportunity to try it!
This is one of the finest green teas I’ve yet to try.
The dry leaf is long and elegant. The photo above almost suggests an appearance of a Japanese Sencha, and … it does look a little bit like that, except that the leaves are longer. These aren’t a finely cut leaf, they’re the tender, young leaves – whole – that have been assiduously rolled by hand. Each tiny, beautiful leaf has been rolled into a long, very slender, sleek “needles.” They’re gorgeous.
Since I do not own a kyusu, I steeped these leaves in my gaiwan. My gaiwan is not the “standard” gaiwan, it has a fairly wide, shallow chamber and it is the perfect size to accommodate these precious leaves. How this tea is brewed is very important. The temperature should be only 100°F – yeah! I did a double take on that temperature too. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a tea where such a low temperature was required!
Fortunately, my Breville One-Touch doubles as a variable tea kettle as well, and while it doesn’t have a setting for a temperature so low, it does show the temperature as it builds and I was able to pull the kettle at 100°F. The steep time is 2 minutes. After two minutes, look at the leaves and see if they’ve opened. They were beginning to open at this point, but not fully open, so I gave the tea one more minute. After the extra minute, I strained the tea and sat back to enjoy my this rare tea experience!
The color of the tea is very pale. But even though there isn’t a lot of color to the liquid, there is a LOT of flavor and texture. It is sweet and the texture is thick. Thicker than any other Japanese green tea I’ve ever tried (Matcha is not included in that statement.) It is rich and buttery with a strong vegetative taste that is somewhat grassy. Sweet and grassy.
In the literature that comes along with this tea, it says:
Temomi Shincha is consumed in small amounts, very much akin to enjoying a rich and strong flavored espresso.
And I get that. No, I’m not tasting espresso here. But it does have a very strong and forward flavor, just like you might experience if you were to be sipping on an espresso – but without being brash like espresso can be. Hey, what can I say, I’m not into espresso … I’m a tea drinker through and through.
For the second infusion, I used 130°F water and steeped for only 1 minute. This cup is not quite as thick as the first was, but it maintains the same level of flavor and the same sweet, grassy, rich taste that I enjoyed in the first cup. Still buttery, but because it isn’t as thick, it doesn’t seem quite as buttery or creamy as the first cup was. It still has a really luscious texture though, it’s just a little lighter. I notice a bit of astringency to this cup.
I brewed my third infusion the same way, but I added 15 seconds onto the infusion time, steeping for 1 minute 15 seconds. The extra 15 seconds made a difference, and I’m getting that same soft, thick texture that I experienced in the first cup with this cup. It’s thick and buttery and delightful.
This third cup may be my favorite of the three. It has the same rich, brothy texture of the first cup, but with a softer vegetative presentation, the flavor is a little softer and this accentuates the creamy texture.
And because I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to this tea just yet, I decided to do something that I don’t ordinarily do: eat the leaves! I brought the kettle to a boil, and poured the boiling water over the leaves to soak them for five minutes to remove any tannic qualities of the leaves. So after I finished drinking this tea, I enjoyed a warm salad of tea leaves and a light dressing of sesame oil and orange. It was tasty!
This is – unquestionably – an exceptional tea and offers not just a journey that’s well worth taking but also represents an opportunity to taste a rare tea that is available only in limited quantities. I highly, highly recommend this tea to all those who truly love tea.