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Saying Goodbye to Summer With a Sip
Ozaemon from Toki city, Gifu great balance of umami and acidity

Ozaemon from Toki city, Gifu great balance of umami and acidity

September signals the waning of summer and the inevitable change in seasons. It’s a profound time for all who love summer. In NYC, the days remain warm and mostly sunny. It’s a nice transition to what will follow. September is also a time when sake brewers everywhere debut their newest offerings. And for past five years, it’s also a time to welcome in a new batch of sake to New York City by a bevy a sake brewers who come to our fair city and show their latest wares at the NY Sake Expo. We happily accepted the task of checking out the Expo (as we have done the past few years) and enjoyed talking to many of the representatives and brewers from sakaguras all over Japan as well as some in the U.S. Please join us in recognizing and enjoying the magic that is sake...

Kakeya from Unnan city, Shimane. Full of Umami, sooooo good!

Kakeya from Unnan city, Shimane. Full of Umami, sooooo good!

Shochu maker Kyoya from Miyazaki, introducing Heihachiro. It goes well with fatty food, such as Tuna Tartar so well!

Shochu maker Kyoya from Miyazaki, introducing Heihachiro. It goes well with fatty food, such as Tuna Tartar so well!

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Ocha Nouveau
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Right now is an exciting time of year for green tea (ocha) lovers and that includes us here at Japan Suite. The first new crop of Japanese green tea is now being picked and is going on sale for a limited time.  It is called shincha (新茶), which comes simply from “shin” (new) and "cha" (tea). These are the first new leaves of the year, and a small batch of the first picking is used for shincha--a lightly processed tea that has a wonderfully delicate and unique flavor.

New Tea, 2014. Courtesy of Itoen

New Tea, 2014. Courtesy of Itoen

Shincha should be enjoyed in the next few months (May-July) to fully appreciate it’s enticing aroma and light sweetness that invigorates the taste buds with a refreshing subtlety. It is less bitter and lower in caffeine than other green teas. I love good ocha, and shincha has a special place in my heart.

New Tea, 2014. Courtesy of Itoen

New Tea, 2014. Courtesy of Itoen

Shincha is made from tea leaves that have been very lightly steamed immediately after harvesting. During the winter, tea plants store up life-giving nutrients, which nurture the growth of spring shoots and new leaves. The first growth shincha leaves are full of these nutrients.

Japanese celebrate this special, delicate and fleeting new tea of the year -- and we encourage you to do the same if you are in Japan or fortunate enough to find shincha in your city. I know I am planning to head out this weekend in New York City to search for one of my favorite things of the season. Oishisou!