What-Cha's Australian Sencha and Shincha

What-Cha’s Australian Greens Sencha and Shincha

I decided to group my thoughts on What-Cha’s Australian teas together, mostly because I think that Alistair of What-Cha should sell them in his “Discover X Region” sampler collection, at the same time because they have the same faults. I was originally planning on featuring all four in one post, but the post was just too long, so I decided to break it up into two parts.

Origin: Two Rivers Green Tea, Acheron Valley, Victoria, Australia
Harvest: Second Flush December 2014
Cultivar: Sayamakaori, Yabukita and Okuhikaori
Elevation: 200m

So I recently got my What-Cha package and decided to immediately try one of the new Australian teas. And if you were like me you may have been confused with the description. How could a tea that was harvested in December be considered second flush, until you remember Australia is in the southern hemisphere and the seasons are inverted (Summer is from December to February, Autumn is from March to May, Winter is from June to August and Spring is September to November, roughly). It took me a much longer time than I care to admit to realize this. Anyways What-Cha describes this as:
Two Rivers Green Tea started producing tea in 2001 with the aid and encouragement of Japanese tea experts who were seeking to encourage Japanese style tea production for the domestic Japanese market. The Two Rivers farm was selected as it has the same latitude of southern Japanese tea farms, idea temperatures, rainfall and great quality topsoil. 
I wonder how old the tea plants are that this tea is made from. Regardless it is interesting to note that 25% of the price goes back to the farmer and this sencha is a blend of leaves from the Sayamakaori, Yabukita and Okuhikaori cultivars. While I am not that knowledgeable on Japanese tea cultivars I have never heard of Okuhikaori before, though judging by the first syllable Oku I’m assuming it is a slow growing tea, perhaps a relatively new cultivar. I’ve heard of Okuyutaka, Okumidori and Okumusashi before, perhaps it derives from one of these. I do know that the Yabukita and the Sayamamidori are more established cultivars. Both cultivars are known to be cold resistant and produce very aromatic leaves.   

Dry Leaves: The leaves are a mix of long flattish pieces with smaller twisted leaves. The majority of the leaves are light green with a little bit of forest green and yellow, although there are a bit of blueish green small pieces mixed in as well. I was a little surprised that there was not much of an aroma to these leaves especially since two of the cultivars that make up this sencha blend are known for having a distinct aroma.
Temperature: 165oF (+5 for every subsequent steeping)
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds (+ Fifteen seconds for every subsequent steeping)
Aroma: Grassy
Flavor: Grassy, Sweet Corn and Citrus
Tasting Notes: This is a rather interesting tea; I cannot help, but compare it to What-Cha’s Nepal Second Flush Sencha. Like the Nepal sencha it lacks the unami taste; while I did not feel the Nepal Sencha was lacking because of the absence of unami (mostly because it felt like the perfect hybrid of a Japanese and Chinese tea) this Australian Sencha feels like it is missing something. I am not saying it is a bad tea, but it feels very similar to eating your favorite dish only to discover the chef forgot to add an important ingredient.

Regardless this is a very thin and light tea, definitely an Asamushi (light steamed) Sencha rather than a Fukamushi (deep steamed) Sencha. Despite its thinness this is a rather nice tea, or perhaps because of it. There is some astringency to this tea, not a whole lot, but still enough to be quite pleasant. I imagine if this was a stronger tea I’d probably have missed the astringency entirely.

I was a little disappointed with this tea, the aroma of the dry leaves and brewed tea was rather weak, but I can overlook that since it was quite pleasant. At the time of writing this What-Cha is selling this for $6.90 for 50g and 25% of the price goes back to the farmer. This is definitely worth checking out, while I would hesitate to describe this tea as being representative of Sencha (Japanese ones at least) it is still rather nice. It is definitely better than most Chinese senchas I’ve had in the past.

Origin: Two Rivers Green Tea, Archeron Valley, Victoria, Australia
Harvest: First Flush, October 2014
Cultivar: Sayamakaori, Yabukita and Okuhikaori
Elevation: 200m

Onto the Shincha!

Dry Leaves:  The leaves are darker than the Sencha and the aroma is still rather weak. Although this time there is a slightly stronger (than the Sencha) vegetal aroma.

Temperature: 165oF (+5 for every subsequent steeping)
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds (+ Fifteen seconds for every subsequent steeping)
Aroma: Grassy
Flavor: Grassy and Nutty
Tasting Notes:  This is quite a simple tea. It was a little strange to taste nutty flavors in a Shincha, I am use to tasting them in Senchas and later teas, but not a tea that was harvested so early. Regardless this is quite a thin tea, like the Sencha, but once again it is not unpleasant. Unlike the Sencha there is almost no astringency in this.

At the time of writing this What-Cha is selling this Shincha for $7.50 for 50g. As for whether or not I think it is worth checking out that is a little more complicated. While it is quite inexpensive, it is the weakest of What-Cha’s Australian teas. I think it is worth checking out just to see what an Australian grown Japanese inspired tea taste like, but this is not the kind of tea that you’d base an order around. Everything wrong with this tea (thinness, lackluster aroma, lack of astringency, etc) is present in the rest of What-Cha’s Australian teas, but the other three teas have some redeeming characteristic. Nevertheless I do feel What-Cha needs to have an Australian green tea sampler.

While I still have two more of What-Cha’s Australian teas to write about I am a little curious about Australian teas. I must preface this by saying I know very little of growing tea and even less about commercial farming so all that is following is my pure uneducated conjecture so take everything with a grain of salt.

I cannot help, but think the thinness of the tea is a result of how it was harvested or even where it was grown. According to Two River’s website (http://www.tworiversgreentea.com.au/harvesting-and-growing/) their Sencha is picked forty-five days after their Shincha which as far as I am aware is pretty standard in the Japanese tea industry. While the Sencha definitely had a stronger taste then the Shincha I cannot help, but think they are harvesting their Shincha just a tad early. Perhaps it is the blend of different cultivars that leads to the thinness? Or even the age of the plants, Two Rivers was established in 2001 so these plants are undoubtedly not that old perhaps the plants are not old enough. I know that many see plants under a certain age as not suitable for harvesting teas in part to promote growth as well as many see the tea from immature plants as poor. Another possibility is how the tea is processed; perhaps there is nothing wrong with the tea itself and the issue lies in the fact these tea was processed to be an Asamushi Senchas. 


Just a guy who likes tea.


  1. Fascinating! I must try one of these Australian teas, the idea intrigues me immensely.Excellent write up!

    1. Thanks, they are are rather interesting even though they are a work in progress. I'd be interested in seeing how much Two River's teas will improve in a couple years.