Shincha ("new tea") is tea that comes from first harvest sencha during spring. It’s only available in limited quantities during the springtime which makes it highly desirable. The spring harvest usually starts around mid to late April. Different cultivars also have slightly different harvest schedules.
A story from The Japan News/The Yomiuri Shimbun in mid-March:
It’s tea time! This season’s harvest of green tea leaves kicked off on Wednesday at a tea-growing greenhouse in Shimada, Shizuoka Prefecture. Expanses of blooming yellow-green sprouts were skillfully harvested by 15 women who filled basket after basket with them. “This past winter was cold, making the roots rich in sugar and amino acids, so I expect the flavor of this year’s harvest to be strong,” said Takahide Otsuka, a tea farmer who operates the greenhouse…from The Japan News/The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Thanks to Mr. Enomoto for sending us Shincha pictures (taken yesterday) from Hatsukura, Shimada.