- Tea Knowledge
This Kabusecha delights the palate with the freshness of Sencha and the umami sweetness of Gyokuro. In fact, Kabusecha is a type of tea that rests between the two: it is processed in the same way as a Sencha, but the plants have been shaded before harvest, like a Gyokuro. The primary difference in these shading processes is duration: Kabusecha is typically shaded for one to two weeks, while Gyokuro is shaded for three weeks.
So why do farmers bother with the time-consuming and expensive process of shading? Because it drastically alters the taste of the finished tea by contributing remarkable umami. Umami means savory and is the fifth taste, in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter. If you’re wondering if you’ve ever tasted umami, it is considered characteristic of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese and… shaded Japanese teas!
We suggest brewing the Kabusecha at lower temperature than Sencha, but for a longer time.
About shading in Japanese teas
There are two categories of Japanese teas: those shaded before harvest (Gyokuro, Kabusecha and Tencha, which is used to make Matcha) and those grown in direct sunlight (such as Sencha, Bancha, Hojicha).
This shading, or lack thereof, directly affects the taste and color of the tea. Typically, as the tea plant grows under the sun, amino acids are converted into antioxidants called catechins. These antioxidants are responsible for many of tea’s health benefits but also contribute by bringing bitterness to the drink. Shading the tea plants before harvest interrupts that conversion. It decreases the amount of astringent catechins while increasing the amount of L-theanine with its characteristic umami taste.
About the Yabukita cultivar
Registered in 1953 by the Shizuoka Tea Industrial Laboratory, Yabukita has since become Japan’s most popular cultivar. In fact, Yabukita plants cover about 75% of the tea fields in Japan! Because it is so widely produced, it can be found in a great variety of grades, from mass-produced low quality teas to our top-grade mountain Sencha.
The Yabukita cultivar is popular amongst tea farmers for its high yield and resistance to cold weather (and even frost). These ideal cultivation characteristics, along with its strong aroma and popular distinctive taste, are the keys to Yabukita’s success.
Watch the video on the Nannuoshan YouTube Channel to learn more about the characteristics and history of this influential cultivar.