- Tea Knowledge
This kabusecha plays with the gamut of intense and subtle flavors: its glossy, dark leaves emit the scent of forest berries, while the cup begins thin and clean, then fills with the aftertaste of buttered greens. Likewise, the boldness of roasted almonds merely tickles the nose, and the bitter acidity of lime peel is dilute and refreshing. A gentle slick of oiliness is juxtaposed by pleasant astringency. It is perhaps an appropriate coyness for a tea associated with covering and shadow, the bushes shaded for about ten days before harvest, and it has built up enough character to save some for multiple infusions.
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 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.