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What is kabusecha?
Kabusecha is a Japanese green tea that is shaded from sunlight for a period. The shade-grown or shaded tea plants are shielded from sunlight for the ten days prior to being harvested.
What is a shaded tea?
The green tea that you can find on your supermarket shelves is generally ‘sun-grown’ tea – the tea plants that go into this green tea are constantly exposed to the sun until the time the leaves are harvested and processed. This sun-grown tea is the tea that is found in teabags, in traditional Chinese green tea, Japanese sencha and genmaicha.
Shaded teas or shade-grown teas are different and also taste different. Shaded teas are valuable varieties of tea that have a deep green colour and flavour. For these shade-grown teas the tea plants are shielded from sunlight for a certain period just before being harvested – from a few days to some weeks, depending on the flavour wanted.
By shading the tea plants the natural photosynthetic process in the tea plants declines, resulting in increase chlorophyll production. This not only makes the tealeaves greener, it also changes the flavour. The amount of chlorophyll affects the caffeine (or theine) levels as well as the natural sugars, flavonoids (the antioxidants) and the amino acids in the tealeaves. For example, levels of the amino acid L-theanine increase in the absence of photosynthesis. L-theanine counters the stimulating effect of the caffeine and it is responsible for that coveted Japanese umami in the shade-grown teas.
Umami is a ‘savoury’ taste that is considered as one of the five basic tastes by the Japanese, together with sourness, sweetness, saltiness and bitterness. The presence of umami in a foodstuff is prized, as it is indicative of its high quality. Umami is a difficult taste to obtain, including in the shade-grown teas, and requires much knowledge and experience for knowing when the tealeaves must be harvested in order to create that umami taste.
What does ‘shaded tea’ or shade-grown tea taste like?
A Japanese green shade-grown tea has – depending on how long the plants were shaded – greater or lesser umami. Umami is best described as ‘savoury’, and it means that the green teas have a ‘green’, grassy flavour and are not as sweet as teas such as Chinese green tea or sencha.
How many shaded or shade-grown teas exist?
The differences between shade-grown teas are determined by the period for which the plants are shaded.
Kabusecha Kagesakura First Flush is considered to be a shade-grown sencha. It is a Japanese green tea or sencha that is shaded for ten days before being harvested, making it the perfect introductory tea for discovering umami and shaded teas.
Shincha Harumi First Flush is Kabusecha Kagesakura First Flush, except that the tealeaves have been steamed a little longer during production.
Gyokuro Kimigayo First Flush is shaded for three weeks before harvesting. Japanese tea experts know that Gyokuro is an exceptional variety of tea that must be drunk with care. The tea has a subtle and gentle flavour and is famed for its high umami value.
Tencha is the name of the Japanese green tea variety that is ground into fine green tea powder – matcha. The green tea used in matcha is shaded for four weeks prior to being harvested, the longest shading of all the teas. And that’s why matcha has such a clear and deep green colour.
Kabusecha Kagesakura offers you a pleasurable and tasty introduction into the world of shaded teas. Flattering umami aroma, complex and aromatic flavour.
Kabusecha Kagesakura First Flush
This Japanese green tea is named for the area where the tea plants are grown. The kabusecha tea plantation neighbours the active volcano Sakurajima in Kagoshima and the ash is used to keep the lands fertile.
Kagesakura also means ‘cherry blossom in the shade’, referring to the time when this Japanese green tea is harvested. As soon as the last Sakura cherry blossom has fallen to earth, the First Flush harvest commences.
Because kabusecha is not shaded for as long as gyokuro, it is a good introductory tea that marks your first steps into the world of shaded teas.
Kabusecha Kagesakura is, like Sencha Momoyama First Flush, an Asamushi tea, with the leaves being briefly steamed.
Kabusecha Kagesakura First Flush has a taste that combines the freshness of Sencha and the depth of Gyokuro.
100% Japanese organic green tea
Let the tea steep for about 3 minutes.
Because the flavour of Kabusecha Kagesakura First Flush is somewhere between sencha and gyokuro, you can experiment with the quantity of the tea and the temperature of the water in order to get a flavour that is either closer to sencha or closer to gyokuro.
This Japanese green tea can be used for three infusions. The first and second steepings are important and give the tea a different taste – the tealeaves open up and their initial flavour is released during the first infusion, and because they are already open during the second infusion they steep in the water and release a different flavour.
For 1 cup: add 5 g of Kabusecha Kagesakura First Flush to 100 ml of water at 75 °C. Leave to draw for 60 seconds.
Add 100 ml of water at 70 °C and drink the tea immediately.
For a gentler taste:
Add 12 g of Kabusecha Kagesakura First Flush to 1 litre of water at 70 °C. Steep for 3 minutes. For the second infusion, add a litre of water at a temperature of 70 °C to 80 °C and leave to draw for another 3 minutes.
Tips for preparing Japanese green tea
Use soft water when making the tea. Soft water has a low mineral content, and water’s hardness can affect the taste and colour of the tea. Tap water is often hard so we recommend that you use bottled water with a low mineral content in order to get maximum enjoyment from your tea.
The better the tea’s quality, the lower the temperature of the water used for your tea. That’s because high-quality green tea is rich in tannins and amino acids – tannins give it that bitter taste and amino acids are responsible for the umami and the pleasant aftertaste. If the temperature of your water is under 100 °C, the tealeaves won’t release the tannins that make the tea taste bitter, while the amino acids can also do their job at a lower temperature.Gyokuro,which is considered to be the highest quality green tea in Japan, tastes extremely bitter when the temperature of the water exceeds 40 °C.
A First Flush Sencha and shaded teas are mild with a subtle but far-reaching flavour. In order to experience the umami it is important that you follow the directions on the packaging and use sufficient tealeaves.
In theory tea can be kept for a very long time because it is dried. But to consistently enjoy the quality we recommend that you use the tea within six months of opening the bag.
Japanese green tea can be used for three infusions. The first and second steepings are important and give the tea a different taste – the tealeaves open up and their initial flavour is released during the first infusion, and because they are already open during the second infusion they steep in the water and release a different flavour.
Japanese green tea is never drunk with sugar. Good quality Japanese green tea has a gentle and naturally sweet flavour and has umami – the very properties that the Japanese tea aficionados want to taste and experience.
Instead of adding sugar to tea, Japanese tea is often served together with a pastry or other sweet treat, and the aftertaste of the snack means that the tea seems sweeter when drunk.