Kabusecha is a type of tea of which plants are shaded for about a week before tea leaves are picked. The word “kabuse” means to shade. This method is also used to make matcha (tea powder) and gyokuro (the finest Japanese tea) but the shading duration of kabusecha is the shortest among these 3 tea types, with 7-10 days, while 20 ~30 days for matcha and about 20 days for gyokuro. As well as the shading duration, kabusecha is different from matcha and gyokuro in its shading method. For kabusecha, shading nets are usually directly applied to the plants, while for matcha and gyokuro, the nets are fitted over the tea field.
The picked kabusecha tea leaves are manufactured through the same processes as those of sencha (high grade Japanese tea), namely going through the steaming, massaging (this process is also called “rolling”) and drying processes. The only difference to sencha is the way kabusecha is cultivated. As explained earlier, kabusecha’s tea plants are shaded but sencha’s tea plants are not. Shading reduces the amount of the natural element called catechin in the leaves and increases the amount of theanine.（Usually, photosynthesis converts theanine to catechin, but shading slows the change from theanine to catechin, resulting in an increase in the amount of theanine in tea leaves） Catechin is the element for bitterness and theanine is for mildness and umami. Therefore kabusecha tastes milder with stronger umami than sencha. kabusecha’s aroma is similar to that of gyokuro but at the same time it tastes refreshing like sencha.
You can enjoy the taste and aroma similar to both sencha and gyokuro depending on the temperature of hot water to pour over kabusecha. If you want to enjoy the similar taste and aroma to those of sencha, use hot water of 70~80℃. The tea gets ready quickly. However, if you want to enjoy the taste and aroma similar to those of gyokuro, use hot water of which temperature is slightly lower, and leave the tea leaves in the hot water a little bit longer. In this case, the temperature of hot water is still higher than the temperature suitable for gyokuro, which is 40~50℃. Because of this feature, kabusecha is also called “kabuse gyokuro” or “Netto (hot water) gyokuro”.
Just like Sencha, kabusecha is used to create a variety of Japanese tea brands such as Kabuse Tsurigane (stem tea), Kabuse Konacha (fine tea leaf grains), Kabuse Genmaicha (tea with roasted rice) and Kabuse Funmatsucha (powdery tea). Please enjoy various types of Kabusecha that have characteristics of both Sencha and Gyokuro as base.