Sae Midori Kabusecha (Shaded Sencha) 2018
Kabusecha is one of the highest styles of Japanese tea. It literally means ‘shaded tea’. Unlike sencha, which is grown in the sun, Kabusecha is covered for 9 to 14 days before harvest. Covering the plants increases the amino acids in the leaf, which gives this tea the umami flavour profile which is highly sought-after in Japanese teas.
Like wine grapes, tea has many varietals. This tea is picked from a one varietal of tea plant called Sae Midori. We find Sae Midori has a delicious mushroom note in the umami palate.
This batch comes from the Nishi family’s garden in Kagoshima, on the southern end of Japan’s Kyushu Island. The garden is organic and the Nishi family are pioneers of organic tea growing in Japan.
Japanese teas of this quality are rarely drunk outside the country. Japan drinks over 95% of its own tea and it’s usually the lower quality teas which are exported.
When looking at a Japanese tea, check that the leaves are needle shaped and dark green in colour. This is a good indication of quality. Also check that the tea is purely from the spring season (ichibancha). Of course taste, is the ultimate judge, and this batch really shows off the art of Japanese teas. On the palate, the tea opens with notes of edamame and kombu. You will taste the freshness of the spring picking, the elegant umami of the shading, and the characteristic mushroom note of the Sae Midori varietal. The finish is remarkably long; a spectacular green tea.