Saemidori Kabusecha (Shaded Sencha) 2023
The Henta family’s organic garden sits in Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu island, in south Japan. This is an active volcanic region, making the soils volcanic. Henta-san himself prioritises the quality of the soil and has a craft approach to tea, ideal for making individual high quality teas on their organic garden. This tea is a Kabusecha which ranks above sencha in Japanese teas. Kabusecha is only grown in the spring season, under the shade. Shading the tea plants increases the umami (savoury taste) in the leaves, giving Kabusecha its characteristic umami, which is an important flavour in Japanese cuisine.
This tea was picked exclusively from Saemidori varietal tea plants on Henta-san’s garden. Saemidori is a relatively young and increasingly popular varietal for its excellent flavour and umami. The plants were covered from the sun for 11 days before picking. The leaves were then picked and steamed in the ‘asamushi’ style (short steaming) for 30 seconds. Asamushi preserves the shape and natural clarity of flavours of the tea leaf. Heating keeps the leaves green, which is how green tea is kept green. In Japan, heating is usually by steam.
Henta-san has produced a particularly fine Kabusecha this year. It has the characteristic mushroom notes of a Saemidori varietal. Think of buttered spinach and mushrooms. The texture is wonderfully thick and the umami finish is long, staying on the palate for minutes. It’s an excellent match for goat cheeses and seafood, or Japanese food in general. If you like Japanese food, this tea is highly recommended.
Infuse at 6g (1 tablespoon) per 150ml (teacup size) at 40°C for 3 minutes. This is the authentic Japanese way which brings out the most umami. If you prefer, you can infuse at 60°C for 1 minute.