Canton Kabuse Sencha: origin and flavour
Notes of baby spinach, nori seaweed and raw pea pods characterise this stunning Kabuse Sencha – along with its umami-richness and a deep, emerald green hue.
Sencha is the most popular type of tea in Japan and literally translates as ‘brewing tea’. Traditionally, the cultivation of Sencha is divided into three harvesting periods. The best quality Sencha is picked during the first harvest (much like a First Flush Darjeeling), which happens between April and May – Canton Kabuse Sencha was harvested in May, for example. These leaves are the youngest and most tender – and produce a fresher, more spring-like flavour. A summer harvest follows in June and July and the last harvest of the year happens in September.
Canton Kabuse Sencha is also shaded (the finest Sencha usually is). Shading, the practice of covering the tea bushes before they are harvested, prevents light reaching the plant and stops the growth of new leaves. This has a two-fold effect on the flavour. Reducing sunlight exposure increases the plants retention of L-theanine amino acid, the component responsible for green tea’s flavour and its natural calming effect. The plant simultaneously reduces its retention of catechins, a chemical which can cause an astringent flavour. So overall, shading leads to more umami and less bitterness.
After being picked, the Sencha leaves are immediately steamed for about 40-50 seconds to stop them from oxidising, which enhances the richness, aroma and full-bodied mouthfeel of the tea.
This stunning Sencha comes from the Obubu Tea Farms in Kyoto. Committed to producing some of the highest grade artisanal green teas in Japan, lead farmer Akihiro “Akky” Kita spent 17 years mastering the art of green tea production in Wazuka before finally setting up his own independent, ethical and environmentally-conscious tea garden. The tea farm donates to several local charities and is also involved in a number of projects to help develop local communities through artisanal, sustainable tea production.
We recommend infusing 4 grams of Canton Kabuse Sencha in 250ml of 80°C water, and leaving to steep for 3 minutes.