Tea trees themselves contain L-Theanine (a kind of amino acid) , which creates Umami savory flavor. Once they are exposed in the sun, it turns to catechin, a component of astringency. In other words, when the teas are not exposed in the sun, L-Theanine remains in the leaves instead of creating catechin.
So, some Japanese green teas like Matcha, Gyokuro and Kabuse-cha, which have more umami, are covered for a certain period of the time after new buds start to appear around April.
Then, how are the teas covered? There are 3 different ways:
1) “Honzu” covering (traditional way)
Reed screens are spread on the shelf made with logs and bamboo. Later on, straws are spread on it. It keeps low temperature and high humid, which is a good condition for tea to grow slowly and nicely, creating high-quality tea. It requires a great deal of labor and time.
|When you go inside, you feel nice and cool.|
|Some straws fall from the top. It is OK. |
They will turn to soil and help for tea grow well.
2) “Kanreisha” covering
Due to lack of material and labor shortage, black synthetic cloth often known as “kanreisha” is used to cover recently instead of Honzu. The cloths have two layers to create breathability.
3) Direct covering
This is the quickest and most economical way. It is covered, but compare to other two ways above, tea receive sunlight more directly and it is poorly ventilated and gets easily hot. So in terms of quality, the tea are not as great as Honzu or Kanreisha covering teas, but more available in terms of price.
|Instead of chemical fiber, this eco-friendly paper covering is developing. |
It is not used practically yet.