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The Ultimate Guide to Kabuse-cha[2022]

The hybrid tea of the Sencha and the Gyokuro.

This article was last modified June 15th, 2022. by Yuki

Introduction - What is Kabuse-cha?

Now let’s look into the world of Kabuse-cha.

Kabuse-cha is somewhat of a hybrid between the Sencha and the Gyokuro tea. You add them together and divide by two... and that will essentially give you Kabuse-cha.

It is an extremely unique and enjoyable type of tea, as you can relish both the rich umami and aroma similar to that of Gyokuro, and also the pleasurable astringent and fresh features of the Sencha.

Perhaps in that sense, this drink is for somewhat advanced Japanese tea drinkers.

Kabuse-cha tea leaves

Leaves of a Kabuse-cha

So, how does Kabuse-cha develop this unique taste?

Kabuse-cha is produced in a similar way to Gyokuro in that the leaves are shaded from the sun prior to harvesting. However, the amount of shading is only roughly a week to ten days... or even shorter, which is considerably less than the 20 days required to produce Gyokuro.

This allows some of the astringent and bitter tastes to develop within the tea leaves in a way that a Sencha does, but also allows a lot of the Umami to remain in a way that the Gyokuro does.

Kabuse-cha is considered a relatively high grade of Japanese tea, as this cultivation method is relatively difficult compared to Sencha.

Therefore, it's relatively expensive.

It may not be your “Everyday Japanese Tea”, but it definitely is a nice cup to have once in a while, or something interesting to enjoy with guests.

The Taste of Kabuse-cha

A cup of Kabuse-cha

A cup of Kabuse-cha

What does the Kabuse-cha taste like?

Well, you actually have two options when it comes to tasting Kabuse-cha. Depending on how you prepare the tea, you can enjoy it more like a Sencha, or more like Gyokuro.

  • If it is infused at a relatively low temperature, it will contain the bitter and astringent tastes from coming out. This way you can enjoy the umami and sweetness similar to that of Gyokuro.

    Many Kabuse-cha also has “ooika” which is a unique scent characterised in Gyokuro. "ooika" is a rich smell generated by shading the tea leaves with straw and reed. However, the "ooika" in Kabuse-cha is a little different because it adds a little more of a freshness compared to that of Gyokuro.
  • If infused at a higher temperature, the astringent and bitter tastes will be highlighted. You can enjoy these pleasant tastes the way you would do in sencha.

This versatility of the tea is one of the reasons it is so fun to try.

The Health Benefits

The health benefits of Kabuse-cha is similar to that of Sencha.
As Kabuse-cha would use high grade leaves being produced from the first harvest of the year, it would be loaded with nutrients. You can expect the great nutrients in Sencha to be in Kabuse-cha as well.
However, there is a little bit of a difference though - since the tea leaves of Kabuse-cha are shaded from the sun, it alters the balance of the nutrients.
  • Because the Kabuse-cha is shaded before harvest It will not allow the Theanine to turn into Catechin as much as Sencha would.  
  • The shading also increases the levels of caffeine, hence is a good cup to boost your performance before sports or study.
You can learn more about the health benefits of Japanese green tea here.

Why is it called Kabuse-cha? (The origin of the name)

Kabuse in Japanese means "covering". Therefore, kabuse-cha literally means tea which is covered.

This is directly referring to the cultivation method of Kabuse-cha, where the leaves are covered and shaded from the sun. In Japanese, it is written as either one of the below.

Kabuse-cha in Japanese

How to make Kabuse-cha

When infusing Kabuse-cha, aim for something between a Sencha and a Gyokuro.

Keep the amount of tea leaves and water temperature closer to that of a Sencha if you want to enjoy the astringent components of the tea. If you want to taste the Umami, keep those parameters closer to a Gyokuro.

The following instructions are a good place to start. And remember to experiment and enjoy, as each tea is different!

Kabuse-cha (Enjoy Umami) Kabuse-cha (Enjoy Astringency)


2 servings

2 servings

Water (ml)

200 ml

200 ml

Leaves (g)



Leaves (roughly in teaspoons)

4 tsp

4 tsp

Temperature (Celsius)



Brewing time (Seconds)

120 seconds

60 seconds

How to make Kabuse-cha

water temperature

Use 8g of tea leaf for 200ml of hot water. This is the right amount for 2 people.
To enjoy Kabuse-cha similar to the way you would enjoy a Gyokuro, infuse at 60 degress and let it steep for 2 mins, you can enjoy the umami and sweetness similar to Gyokuro. It will reduce the astringent and bitter tastes from coming out.
If infused at a higher temperature, it will highlight the astringent and fresh taste similar to sencha.
Have fun with it - try and enjoy in different ways.

water hardness

Soft water with hardness of between 30 to 80 is said to be the best for extracting the taste and aroma of green tea. The tap water in Singapore is "moderately soft", which makes it perfect for Japanese Tea.

Kabuse-cha tea leaves

Famous areas producing Kabuse-cha

Mie Prefecture (Isecha)

Interestingly, the Mie prefecture in Japan has been by far the largest producer of Kabuse-cha. The tea produced here is called "Isecha", and it accounts for almost 1/3 of the production in Japan comes from the Mie prefecture.
Although Isecha is relatively lesser known as compared to the other tea manufacturing giant area brands, It actually boasts the 3rd largest green tea plantation areas and green tea output in Japan!
Especially the northern tea plantation areas of the Mie prefecture which lie across a nature-rich geography of the Suzuka mountains. are famous for their quality Kabuse tea.

Kyoto Prefecture (Ujicha)

Kyoto is the home of the Ujicha area brand, and it has continuously produced high quality tea - especially the shaded types. These include the Matcha, Gyokuro, and of course the Kabuse-cha.
If you follow Japan's National Tea Competition, you'll know that Kabuse-cha has been dominated by Kyoto this past decade. It proves that they have been continuously producing the best Kabuse-cha in Japan.


If you are one who enjoys Sencha and Gyokuro, then I'm sure a venture into Kabuse-cha won't disappoint!
It's not the Japanese tea you'll come across every day, but it is really unique and versatile. Try it out and have fun with your Japanese tea loving friends by trying and tasting the differences!

Author Yuki


Yuki is the Editor-in-Chief AND Community Manager at Tealife. He bleeds Japanese Tea and loves being a part of the Japanese Tea journey of others. Writes, does events, conducts tasting sessions, drinks, drinks and drinks tea! Easily accessible - hit him up on whatsapp (+65) 85882980.