June 07, 2020
Covered Cultivation of Tea

“Cover cultivation” is one of the tea cultivation methods. Tea leaves grown in this method are processed into “Gyokuro,” “Tencha,” and “Kabusecha.” Why are tea leaves grown in cover cultivation preferred to make these types of tea? This article provides the reason in detail.

What is cover cultivation?

Cover cultivation is a cultivation method in which tea trees with growing fresh buds are covered to avoid sunlight for a certain period. Photosynthesis in the leaf barely happens without the sun, so the fresh buds take a longer time to grow to become harder leaves. Picking time can be longer thanks to this process. In addition, the cover keeps the leaves warm so that they can be protected against frost and picked earlier. Good-quality tea is produced from the leaves that are “less hard and kept warm.”

Features of tea grown in cover cultivation

A tea leaf covered during cultivation takes on a distinctive grassy aroma called “ooika (literally cover aroma in Japanese).” An increased number of chlorophylls deepen the green color of the leaf.

The tea grown by cover cultivation has a bright green liquid color compared with the tea produced without covering. Its characteristic rich fragrance arising from the cover aroma and slightly astringent flavor entertains you well. The brilliant tint and light astringency are suited for the processing of “Gyokuro” and “Tencha”

Why does cover cultivation make tea more delicious?

The tea’s umami component theanine, when exposed to the sun, changes to the tea’s astringent component catechin. However, cover cultivation blocks sunlight and prevents theanine from changing to catechin, so the tea can store full of umami. Furthermore, the amount of caffeine, which is less bitter than catechin, increases by light shielding. As a result, the tea grown by cover cultivation provides a sweeter flavor with lighter astringency and bitterness than the tea grown without covering.