Like other teas, there are several types of tea called Bancha and if you compared them side-by-side you would see that each tea is very different. There are several definitions for the name Bancha. "Ban-cha" could mean "late tea" or "exceptional tea? and these definitions are used interchangeably. Here's how Bancha is made:
- 1. Tea made from the top several leaves of the first flush are mostly used for Sencha. After this harvest, the lower tea leaves are picked and used for Bancha. This type of Bancha is made from the first flush tea and the best quality Bancha.
- 2. Tea made of third or fourth flush teas are called
"Shuto Bancha" meaning Autumn‐Winter Bancha in
Japanese. They are used for lower quality Banchas, blended for Genmaicha and roasted for Houjicha.
- 3. Another source for Bancha could be tea left after the sorting and sifting process of making Sencha. Big or irregular shape leaves are removed because it does not blend well for Sencha.
- 4. Houjicha, roasted green tea, is called Bancha in some areas in Japan. In the Hokkaido and Tohoku areas in Japan, people call Bancha Houjich. In Ishikawa prefecture, Bancha often refers to Houji Kukicha. In Kyoto, Kyo-Bancha, which is roasted big leaves, is popular. So for some of the Japanese population Bancha is sometimes referred to as Houjicha!
- There are also some unique Banchas in areas in Japan. A few examples are Awa Bancha, Goishi cha, Batabata cha, and Kyo Bancha. You might call these the craft teas of specific regions.
You are probably familiar with the Bancha described in #1 through #3 above because this is what you can find in stores or from us. The process of making Bancha is same as Sencha. After picking, leaves are steamed, rolled, kneaded and dried. They are then re-manufactured through sorting, sifting and a slight roasting. Most of Bancha are drunk straight, but some are blended for Genmaicha and even more roasted for Houjicha.
- Bancha contains less caffeine than Sencha because larger leaves generally contain less caffeine.
- Bancha contains more catecchin than Sencha because tea leaves receive a little more sunshine after the Sencha is picked. Note that catechin is a kind of tannin, so Bancha is slightly more bitter than Sencha.
- Bancha contains more of a unique ingredient called Polysaccharide. Polysaccharide restrains enzymes (i.e. amylase, sucrase) to metabolize the saccharide (i.e. sugar) and eventually may support healthy blood sugar levels. This makes Bancha the perfect iced tea for a summer cookout since more polysaccharides are extracted with cold brewing than with hot brewing.
Bancha is the type of tea where you want to enjoy fresh aroma, strong green flavor and some refreshing bitterness. In this case, you may want to use boiling water for brewing. Water is boiled and poured directly onto the tea in the pot. Note that you don't want to steep too long because you use boiling water and a cup will easily become very bitter with long steeping; 30 to 45 seconds is good to steep.
Among definitions of Bancha stated above, Den's Bancha Suruga is made of fresh green leaves picked right after the first flush tea. It is the best Bancha of Banchas!