Bancha is produced from a bottom part of tea leaves that are big and thick. Compared to Sencha, Bancha is somewhat more astringent. Nevertheless, it is appreciated in Japan for its robust flavor. Den's Bancha Suruga is an upgraded variation, using fresh green leaves picked right after the first flush tea.
Harvest: First Flush 2019
Nice balance of briskness, astringency and hearty herbaceous flavor with fresh grassy aroma.
Den's Preferred Brewing:
Water: 4oz boiled
Leaves: 2 grams or 1 heaping teaspoon
Steep: 30 sec
2nd Cup: Water boiled; Steep 15 sec
Definition of Bancha
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. Bancha can be made in several different ways as described below:
- Teas 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 is the best quality Bancha.
- Tea made of third or fourth flush leaves are called "Shuto Bancha" meaning Autumn‐Winter Bancha in Japanese. These leaves are used for lower quality Banchas, blended for Genmaicha or roasted for Houjicha.
- Another source for Bancha could be the tea left after the sorting and sifting process of making Sencha. Big and irregularly shape leaves are removed because they do not blend well for Sencha.
- Regardless of the source, 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.
Our Bancha Suruga is made by the method described in #1 above using leaves from the first flush. We also use some of these leaves for producing our Houjicha Gold which is a roasted green tea.
Bancha is also known by other names in certain areas of Japan. In the Hokkaido and Tohoku, people call Bancha Houjicha. In Ishikawa prefecture, Bancha is often refers to as Houji Kukicha. In Kyoto, Kyo-Bancha, which is roasted big leaves is popular. So, for some Japanese Bancha is sometimes referred to as Houjicha!
There are also some unique Banchas in areas of Japan. A few examples are Awa Bancha, Goishi cha, and Batabata cha. You might call these the local craft teas of specific regions.
Health Benefits of Bancha
Bancha has all the health benefits of green tea and more:
- - Less Caffeine - Bancha contains less caffeine than Sencha because larger leaves generally contain less caffeine.
- - More Catechins - Bancha contains more catechins than Sencha because tea leaves receive a little more sunshine after the Sencha is picked. Note that this 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 its fresh aroma, strong green flavor and some refreshing bitterness. In this case, you 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.
In summary, among the Banchas described above, Den's Bancha Suruga is made of fresh green leaves picked right after the first flush sencha harvest. We think It is the best Bancha of Banchas!