Bancha, which translates to “ordinary tea,” is a type of Japanese green tea that is harvested from the same tea tree as sencha, but is considered to be a lower grade. This is because it is made from the lower and courser leaves of the tea plant, or harvested during the later flushes, which have less desirable qualities.
Harvest and Production of Bancha
Bancha is harvested from the second or later flushes of the tea plant, usually between the summer and autumn months. After harvest, the leaves are sorted, with the higher quality leaves reserved for sencha and the lower quality leaves used for bancha. Bancha is then processed similarly to sencha, but with lower quality leaves, resulting in a tea with a unique and distinct flavor profile.
Bancha vs. Sencha
While the cultivation and processing of bancha and sencha are similar, there are some differences between the two. Bancha is a lower grade tea, and as such, is cheaper than sencha. It also has a lower caffeine content, making it less bitter and a great option for those who are sensitive to caffeine.
Another difference is that sencha is made from the upper shoots of the tea plant, which have a higher catechin content, resulting in a more astringent taste. In contrast, bancha is made from the lower and courser leaves of the plant, which have lower catechin levels, resulting in a milder and sweeter taste. However, if bancha is harvested during later flushes, its catechin levels can be similar to that of sencha.
Tasting Notes and Traditional Preparation
Bancha has a unique flavor profile, ranging from nutty and roasted to green grass and earthy. It is a refreshing everyday tea with a mild sweet flavor and pleasant roasted aroma. It is traditionally prepared using water at a temperature of 185°F, with a leaf to water ratio of 4 grams per 8 ounces. It is steeped for 1 minute for the first infusion, and 45 seconds for the second infusion. For the best results, it is recommended to brew bancha using a Kyusu teapot.
In conclusion, while bancha may be considered a lower grade tea, it has a distinct flavor profile and can be a great option for those who are looking for a milder and sweeter tasting green tea.