Hey Everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the fact that autumn is arriving already and the air is starting to cool. For today’s post were going to learning about Bancha and why Bancha is the perfect Japanese tea for your everyday cup. Bancha is special type of Japanese green tea made from the older leaves of the tea plant that are stronger, thicker and higher in minerals. It’s a more alkalizing tea which gives a nice rounded woody flavor to the tea liquor. Just like Kukicha, its a great afternoon or evening tea, and is very high in minerals and low in caffeine which means it’s great after dinner. It’s also very affordable, selling at the fraction of a price of Sencha or Gyokuro. Because of it’s distinct wooden and mineral taste, it can be enjoyed over many steeps without loosing any of it’s fantastic flavor. it’s very unique and quite different to many of the Japanese teas that you may be used to.
There are two origins when it comes to this tea and it’s name, the first being that it was given that name because it’s seen as a simple everyday tea, and on the other hand it is said that “ban” relates to “late” which focuses on the leaves being more mature and picked later. It’s seen as a simple tea and is a great everyday tea because of that. It is the second most produced tea in Japan at about 10% which is consumed after meals mostly. You get a light green from the leaves unless it has been roasted then it will be multiple shades of brown. The leaves are also often broken, unless you get a unrolled Bancha that will have fuller leaves.
My personal favorite Bancha I have ever had is a Yunomi House Blend, which is an un-rolled roasted Bancha. Size and quality of the leaf though 100% comes down to where you buy your Bancha from though. Yunomi stock a lot of different Bancha on their website though, so I highly recommend heading over there and having a look over what they have to offer. You can find their selection of Banchas here and if you have never ordered from them before be sure to use the code START20 to get 20% off your order.
Bancha contains less caffeine because the leaves are older and they don’t need the protection from the bugs. The caffeine content is about 30-40mg compared to a Sencha that can range in content but can be around 60mg. It can be drunk at any point in the day, obviously unless you are rather sensitive to caffeine. Because the leaves are older not only do they have less caffeine but they also contain less amino acids, they do however carry a decent amount of catechins / tannins and they have high amounts of minerals and iron which means it will definitely help aid your digestion which is why it’s great to drink after a meal. It’s a very alkalizing tea and because of that it’s great to drink after you are exercising or after eating particularly acidic foods and is very soft on the stomach and pretty soothing in general so it’s something you can turn to should your body or mind be under stress.
Should you be completely new to Japanese green tea, it’s a fantastic tea to start with to ease yourself in, it’s often used for Genmaicha as well which I also recommend to beginners as the rice calms the tea a little bit. It takes well to over brewing as well, so if you are a beginner you don’t have to stress too much about getting your steeping times right, it can also be steeped hotter without getting bitter so you don’t have to worry too much about water temps to start off with as well. From Bancha that is un-roasted you’ll get a mid green to yellow colored liquor, rather than a florescent green that you would expect from a Fuakmushi, Gyokuro or Sencha. Of course, with a roasted Bancha the liquor will lean more towards light – mid brown-ish red / light copper, like you would expect from a lightly roasted Hojicha.
It has a light sweet wood note to it, usually when not roasted. There’s no astringency at all, slight green notes behind the wood but more of a late summer grass and hay than anything else. It’s not intensely vegetal like a lot of Japanese green teas so it’s a great gateway tea and very calming and soothing to drink. It has a very beautiful broad aspect to it though, it’s not a one note tea at all and will go so many steeps with you and luckily for the most part compared to a lot of other Japanese teas it’s very affordable.
I really hope this post helps you find your way into Japanese tea starting with Bancha,. If you’re looking for something to move onto after that I recommend Hoijcha at various roasting levels and then slowly start moving into the green teas when you are ready. My biggest tip for you once you do that is to keep an eye on your water temp and steeping times they are very important when it comes to Japanese tea.
Have you ever tried Bancha? let me know your experiences with it in the comments if you have and please let me know your favorites so I can add them to my must try list and recommend them to other tea lovers as well.
Until next time, Happy Steeping – Kimberley