Bancha 101

A Guide to Japanese Bancha Tea

Guide Contents:

  • What Is Bancha?
  • How Is Bancha Produced?
  • Bancha Tea Benefits
  • Sugimoto Tea Company Bancha Tea
    • How to Brew Bancha

What Is Bancha?

Bancha is a type of Japanese green tea that undergoes similar cultivation and processing to sencha, but with a few differences. Across Japan, “bancha” has different definitions.

For example, in certain northern regions, the term bancha is used to refer to what is commonly known as the roasted tea “hojicha” in other areas. Here at Sugimoto Tea Company, our bancha is made primarily from shuutoubancha (秋冬番茶) from Shizuoka, which is derived from the upper shoots of tea bushes from later harvests.

Bancha is typically considered a lower grade tea compared to sencha. However, an upside to this is it is cheaper than other Japanese green teas. This is why the Japanese consider bancha as tea for everyday drinking.

How Is Bancha Produced?

Bancha comes from different sources, which are determined by factors such as the part of the plant it comes from and the harvest time. In this post, we’ll talk about the bancha that we offer — kariban and shuutoubancha.

Throughout the year, different teas are harvested at different times. The first harvest (also known as “first flush”) happens during the spring. This is the time when shincha and sencha are harvested from the upper shoots of the tea plant.

Meanwhile, the lower shoots of the plant are trimmed to “shape” the bushes. These larger, coarser leaves that come from the lower shoots of the first harvest become the source material for the bancha called “kariban.”

Aside from the lower shoots trimmed from the first harvest, bancha can also be made from the upper shoots from later harvests, such as that from the third or fourth flush. This bancha is called shuutoubancha and comes from mature leaves. Shuutoubancha is classified as lower grade. However, shuutoubancha actually has some nutritional qualities comparable to those harvested from earlier harvests.


Bancha Tea Benefits

  • Contains the same catechin content as teas derived from upper shoots during the first harvest — Since shuutoubancha comes from the upper shoots of later harvests, it has the same catechin content as the upper shoots from the first harvest.
  • Has more catechins than kariban — Since its leaves also receive more sunlight, shuutoubancha has more catechins than kariban. This is because it comes from the lower shoots, which don’t receive as much sunlight during the first harvest since the upper shoots block their sunlight.
  • Great taste, low caffeine — Shuutoubancha comes from tea leaves harvested in late summer, which gives it a light, refreshing taste with a hint of bite. Since it is made from mature tea leaves, Shuutoubancha also has a lower caffeine content.

Sugimoto Tea Company Bancha Tea

Sugimoto Bancha comes from two sources:

  • Shuutobancha — Comes from the top of the tea bush at the end of the growing season.
  • Kariban — Comes from the lower shoots of the tea bush at the end of the first harvest.

Our Bancha is primarily made of leaves harvested in late summer (shuutoubancha), which are large and thick. It also contains some kariban. The overall flavor is light and refreshing with a hint of a bite. Compared to sencha, bancha has a milder flavor, a vivid yellow color, and less threat of bitterness.


How to Brew Bancha

Want to enjoy a cup of Sugimoto Bancha tea? Here’s a brewing guide for our Bancha tea:

Tea Type

Amount of Tea

Amount of Water

Water Temperature

Steeping Time

Bancha

1 Tbsp. (5g.)

12 oz.

175° F or less

1-2 min.

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