Bancha’s meaning references the coarser grades and heavier, late season crop from which this full-flavored tea is made. Bancha is made from larger leaves than are usually available for sencha grades. Bancha are a class of Sencha harvested as a second flush tea between summer and autumn.
Where Bancha is grown: Most regions make Bancha as a part of their second flush harvest.
Popularity of Bancha: It is more widely available in the West because of it’s lower price. It’s demand in the East being rather low compared to other blends.
Qualities of aroma and flavor: The strength of flavor held by many Bancha means that they go well with food. It has a mellow flavor that can be described as woodsy and toasty.
One feature of Bancha that needs to be mentioned is that it is has significantly large amounts of a flavonoid known as rutin (or Vitamin P), a flavonoid known for it’s ability to fight high blood pressure because of it’s ability to strengthen the walls of capillary blood vessels.
Types of Bancha green tea:
Hojicha is set apart from other Japanese green teas because it is roasted over charcoal. The tea is fried at high temperature, altering the leaf colors tints from green to red. The process was first performed in Kyoto, Japan in the 1920’s and its popularity persists today.
The main types of Hojicha are light and deep-fried. The roasted flavors are extracted and predominate this blend. The deeper fried leaf produce teas with a deeper roast aroma and taste and very little astringency.
Hojicha is made from Bancha and Kukicha grades generally from the last pickings of the summer considered lower in quality compared to other Japanese teas.
Regions where Hojicha is grown: Produced in almost every tea-producing region.
Popularity of Hojicha: Pan-fried or oven roasted Hojicha is commonly encountered in teashops throughout Japan. The clean, roasted flavors of hojicha go with any kind of food, particularly oily foods. It is often used as an after-dinner tea. Inexpensive, but rare in the West.
Qualities of flavor and aroma: Hojicha infusions have a distinctively clear red appearance (as distinct from hongcha) and are reputedly low in caffeine as well as catechin antioxidants making it a popular tea to drink before going to sleep.