Kevangogh wrote:Most farmers put most of their efforts towards the first flush because that's where they make the bulk of their income when it comes time to sell, it's the most valuable. Later harvests are just icing on the cake and genmaicha and houjicha are nearly always side products from these later harvests. When they make houjicha or genmaicha, they usually use bancha. Why would a farmer use first harvest tea which he can get a much better price as sencha to make houjicha or genmaicha? They don't. I'm pretty skeptical of anyone that claims their genmaicha is from the first harvest, honestly.
That's not to say these teas, because they're not as valuable, are not good teas to drink.
I think genmaicha, houjicha, bancha make great iced tea and are very refreshing. I pretty much limit myself to drinking them as iced here, however.
i would first like to know if the OP is asking about ichibancha, confusing this with a 2nd quality bancha. if not, then i would add that hibiki-an offers first flush genmaicha and houjicha. i don't work for them so i will guess that as you are pointing out, the best of first flush is too valuable to use for these teas, but i imagine what isn't used for shincha is made into bancha. that said trying to offer an answer to the OP, not to dispute the value of tea flushes nor defend claims.
i would only phrase one thing you wrote a little differently, if i were asked. not making a living from tea and just drinking it, i don't see the need to qualify tea. there is nothing better than a bancha to gulp down cold on a hot summer day. or, if eating a spicy food, bancha is perfect, whereas an expensive sencha would not be tasted at all. i appreciate your knowledge, including of bringing tea to market and value is essential for that. but for drinkers each tea has a purpose, and the best for that is what i am looking for. i believe i read, and please correct me if i am wrong, that about 51% of tea produced in japan is sencha. that leaves about half the tea produced (and consumed) being bancha.