What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?


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What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby teaisme » Sep 22nd, '11, 16:57

Why would it be called a first flush bancha instead of just calling it sencha?
Is there a difference in processing? Maybe a difference in part of plant that is harvested (perhaps no buds?) ?
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby rdl » Sep 22nd, '11, 17:29

teaisme wrote:Why would it be called a first flush bancha instead of just calling it sencha?
Is there a difference in processing? Maybe a difference in part of plant that is harvested (perhaps no buds?) ?

do you mean ichibancha? which isn't a bancha, but the first flush harvest. if not - i think you're correct, the lower leaves, and stems, are used for bancha. and these first flush leaves and stems can be roasted for houjicha, also a bancha.
is there something specific you have seen? tea naming and grading may be complex and confusing, and bancha (the name at least) falls into that catagory.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby Chip » Sep 22nd, '11, 18:25

There are grey areas and liberties taken in naming of teas. You learn something about the vendors you use this way.

Some could call the 3rd, 4th leaves, etc. bancha. I have also heard that the "heels" of leaves are less desirable and may be found in bancha as well.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby AdamMY » Sep 22nd, '11, 19:40

Also what type of tea is it? After the sorting of the aracha certain things left over could be classified as bancha. For example there are tea flakes ( ko-cha), which are broken bits from the processing. There are several different other things that could happen. Plus I think Houji-cha and Genmaicha are considered Bancha regardless of which harvest the leaves come from.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby rdl » Sep 22nd, '11, 20:25

AdamMY wrote:Plus I think Houji-cha and Genmaicha are considered Bancha regardless of which harvest the leaves come from.

yes, i agree. i meant above that using first flush tea makes it a first flush (houjicha) bancha, possibly answering "What makes a first flush bancha a bancha"?
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby Kevangogh » Sep 23rd, '11, 06:14

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.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby rdl » Sep 23rd, '11, 12:17

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.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby Chip » Sep 23rd, '11, 13:39

rdl wrote: but i imagine what isn't used for shincha is made into bancha.

Just a small detail, what is not used for "ichibancha" (which includes but is not limited to "shincha").

rdl wrote: 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.

... don't forget gyokuro, matcha, tamaryoku, mecha, kukicha to name a few.

I actually thought a higher percentage of the overall production was sencha. But I guess different information sources will give different percentages.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby rdl » Sep 23rd, '11, 13:57

Chip wrote:
rdl wrote: but i imagine what isn't used for shincha is made into bancha.

Just a small detail, what is not used for "ichibancha" (which includes but is not limited to "shincha"). *1
rdl wrote: 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.

... don't forget gyokuro, matcha, tamaryoku, mecha, kukicha to name a few. *2

I actually thought a higher percentage of the overall production was sencha. But I guess different information sources will give different percentages. *3


*1 absolutely correct! i was trying to avoid the use of ichibancha because that word contains the confusing "bancha" and that may be what the OP is refering to.

*2 chip, your knowledge does give you good reason to mention these other tea types...i was trying to keep things simple by grouping in a larger, general way. lesson learned :D

*3 i hope we can get more official percentages than my memory. but i think i am close.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby rdl » Sep 23rd, '11, 16:33

Chip wrote:I actually thought a higher percentage of the overall production was sencha. But I guess different information sources will give different percentages.

i take back the 51% figure - as you write it is higher, something like 75-80%. i am confusing this with something else i read of and found interesting, but cannot recall just now what it is.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby Chip » Sep 23rd, '11, 16:42

rdl wrote:
Chip wrote:I actually thought a higher percentage of the overall production was sencha. But I guess different information sources will give different percentages.

i take back the 51% figure - as you write it is higher, something like 75-80%. i am confusing this with something else i read of and found interesting, but cannot recall just now what it is.

Yeah, I think 75% or more is what I had read. I am avoiding looking at the moment. :lol:

Perhaps the 51% is how much of the all sencha produced in all of Japan is produced in Shizuoka? Anyway, I digress. :mrgreen:
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby teaisme » Sep 26th, '11, 17:55

hi!
sorry for slow reply, yes I know what ichibancha is and am not confusing the two.

I was just curious because I have been drinking the yuukicha first flush bancha lately (mainly mixing it with different kukicha. The leaves are thick, dark green, courser, larger. The taste is very unlike sencha or really any green tea I have had. It really adds a nice level to the kukichas. $5 well spent indeed. Esp if you like to try mixing things (good to add contrast ie. something light to offset boldness of the bancha).

Kevangogh wrote:I'm pretty skeptical of anyone that claims their genmaicha is from the first harvest, honestly.

All of yuuki-cha genmai, houji, and bancha is said to be first flush (I believe it).
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby Chip » Sep 26th, '11, 18:03

teaisme wrote:I was just curious because I have been drinking the yuukicha first flush bancha lately (mainly mixing it with different kukicha. The leaves are thick, dark green, courser, larger.

As I mentioned above ... I was refering to first flush but neglected to say so.

Chip wrote:Some could call the 3rd, 4th leaves, etc. bancha. I have also heard that the "heels" of leaves are less desirable and may be found in bancha as well.

So, less desirable parts of first flush harvested are likely what you are seeing based upon your description.
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby AdamMY » Sep 26th, '11, 18:04

Kevangogh wrote:I'm pretty skeptical of anyone that claims their genmaicha is from the first harvest, honestly.


The only people I can see selling legitimate first flush genmai or houjicha, are either naive, or trying to capitalize off the well known and much touted first flushes in the tea industry by buying very very bad first flush tea and masking how bad it is by roasting or adding toasted rice. In short I can see no reason for someone to take quality first flush leaves, and destroy them by toasting them or adding rice.

Genmaicha and Houjicha do have a place, but you have to remember that these teas were created to make bad or old tea drinkable, not because people thought adding toasted grains to their sencha would make great tea better (which I am sure it does not).
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Re: What makes a first flush bancha a bancha?

Postby rdl » Sep 26th, '11, 23:47

AdamMY wrote:
Kevangogh wrote:I'm pretty skeptical of anyone that claims their genmaicha is from the first harvest, honestly.


The only people I can see selling legitimate first flush genmai or houjicha, are either naive, or trying to capitalize off the well known and much touted first flushes in the tea industry by buying very very bad first flush tea and masking how bad it is by roasting or adding toasted rice. In short I can see no reason for someone to take quality first flush leaves, and destroy them by toasting them or adding rice.

Genmaicha and Houjicha do have a place, but you have to remember that these teas were created to make bad or old tea drinkable, not because people thought adding toasted grains to their sencha would make great tea better (which I am sure it does not).

adam,
hibiki-an does not buy their tea from anyone, as they own the tea farms, and they carry two first flush banchas. a simple response from hibiki-an can answer this but i am sure they do not "take quality first flush leaves, and destroy them by toasting them or adding rice," rather they use the leaves remaining after picking the best for ichibancha. you made reference to this in an earlier post.
teaisme,
maybe i am still confused by your question, sorry.
may i ask a further question? the leaf you mention seems more like winter bancha, which is picked in march i believe, after winter. it's picking precedes the first flush pickings. i haven't seen it on yuuki-cha but zencha offers this. i didn't think even the lower leaves of the first flush are quite as you describe.
Last edited by rdl on Sep 27th, '11, 00:00, edited 1 time in total.
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