Bancha Tea: From Taste to Brewing Tips!

Jill Caren

Bancha is a low-caffeine, super-cheap green tea with a unique flavor. In this article, I’ll go over the basics of Bancha tea, including its caffeine …

Categories Green Tea

Bancha is a low-caffeine, super-cheap green tea with a unique flavor.

In this article, I’ll go over the basics of Bancha tea, including its caffeine content and differences from Sencha green tea, and how to properly brew it for consistent flavor.

Key Highlights

Bancha tea is cheaper than other Japanese green teas and is known as “everyday tea.”

It’s made from the same plant as Sencha tea but comes from the year’s last tea harvest.

Since it’s made from older and larger tea leaves, Bancha has very low caffeine levels.

What is Bancha Tea? – Intro

Bancha tea is the second most popular green tea in Japan after Sencha.

It comes from the same tea plant (Camellia sinensis) as Sencha and other green teas, but the difference is in the time of the harvest.

Bancha tea dry leaves
Bancha tea loose-leaf

Bancha green tea comes from the year’s last tea harvest, around autumn.

Sencha is plucked during the first flush of the year (spring), whereas Bancha is harvested during the second flush (in the autumn).

This late harvest has a unique effect on the tea leaves. They grow larger as they mature, and they are also darker as they age.

When compared to Sencha, Bancha tea is generally regarded as a lower-grade tea. The grade of Japanese tea is highest for the first flush leaves and gradually lowers with each harvest.

This is due to the Japanese preference for tea’s umami. This is highest at the beginning of the harvest and decreases during the year.

It is considerably less expensive than other Japanese green teas and is commonly used as an everyday tea.

Bancha green tea is usually sipped after a meal in Japan and contains much less caffeine than Sencha or Gyokuro.

A brief history: According to tradition, Bancha teas became popular around the middle of the Edo era (1603–1867), the final period of traditional Japan, a time of internal peace, political stability, and economic progress.

You may come across terms like nibancha, sanbancha, yonbancha, or Ichibancha. Don’t be confused; these are not types of Bancha; the names refer to the time of harvest.

The Taste of Bancha Green Tea

Bancha tea is light and grassy, with just enough vegetal flavor and a hint of astringency and bitterness.

This green tea lacks an umami taste

By the time the Bancha harvest begins, the smoother-tasting polyphenols in the leaves are being replaced by stronger ones, and the leaves have lost the amino acids that provide sweetness and body.

Due to its bigger leaves and occasional stems, when brewed properly, Bancha tea is light-bodied with bright-yellow liquor.

The Difference Between Sencha and Bancha

The first difference is the price. Bancha is always cheaper than Sencha

Another significant difference is that Bancha tea leaves are larger than Sencha tea leaves because they are left on the tea plant for a longer period of time.

Sencha tea leaves are often harvested in the spring, whereas Bancha tea leaves are plucked in the third or fourth flush. As a result, Bancha tea leaves have grown older and larger.

Bancha vs. sencha green tea loose leaf
Bancha vs. Sencha green tea

Additionally, Bancha tea is lower in caffeine and L-theanine than Sencha. It is lower in amino acids, but it contains almost the same levels of catechins (which have potent antioxidant properties) as Sencha.

Catechins and their derivatives are considered to contribute to tea’s beneficial effects. Also, in most cases, Bancha has slightly more calcium and vitamin C than Sencha.

Caffeine in Bancha

Bancha is low in caffeine. An 8 oz (237 ml) cup of Bancha tea has around 10 mg of caffeine.

Good to Know

When re-steeping Bancha tea, the 2nd and 3rd infusions will have even less caffeine.

Compared to Sencha green tea, Bancha contains less caffeine. Since this is a low-caffeine green tea, Bancha is great for those who like to consume green tea with lower caffeine levels.

Why is Bancha low in caffeine? Caffeine in the tea plant is mainly concentrated in younger leaves since the plant produces caffeine as a defense mechanism against insects.

Younger leaves are fragile and more prone to insects, thus the caffeine is concentrated there. Tea leaves that are older and larger are tougher and do not require as much protection.

Since Bancha tea is produced from larger, more mature leaves, it has less caffeine than other green teas such as Sencha or Gyokuro.

How to Properly Brew Bancha Tea 

When brewing Bancha tea, it’s always a good idea to use loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags. This is a recommendation for all teas. Tea bags are usually filled with broken, small leaves and tea dust.

If you’re using a tea bag, simply follow the instructions on the packaging.

Here, I’ll show you how to brew loose-leaf Bancha green tea the right way.

Some important things to know before you start making Bancha green tea:

  • pay attention to the water temperature
  • try to use high-quality Bancha tea
  • steep your tea briefly

The water temperature should be around 80 °C (176 °F). The steeping time should be between 45 seconds and 1 minute.

Some types of Bancha may also be brewed with boiling water, but the steeping period should be very short—around 30 seconds. If this is left for too long, the tea will become extremely bitter.

Brewing Instructions

Step 1: Heat 150–200 ml (5–6.5 fl oz) of water to a temperature of 80 °C (176 °F).

Step 2: Add 2-4 grams (start with one and a half teaspoons) of Bancha tea (loose leaf) to the teapot.

Step 3: Pour the heated water into the teapot and let the tea steep for 45 seconds to a maximum of 1 minute.

Step 4: Pour the tea into a cup once it has finished steeping. Pour the tea all the way to the last drop (if doing a second and third infusion).

Step 5: Bancha tea can be re-steeped 2-3 times or more—until the flavor fades. Use the same water temperature and increase the steep time by about 20 seconds for the second or third infusion.

Reduce the amount of tea leaves used if the finished tea is too strong; if it is too weak, add more leaves. 

Additionally, if the tea is too mild for your taste, raise the water temperature; if it is too bitter, lower the water temperature.

Experiment with the leaf-to-water ratio, temperature, and steep time until you get the right taste for your palate.

The Takeaway

If you enjoy drinking green tea and haven’t tried Bancha yet, I recommend you give it a try.

Aside from being a lower-grade green tea than Sencha, this is a super light tea with little caffeine, making it ideal for everyday consumption.

There’s a reason it’s Japan’s second most popular tea after Sencha. Brew your cup of Bancha tea and try to always use loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags.