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Japanese Bancha Tea: The Ultimate Guide [2021]

The most basic and low quality Japanese tea, but with some special health benefits.

This article was last modified Nov 11th, 2021. by Yuki

The Japanese Bancha Tea, can be considered the most basic of Japanese green tea. However, it has been recently discovered that they contain amazing tangible effects in preventing diabetes!

We'll dive into everything you need to know about Bancha here in this article.

What's Bancha? - Introduction

The common green tea made for everyday use is called "Bancha" in Japan.
The concept of Bancha may be a little difficult to grasp at first, as many different types of tea are referred to as "Bancha". It's actually an umbrella term for teas manufactured in different ways that is intended to be inexpensive and suited for everyday use.
It's somewhat similar to the concept of a "house wine" you may find on the menu of the restaurant. - it's inexpensive and good value, but the wine may be totally different depending on the restaurant. Bancha is similarly an inexpensive green tea but of good value.
Sometimes it is referred as the "non-standard" green tea because tea leaves that have odd shapes or have become too hard and not suitable for Sencha will be gathered and be used to make Bancha.
I'm sure you're thinking... well in that case, does it taste good?
It indeed does!

(Of course, not as much as a Sencha if you just compare the taste. But it's value for money!)
It is an economic option, and is considered a "low-grade" Japanese green tea. However, it is enjoyable and popular in Japan. It's the "everyday Japanese tea" practiced in many Japanese homes.
Bancha in Japanese Articles

Bancha written in Japanese

Be careful - certain types of roasted Japanese tea are called "Bancha" as well.
This really depends on the area of Japan. For example, if you are in Kyoto, you will end of with a "Kyobancha" when you order Bancha.
In Tealife and in this article, we'll stick to calling this type of tea "Houjicha" instead of Bancha.  
Let's explore deeper into the world of Bancha!

Japanese Bancha Tea leaves

The Taste of Bancha

How does the Bancha taste like?
The Bancha is a light, refreshing tasting tea with a straw-ish aroma. It has a defined astringency and bitterness to it - which is the part of the taste you should enjoy when drinking a Bancha.
If you look at the nutrient profile, it will easily explain the reason behind this taste.
Firstly, the amount of nutrition overall is much reduced compared to a standard Sencha.
Especially the nutrients that constitute the umami of the tea are significantly lower. The amino acid theanine and vitamin C only amount in the range of 30% - 50% as compared to a standard sencha.
This obviously effects the taste of the tea significantly.
If you're very well used to having sencha all the time, it may feel like it lacks the umami taste that you would expect from a Japanese tea.
One the other hand, they actually have a similar volume of catechin as compared to a standard Sencha. This allows the tea to maintain a strong astringency and bitterness in the taste.
The taste of this tea is centered around the astringency of the Catechin.

The Health Benefits

Bancha's health benefits are similar to that of other Japanese green tea. However, there are some notable differences.

While high grade tea such as Sencha or Gyokuro will use young leaves, bancha will use grown adult leaves to make tea. Due to this, there will be higher levels of substances such as potassium and calcium, which are essential minerals to your body.

Another benefit is that the caffeine reduces as the tea leaves grow. You don't have to worry about taking too much caffeine when you're drinking Bancha.

On the other hand, other substances such as Theanine or vitamin E tend to be significantly reduced in Bancha. This is because Bancha would generally use leaves from later harvesting periods. The nutrients of the tea leaves tend to be concentrated in the first harvesting period.

Recently, here has been a new significant finding that Bancha may help prevent diabetes.

According to research done by professor Shimizu in Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, the substance called polysaccharide extracted from the leaves helps the management of blood glucose levels. She conducted experiments on rats and saw tangible results. This effect to lower blood-glucose levels is especially strong in Bancha produced during autumn. She also adds that because polysaccharides are easily combustive by heat, it's better to extract the tea using normal water and not boiling water.

We all know that diabetes is a serious disease. If you have high blood glucose levels, you should definitely consider adding Bancha to your diet.

You can read more about this in the Akibancha and Shuto-bancha article.

Japanese tea harvesting

The Name and Related Names

Here are some types of teas that are called "Bancha".

San-Bancha, and the Yon-bancha

The tea harvested from the first harvesting season in spring is called the Ichi-bancha. The tea from the second harvesting session is called the Ni-bancha. Though the name has "Bancha" in them, these teas wouldn't be considered Bancha. Yes, a bit confusing if you're not Japanese.

The San-bancha and the Yon-bancha are the tea leaves from the 3rd and 4th harvesting sessions respectively, and these leaves will be generally used as Bancha.

Aki-Bancha, and the Shuto-Bancha

This is also commonly called the "Bancha".

Very similar concepts to the San-Bancha and the Yon-Bancha but slightly different. When the San-Bancha harvesting does not happen, and is harvested together with the Yon-Bancha, it becomes called an Akibancha or a Shuto-bancha.

Harvest Session Name of tea Start of Harvest

1st Harvest

Ichibancha or Shincha

From early April

2nd Harvest


From early June

3rd Harvest


From early July

4th Harvest


From Late September

3rd Harvest, but conducted late Autumn

Akibancha or Shuto-Bancha

From late September

This is a harvesting strategy employed in order to maximize the taste of the Ichibancha of the following year.

So you can very well say that this Bancha is merely a bi-product of this harvesting strategy!


If you go to Kyoto and ask for a Bancha, this is what you'll get.

The name "Kyo-bancha" suggests that it's a type of Bancha from Kyoto, but it actually isn't.

It's a type of tea that is categorized under what is called the "Iri-bancha". While it may use similar grade tea leaves to the Bancha, it takes a very different manufacturing process.

It has a very distinct smoky taste, almost like firewood! It's a delicious type of tea too.

Kyobancha tea leaves

Similar to Kyo-bancha, other areas use the name Bancha for types of Hojicha as well. In the Ishikawa prefecture, Bancha is used for Houjicha made from Kukicha or "twig tea".

A cup of japanese tea

How to make a delicious cup of Bancha



2 servings

Water (ml)

200 ml

Leaves (g)


Leaves (roughly in teaspoons)

3 tsp

Temperature (Celsius)


Brewing time (Seconds)

30 seconds

Chart: Instructions for Brewing Bancha

When you're preparing Bancha, you want to make sure you prepare a large Kyusu or a Dobin (which are Japanese Teapots). There are 2 reasons for this.

  1. The leaves are much larger than the normal Sencha.
  2. You'll drink more, so you'll want to let it seep in a lot of water

Use boiling water and infuse for a quick 30 seconds. This will contain the bitterness of the Catechin to come out too much. Read more about how to prepare delicious Bancha here.

If you're conscious about your blood glucose, it's better to infuse in cold water.


How is Bancha made? (Manufacturing Method)

Bancha can be made in different ways. In general, there are 3 large categories. Let's take a look into these.

1. Bancha which use leaves from the 3rd or 4th harvest of the year

Green tea leaves are harvested several times throughout the year. The first harvest will come around spring to take the first flush of leaves coming from the tea plant, and these leaves contain the most nutrients accumulated through the winter. These are regarded and used for higher grade tea such as Sencha or Gyokuro.

The 3rd or 4th harvest will usually come late summer or later. In comparison to the 1st or 2nd harvest, the leaves will be dramatically less in nutrients. These leaves will be used to produce Bancha.

2. Bancha which uses leaves harvested in the Autumn or Winter

Some plantations will wait for their later rounds of harvesting to be conducted in Autumn or Winter. Sometimes this is conducted as a part of the maintenance and preparation for the cold winter. The leaves collected at this time will also be called Bancha. This Bancha is sometimes called the "Aki Fuyu Bancha", which means Autumn and Fall Bancha.

These are the type of Bancha that is found to show effectiveness in containing blood glucose.

3. Bancha leaves removed from Sencha

During the process of making Sencha, leaves that are too hard or too large may be deemed not suitable, and taken out. These leaves will be gathered and then used to make Bancha.

Some History Related to Bancha

Before the "Sencha" became popular around the Edo era around the 18th century, most of the green tea made is considered Bancha based on the current definitions.
Tea trees were commonly used in common households as fencing between the houses. The Japanese will take leaves from these trees to create their own home-made green tea. This is a similar quality to the current Bancha.
After the mid Edo-era, Sencha started to spread and became popular.


Does Tealife carry Bancha?

Unfortunately, we don't carry Bancha at the moment.

Should I worry about the pesticides in Bancha?

When looking for Bancha, it's a good idea to look for products that use less pesticides.

Japanese tea tend to require the use of pesticides in Summer when the insects do come out. This is why the 1st flush leaves are regarded as not having issues with pesticide usage.

The timing of the Bancha harvest will take place after summer. If the farm uses high levels of pesticides, it may reside within the tea.


If you're looking for a light and refreshing tea for everyday use, Bancha is a good place to start. If you have high glucose levels and want to prevent diabetes, then definitely you should drink this every day!

Author Yuki


Yuki is the Editor-in-Chief AND Community Manager at Tealife. He bleeds Japanese Tea and loves being a part of the Japanese Tea journey of others. Writes, does events, conducts tasting sessions, drinks, drinks and drinks tea! Easily accessible - hit him up on whatsapp (+65) 85882980.