Kyobancha (abbr. “Kyoto Bancha”) is a regional tea specialty of Kyoto. It is an (unshaded) Bancha tea that is picked in March, weeks before the first Sencha harvest, and subjected to an intensive roasting after its processing to an (unrolled) green tea. Picked is the leaf material from the previous year that during winter had time to accumulate a set of special taste and aroma substances. Also, the picking of these leaves in March promotes the growth of the new spring’s young shoots. The roasting procedure resembles that in the processing of Hojicha Tea, with the difference that the unrolled leaf material used ot produce Kyobancha is coarser and its roasting more intensive. Our Kyobancha comes from the region of Wazuka, located in central Japan near the cities of Kyoto and Osaka. The teas plants, from which this Kyobancha is is picked, are so-called “Ujicha” tea plants, direct descendants of the first tea bushes ever planted in Japan. The history of these tea bushes goes back to the legendary Buddhist monk and Zen master Esai, who in the late 12th century brought the seeds for these plants from China and planted them in Uji, not far from Wazuka. From there, the cultivation of the tea plant also spread to other centers within the country, while the tea culture developing in parallel spread over all of Japan. The successful cultivation of high quality tea is among others depending on the right climate. The watery regions of Uji and Wazuka with their mild temperatures are optimally suited for this.
Unshaded means, that the tea gardens, where this Houjicha is picked from are exposed to full sunlight before the harvest, unlike Kabusecha or Gyokuro teas, for which the tea plants are half (Kabusecha) or wholly (Gyokuro) shaded for several weeks before the picking. The coarse leaf material is steamed, cooled and dried in unrolled form according to the characteristic Japanese green tea processing method, before the resulting Bancha is additinally subjected to a long and intensive roasting. We procure this Genmaicha tea directly from the poducer’s farm in Japan, which is organic certified according to strict Japanese standards, so that active ingredients, aroma and flavoring substances of the tea are preserved all the way from production right up to your cup.
The particularly long and intensive roasting of the ready processed Bancha green tea, whose visual appearance is reminiscent of late autumn leaves, results once in the aromatic blend of roast aromas, woods and moist autumn leaves fragrances exuded by the dry tea leaves, their magnificent golden shimmering color (“kiniro”) as well as the fresh-spicy and sweet roast taste of the clear, amber color cup, and secondly effects the near-total decaffeination of the tea, which is therefore often also referred to as an “evening tea” or “baby tea”. Kyobancha is enjoyed either hot or cold and in Japan is served throughout the day and also often with meals.
Preparation: Dose Kyobancha tea leaves into the teapot, pour over with water tempered according to below recommendation, let infuse and pour out into previously prepared drinking or tea cups.
Water: For the preparation of Kyobancha, we recommend using as soft as possible (low lime) water of a temperature of 85°C.
Teapot: Best suitable for the preparation of Japanese Bancha and Sencha teas are clay teapots (alternatively Japanese Kyusu or Chinese style teapot), but you will achieve comparably desirable results using a China bone or a glass teapot.
Dosage: While in Japan there’s a tendency to much higher dosages prevailing, a dosage of 4g tea leaves on 200ml water in our experience appears to be entirely adequate as an initial approach to the exploration of one’s own taste and dosaging preferences. The higher the dosage, the more intensive both color and taste of the resulting green tea will be.
Infusion period: with an infusion period fo 2 minutes for a first infusion and approximately equally long follow-up steeps, Kyobancha will produce 2-3 highly delicious infusions.
Tea cups: In Japan, Kyobancha tea is enjoyed in smaller to medium-sized teacups (“Chawan” or “Yunomi”), whose style and prefered size can be adapted to actual requirements, i.e. situation and mood.
For more information and backgrounds on Kyobancha and other characteristic Japanese teas, please also read our pertinent article in Siam Tea Blog, providing an overview of Japan’s tea world, culture and history in a comprehensive yet understandable manner: