Drank this again a few days ago: the toasty is never bitter or overwhelming, just cozy—roasted corn, not scorched barley—and the sweet almost fruity flavor keeps going for many infusions. An excellent later-in-the-evening tea.
San Nen Bancha means “3 year” Bancha. “Bancha” can refer to a tea made from leaves that are large, coarse, etc. and/or come from a late or end of season harvest. This tea is harvested at various times throughout the year, mainly in March, June and October, and it is comprised of tea from the producer’s Kyoto area farm, but, more recently, this particular producer has had to bring in more comparable old leaf material from Mie and Nara because demand for his tea is far greater than what he can produce on his Kyoto farm.
The source materials for this tea come from 2-3 year old leaves along with the accompanying stem and twig material cut during the mechanized harvesting process. Note: the vast majority of tea in Japan is harvested by machine. Machine harvesting is not an indication of poor quality. After harvest, the tea is steamed, etc to be made into a type of Aracha. At this point, the leaves are sorted to remove any unwanted material and given a thorough drying before they are packed away for storage. The tea is then aged at room temperature for approximately 3 years to smooth and mellow its flavor. After the leaves have matured/aged to the appropriate level, this producer gives this tea what I would term a medium intensity but thorough roast to before packaging and sending it to market.
The flavor of this tea is exceptionally soft, roasty, sweet and smooth with very little to no astringency at all. As strange as this may sound, the only adjectives that I can seem to come up with to convey the feeling of this tea are “warm, soft and comfortable.” It is a great evening tea in my opinion because of it’s low caffeine content. It is very easy on the stomach, and it is common in Japan for this tea to be served to very elderly people as well as babies as young as one month old!
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