Bancha is a common tea in Japan, but there are a few regional banchas that are much less known. One of such rare teas is hirabancha (平番茶) from Shiga Prefecture, that has a unique rustic appearance of large flat leaves with a golden hue. In fact, its name, hirabancha, directly translates to “flat tea” in English.
The leaves for hirabancha are typically harvested in early spring after the winter snow has melted. Having overwintered the cold season, the leaves are tough and mature. Pressed in wooden containers, they are steamed for 30min. Unlike other Japanese green teas, hirabancha skips the rolling process, proceeding directly into drying which results in the signature flat tea leaves.
Hirancha offers a light and refreshing cup with slightly woody undertones. Made from more mature leaves it contains less caffeine, making it a suitable choice for any time of day, even in the evenings. For a delightful hot cup brew 5g of leaves with 200ml of water at 90°C for 60s. Hirabancha also works wonderfully as a cold brew perfect for the warmer seasons as well.