March is the month when winter sets off and tea plants are pruned to be prepared for the incoming spring.
The big leaves that came all this way through winter, are the very last leaves of the year. Because very coarse, in some regions are just cut off and used as fertiliser.
Nevertheless, in some places those same leaves are not thrown away but considered, instead, as the last harvest of the year.
Called “Kyo bancha” in Kyoto region, and Iri bancha or Hira bancha in other areas, this tea has a very peculiar taste and process.
The steaming of the leaves goes on for much longer – 30 minutes! – to make the leaves soft.
After that, those are dried and roasted.
This type of process gives the tea a pleasant smoky aroma, a golden shade of colour and a spicy-nutmeg aftertaste.
These are the reasons that make this tea to be one of our favourites: despite being considered low in quality on the market, its comforting and warming taste makes it seasonally perfect.
In our opinion, Kyobancha shows that a tea’s quality is not truly measured by its price. The value is in good quality environment, terroir and process – and according to each person’s taste!