Review: Norbu Tea San Nen Bancha

Green Tea, Japanese Tea, Norbu Tea Add comments
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It smells spectacular, mostly like chicory and hazelnut and somewhat earthy."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.9/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 9/10, Geoff gave it 9/10
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I'll be honest. I believe this is my first aged green tea. Okay, that's not the whole truth, so I'll try again. Until I saw this, I didn't even realise aged green tea existed. Aged pu-erh, of course. Aged oolong, definitely. But I wouldn't have thought green tea would be tenacious enough to withstand ageing. Had I thought it through, I would have expected a bold Chinese green to be the ageing type, as their Japanese counterparts tend to be far more delicate and finicky. And had I picked a Japanese tea to age, it wouldn't have been a bancha, due to its reputation as a lesser leaf. In all ways, to me this tea is an enigma. I find things that confuse intriguing, so I had to try this.

The san nen in the title of this tea means "three year," named so because it has been aged at room temperature for three years. Bancha refers to leaves that are large/course/etc. or late harvest teas. Since this is a multi-harvest leaf, the bancha title must refer to the fact that the leaves are mostly twigs with a few large crunchy brown leaves throughout.

I steep three grams in a preheated cup with 6 ounces of 190° water for two minutes. It smells spectacular, mostly like chicory and hazelnut and somewhat earthy. Smooth. So smooth. Incredibly smooth. Rich, bold flavour. The profile reminds me of coffee somewhat, but it's a mellow version with a more pleasant aftertaste. The finish is wonderfully nutty, and it lasts a pleasantly long time.

Steep two I leave for 40 seconds. It's a milder version of the first. Not much has changed, but everything has mellowed out somewhat. Steep three I leave three minutes, and again it is similar to the first but still mellower.

Next time I would probably use more leaf to really bring out the flavour, but I'm quite happy with how this version turned out. It's a relaxing tea, and the taste reminds me somewhat of the nuttiness of hojicha, but a bolder, more complex version. It has a hint of the dirty/earthy flavour you often find in aged teas, especially pu-erhs.

— To purchase Norbu Tea San Nen Bancha, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Katie Katie
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