Topic: Bancha (番茶)
I've read many times that bancha(番茶) is considered a common or low-grade tea. However, I've noticed that, perhaps because of this reputation, it is rarely sold in the United States. There is also a lot of low-quality sencha floating around out there, especially in tea bags. Sencha seems to have somehow become the de-facto "default" Japanese green tea sold in western countries: companies that do not specialize in Japanese teas and do not always know much about selecting the best teas will often sell sencha and nothing else.
The few times I have seen bancha for sale and tried it, it has often been better than a lot of sencha. It's been my experience that the companies that offer bancha tend to be the ones that know more about Japanese tea.
There's also some level on which I don't think of sencha as being "better" than bancha in terms of its flavor, aroma, or how I feel after drinking it, even when comparing it with sencha of high quality. There are times when I simply don't feel like drinking sencha, but bancha hits the spot.
Have others had similar experiences as well?