Throughout Korea’s tea growing region there are hundred perhaps thousands of individual artisan tea producers with very small farms, picking and processing their own tea by hand in the same way that their ancestors did many years ago. Almost all use wild or semi-wild bushes that are organically grown. Most limit their production to ujeon, sejak and sometimes jungjak, far fewer Korean producers make hwangcha or balhyocha, and very few make hongcha, even fewer make ttokcha or matcha especially for commercial purposes.
For the most part these small producers never get known outside of their personal group of friends or home villages. Many produce tea simply for their own consumption and to give to friends. Occasionally a tea is so good it is shared with a passing monk or nun who tells his or her friends and the word slowly gets out. One day a nun who knows Shin In-suk told her about a delicious hwangcha she had in Jiri-san. Jiri-san, the 'holy mountain of Korean tea' has many villages each with their own fine artisan tea producers. The nun explained to Shin In-suk that the producer, Jeong Jae Yeun, makes her hwangcha before Buddha’s birthday and dedicates her entire tea production to hwangcha.
That the tea is made before Buddha’s Birthday is extremely important to the production of the best hwangcha. 1 Tea made before Buddha’s Birthday is made of fresh ‘energetic’ young leaves that thus contain the most qi. The difference in taste is remarkable explained the teaware artist Park Jong Il, Shin In-suk’s husband.
But who does that? Most other hwangcha producers make their green tea first. That puts their hwangcha production after Buddha’s Birthday and because it is made from older leaves the tea has less qi.
We have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Jeong Jae Yeun but hope to do that on Tea Tour Korea 2013.
This is what we know about Jeong Jae Yeun. In her mid-60’s Jeong Jae Yeun, who lives near Sancheon has dedicate most of her life to tea and produces only hwangcha, from organically grown wild and semi-wild bushes. We also know her tea becomes highly recommended by the nun who told Shin In-suk and it also comes highly recommended by both Shin In-suk and her husband Park Jong Il. If you have ever visited Park Jong Il most likely you have tasted Jeong Jae Yeun’s hwangcha. On Park Jong Il’s recent trip to China he took this tea and tells me it received great reviews.
nice information about Korean tea.I wanna test Hwangcha tea .ReplyDelete
This tea is truly worth testing. Contact me and I'll try to work something out for you.Delete
I was lucky enough to buy a bag of this tea from Arthur, and have tried it several times. I'm mostly a Chinese tea drinker, so I don't have any basis on which to compare it to other hwangcha, but I've found it to be a remarkable and enjoyable tea. Just looking at the dry leaves one can tell that it's a very carefully prepared tea: it consists exclusively of very fine leaves and buds with tender stems, to such an extent that the dry tea has an unusual appearance of hair or straw, and can actually be difficult to tease apart. One can't help but think how much labor goes into harvesting a given weight of it; knowing Arthur's price for the tea it is apparent that the production of it must largely be a labor of love.ReplyDelete
The taste of the tea is similarly unusual in my experience. Its aromas mostly seem to be sweet, floral fragrances that I usually associate with honey, and maybe some faint spice aromas. The flavor and mouthfeel, though, are really remarkable to me: it is intensely sweet, with a cooling sensation and extremely soft, light tannins. In some ways, the tea seems like a combination of the aromas of a delicate Chinese-style black tea with the flavors of a white or green tea. My first thought after tasting it was that it would make sense that such a tea would come from a mostly green-tea-drinking area, although I suspect the unusually early harvest time makes this tea even sweeter and more like a green tea than hwangcha that is harvested later. In any case, my opinion is that this tea is a great-tasting, easily brewed and different (in a very pleasant, educational way)from most of the teas available even from specialty companies. I'd highly recommend snagging some from Arthur if you can.
Thanks Procius for this extensive insightful comment. I'm glad that you like this tea as much as I do. On Tea Tour Korea 2013 we were fortunate to be able to visit Jeong Jae Yeun. She is a humble woman totally dedicated to this tea - her tea. We will do a post on her and the other artisan tea producers and tea ware artists we visited. But it may take all year to feature each of them.ReplyDelete
Korea's tea leaves came in about 10 days late this year making our arrival time at the beginning rather than at the end of her harvest. But we were able to get a little more of her tea that may last until our shipment arrives. However, I'm beginning to get re-orders already.