Over the last couple of days I have been tasting a handful of Korean teas. They truly are beautiful and interesting in their own way; robust, complex, with subtle notes of dried fruit, seaweed, fresh-cut grass and more, depending on the tea.
One that I particularly love and have been drinking for the last few weeks is Jungjak Hadong. It is harvested on May 21, or Soman, "the day of steady growth," and is the 3d pluck. In Korea, the 1st (Ujeon, a bud and 1 leaf), 2nd (Sejak, a bud and 2 leaves), 3rd pluck (Jungjak, a single leaf) are often only a few days apart and as a result the flavor and mouthfeel have minor differences. I love this Jungjak, which is considered artisanal as it is handcrafted all the way through (many Korean teas are machine processed to a certain extent.) What makes this tea extra special is that it is a small production tea with very little available. Get your hands on some, you'll be glad you did.
Requiring no rinsing of the leaves, you can enjoy Jungjak from the get go, unlike many (not all) teas that undergo an initial rinse prior to steeping. Also only about half the amount of leaves to water ratio compared to Chinese tea is necessary without compromising on flavor. Indeed, for Korean teas, less is truly more. In general, Korean tea leaves can be steeped three to five times. This is partly due to the delicate nature of the leaves, the initial release of their pungent essence, and the fact that less leaves are used in general. In this way the tea is enjoyed at its most flavorful moment every single time, the flavor intensifying on the 2nd and 3rd steeps.
I am happy to offer Jungjak Hadong, one of Korea's very first and highest grades of tea, this one very balanced. Hadong County is where Korea’s tea history begins. Using traditional methods for processing, tiny and delicate leaves are hand-harvested, dried and heated to immediately stop oxidation and maintain a deep green color. The robust, sweet and savory grassy flavor lingers as you contemplate the “soup,” a crystal clear vibrant yellowish-green hue. This premium mountain Spring green tea, has been cultivated at the foothills of Mount Jirisan, since the very first tea seeds were brought back from China during its Tang Dynasty era. Planted along its south-facing nutrient-rich slopes, alongside rivers and streams with perfect wild growing conditions, as well as the energy of the calming temples, it is exquisitely balanced and refreshing like first morning’s dew.
I love a delicious green tea in the morning, when just waking up. It puts just enough zing in my step!