Monday, July 20, 2009

The Hype About Korean Boseong Green Tea These Days: Notes From 2008 Jungjak Organic Boseong Green Tea


Boseong Green Tea... seems to be the Belle of the Ball in the last few months with attention being lavished upon it from many directions.

At the start of May, Boseong Tea was finally awarded 'Organic' certification from Control Union World Group. This certification makes it organic in the eyes of The European Union, the US Department of Agriculture, and Japan Agricultural standards. The article in Korea's English Newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, that covered this news was seemingly picked up by L.A. Times columnist, Hae-Jin Lee.

It was Nerval's post about a 2008 Boseong Organic Jungjak Green Tea last month that seized ones attention. Why? Well one got a bag of that stuff last year after the completion of a Green Tea Marathon in Boseong. One gave most of it away but still had enough for a few more sessions...


The dry leaves are of Jungjak grade (technically sajak grade) produced on May 3 as indicated on the bag. They come from Boseong Tea, a cooperative that sells the mixed leaves from many tea fields from the Boseong Area. Boseong Tea has done much to bolster its reputation in Korea and is just starting to make inroads internationally. The leaves smell starchy like potatoes, salty like the sea, all hidden beneath a prominent roasted green.

These leaves emulate the serene area from where they grew up. They are a product of their origin and production. Their production is of the hand picked and likely machine produced variety. They have a pan roastiness to them that is a throwback to the old Korean way of producing tea but was likely produced by machine using some sort of steaming that has roots in Japan.

The result is a leaf that has a nice pan roasted odour and is natural looking, full, and voluminous as if the leaf just wilted and fell off the branch.

These thin, spacious, largish leaves are carefully stuffed into the buncheong pot until no more can squeeze in. Water waiting patiently, cooling in the cooling pot, trickles upon them.


The yellow-green, orange tinged liquid is sweet, salty, interesting. It coats the mouth in a thin sheath. It initially comes off tasting a bit like roasted barley tea (boricha) that is so common throughout Korea.

More hot water is put though the motions and the result is a juicy grassy-flowery notes that evolve on the tongue to nutty pine notes. Lime notes linger just below the surface waiting to be set free in later infusions.


And as more water runs through these leaves, these subtleties due appear. The grass-lime is noticeable under a just as gentle nutty pine and more prominent roasty cereal. The blanketing grainy taste is what truly characterizes Bosong green tea, the nutty-pine is typical of Korean greens, and the grassy-lime is perhaps a throw back to the Japanese.

This tea lacks bitterness, instead it coats the tongue in a slippery blandness that targets the tongue and lips. It is easy to brew but still requires the right touch if its nuances are to be fully appreciated.

As the lid is removed between infusions the smells, tastes, sounds of Boseong rush back before hotter water is added and the lid replaced once again.

The tea retains its taste for quite some time. The notes that give this tea its depth wither away slowly, evolving into something new, or just a bit different, infusion to infusion. For this, and the fact that this tea is quite inexpensive, commands deep respect.

After even more sessions, this tea's grassy-lime edge drops off completely leaving behind a solid mouthfeel and barely tea taste which allows its enjoyment to be prolonged.

The weak chaqi lingering in this tea is a touch refreshing as is the memories that trail from it. It tugs one into the past just enough to fully appreciate the present moment with this tea.

Peace

4 comments:

Jason Witt said...

I'm always interested in these teas from the more exotic lands. I wonder where the saltiness comes from? --Jason

Matt said...

Jason,

Sorry about the late reply. Was away from internet for about a week.

The classic writings of tea in Korea state that tea has five tastes: bitter, sour, bland, sweet, and salty. The taste of each tea is a combination of the 5 tastes. This one seemed to have a soft saltiness to it perhaps as a result of its growing location being close to the sea.

Overall, Korean teas seem to have a subtle saltiness that is more prominent than other green tea from different regions. This is especially true for teas picked in the Boseong and Jeju areas.

Thanks for your interest.

Peace

Lewis said...

I'm helping the folks at Matcha Source Green Tea (www.matchasource.com) introduce their products to bloggers. I really enjoyed and your post about making green tea, which is why I contacted you. If you send us an email at lewis@matchasource.com or info@matchasource.com, we can consider sending some complimentary products. A blog post about us would really be much appreciated. Thanks again for all your help

Matt said...

Lewis,

Sent you an email.

Peace