Tearing open the top of the bag then opening the zip lock reveals a surprise- the smell of roasted nutty chocolate and cherry notes that transform into a more common nutty cereal odour. This doesn't smell like your typical Handong green tea. Perhaps its a yellow tea, or an autumnal green, maybe a roasted green?
The leaves are scooped out and examined- small, faded, dusty brown leaves. The dry leaves look too dark to be a green tea yet too faded, dusty, and light to be a yellow. The leaves are rolled like a green tea, not tightly wound like a yellow. These clues and the predominately toasty cereal scent of the leaves suggests a roasted green tea. A tea not all that common in Korea.
These leaves are guided into the pot and after the water has cooled, it to is added. The tea pours out a turbid yellow-brown.
The first infusion carries a strong taste of hay, nuts, and strong cereal notes that almost drown out all of the sweetness and actual tea tastes. This first infusion is pondy and roasty. The lips numb, the tongue and mouth are sparsely coated. Its body is thin in the mouth.
The second infusion brings more of that hollow roasted cereal which is still felt mainly on the lips, tingling them. The flavour becomes more tart. Hay notes linger just a short while on the breath.
In the third infusion a rubbery mouthfeel and aftertaste develops. More hollow graininess. It doesn't move much from here. The later infusions are more of the same with the taste becoming thinner, lighter, and more grassy. In the end one attempts to over steep this tea, attempting to pull something interesting from it. One is only greeted with thin, bitter, astringent graininess.
The faint qi of this tea is quite mixed up and impure. It leaves one feeling somewhat more energetic but more hazy and lethargic than one should feel from a green tea. The overall presentation of this tea leads one to believe that it was improperly produced. The production did not harmonize with the tea resulting in a product that doesn't flow throughout the body and mind but instead clouds it.
When the wet leaves are examined there are little flecks of ash deposited in the small, still curled up, leaves. This could be evidence of a wood burning roast. Roasting tea using a wood burning method is much more difficult to achieve good results compared to the easily controlled setting of gas roasting.
One has learned from this tea. One hopes the producer learns from this tea too, correcting mistakes and improving production next year.