Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Ssang Kye Saejak Grade Semi Wild Hadong Green Tea

Ssang Kye is one of the most popular producers of green tea in Korea. This is partly because of the care they take in production. The tea is picked and processed carefully by hand and every step is overseen by a world class tea master.

These dry leaves, after being liberated by layers of beautiful tea packaging, smell of deep, heavier roasted, nutty notes. The scent of the dry leaves is very deep- somewhere in the depth hide fruity notes. These leaves which were picked and produced on April 18th of this year are especially fragrant.

This tea is enjoyed in ceremony. The sound of boiling water signals the start. It is poured first into the cooling bowl. The grey cracks in the belly of the cooling bowl that are formed when new water is added slowly melt into a uniform white. The water is moved from that bowl to the tea pot and from the tea pot it is poured into the serving pot, then the cups. It waits there.

The near boiling water enters the cooling bowl once again. It waits there for quite sometime. Steam slowly snakes into the air- evaporating into mist. One takes this time to calm the mind even further. The water waiting in the cups is eventually discarded.

One fishes the small dry leaves from the bag and guides them reverently into the tea pot. After the water has cooled to below 70 degrees one pours it over these leaves.

This first infusion is much like the initial scent- roasted, nutty, and deep. Also light sweet and salty notes are apparent and brilliantly balance the taste. A slippery dry viscus coat slides over the tongue and mouth with each sip. There is a whisper of fruitiness in its depth.
One prepares the next infusion, waiting until the water cools to the proper temperature before filling the pot. More evergreen notes come out of the deep base of roasty, nutty green tea. Spicy notes are also detected and enjoyed. The mouthfeel is right- lightly filling the tongue and mouth, drying it slightly. The liquor is a clear, crisp, mellow slightly yellow green.

The third infusion is prepared. Dry and sweet are left covering the mouth and is suspended in the breath before trailing off. This tea is deep- every sip is like sipping the forest from which these leaves come.

The flavour of this tea really moves in the mouth. This is apparent in the fourth infusion when a splash of evergreen and lime turns quickly into more woody notes. There is a subtle persimmon spiciness that leans into dry. The fullness in the mouth really makes this tea. The qi is crisp, clear sedative and exciting. It brings gentle peace.

The tea begins to thin out in the mouth in the fifth infusion with mainly lime and wood notes which finish drier, thinner.

When hotter water and longer infusion times are used late into the session. There is still some flavor and vibrancy left in these leaves but wood, dryness, grass, and lime notes, those typical of green tea, are mainly pushed out.

You can only push so far. This tea tells you when its finished as there is nothing but that typical 'pondiness' left in the cup to enjoy.

Edit: This tea was initially posted as an "Ujeon" but has since been changed to a "Seajak".



Bret said...

Your photos always make the tea look so delcious. Have you any idea where I could buy some good quality Korean teas online?

Matt said...


Thanks for your kind words.

See the comments section of the post at the bottom of this page ( to see some ideas on how to get Korean tea online.