Dong Cheon uses older growth, natural tea bushes that grow semi-wild near Ssanggyae Temple in Hwagae Valley, Handong County. They also use the Jeong-cha method of production, a rather uncommon way of producing green tea in Korea. The method involves plunging the freshly picked, supple tea leaves in near boiling water. After which, the leaves are shaped and dried simultaneously in the heated iron cauldron without being removed until they are finished. The result is a tea that carries deeper, more augmented flavours and a heavier body.
Let's sit down, put the water on, and open the package of saejak...
Upon opening the bag, an intoxicating odour of strong, deep, tangy, malted cherry/ berry flavours escape into air. These small curly leaves leave a big impression in a roasted base of pine and cereal odours.
Lots of tea is added to the modest grey pot which is still warm from the preheating. One enjoys the wonderful odour of the dry leaf in the warm pot until the water has cooled considerably.
After it is added, the resulting infusion pours a pale green-yellow. This first infusion is sweet and fresh but deep with oak and raspberry fruit tones. The sensation created from these first sips are slippery and they cover the mouth nicely. There is an aftertaste that is slight but deep- pine and fruit.
The second pot is prepared, poured, enjoyed. It brings nutty, pine notes that slip around in the mouth. There are fresh earthy notes as well as some distinct oak and berry notes that have been buried under a dominating roasted nutty taste. The aftertaste develops more complexity to it with the strong berry and wood notes lingering on. The mouth feel seems undecisive between dry and slippery. The result is a lively chalky feeling in the mouth.
The third infusion is more earthy and juicy with a finish of pine on the breath. Floral notes develop in a fresh, creamy fruit flavour much like banana. It moves from deep, juicy, and earthy to sweet, fruity, and creamy when a large gulp is taken. The mouthfeel is pasty, stuck in it is deep flavourful after flavours.
The fourth pot carries a more bitter feel, a reaction, and consequence from trying to push as much flavour out of this tea with such a large amount of dry leaf. The flavours become much softer in this fourth steeping. The bitterness gives way to sweeter, creamier, banana like notes but they struggle under bitterness.
The fifth pot is lighter once more with the flavours muted and smooth floral notes are enjoyed. The mouthfeel is becoming drier but is still of this enjoyable sticky variety.
In the sixth, seventh, and eight infusions the fruitiness wanes a bit, things lighten, bitter edges slowly develop. The aftertaste, creamy and slightly floral, remains relatively strong. This tea is quite palatable even in late infusions if steeping time remains long and temperatures low.
By now the chaqi, which was not so noticeable throughout the session, has snuck up and leaves ones mind swirling.