Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dao Tea Tasting Event: 2010 Kim Shin Ho Hwagae Valley Saejak Green Tea

This is the first of a series of posts that feature the Hwagae Valley teas sent out to participants of the Dao Tea tasting event. Those who participated or others who have joined in, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section. Let us start with this fresh green by teamaster Kim Shin Ho.

The dry leaves smell rubbery, salty, with a very faint odour of pine. These leaves are added to a preheated pot.

Warm water that has spent much time cooling embraces the dry leaves to signal the start of the first infusion. The first sips that are taken from the yellowish soup are thick and oily with light syrupy honey notes, a very light salty-bitter middle, and a slightly sweet faint floral aftertaste.

The second infusion displays some interesting grainy-salty notes in a thick, full, goopy mouthfeel. There is a slight sweet-grainy aftertaste which lingers for a while showing signs of slight fruitiness. The chaqi disperses lightly in the chest, with the slightest warmth being generated or released in the chest. The stomach embraces this green tea with no resistance.

The third infusion reveals a thick honey-grain flavour that is barely sweet. It really coats the mouth. Most of the sweetness of this tea is in the heavy honey-grain aftertaste. Subtle pine, floral, and salty flavours peek through especially in the aftertaste. Ones forehead gets soft and slightly clammy under this teas influence.

During the fourth infusion the mouthfeel seems to come together pulling the thick, goopy floral feeling into the throat. These floral notes start becoming more apparent.

In the fifth infusion, lighter top notes reconcile with heavier grainy bottom notes. Sweet, lighter cool flavours are more noticeable here. The aftertaste contains heavier notes with lighter florals mixed in.

The sixth infusion has lighter florals continuing to overtake the thicker, heavier flavours. There is a flowery sweet taste that sticks to the corners of ones mouth. The depth of the fresh green-floral taste is starting to flatten out but light notes still ride atop a thick mouthfeel with the grainy flavour barely hanging on. The chaqi has a slight harmonizing nature to it as it quenches the body and focuses the mind.

In the seventh infusion the tea starts to develop sharper corners along with fruity, harsher notes. It also develops a bitter-bland feeling to it which is amplified in the eight infusion. Muted floral notes stay awhile on the breath as this session comes to a close.

Link to Nate's (Subtle Experience Tea Leaves And Rising Steam) Tasting Notes

Link to Adam's (Subtle Experience) Tasting Notes

Link to Ian's (Monkey Teas) Tasting Notes



Michal Tallo said...

...incidentally, I've read two posts on this same tea today - one is yours and the other on a new blog I discovered today -

It's always interesting to read two independent posts on the same tea at the same time, comparing different understanding of tea's characteristics.
Thanks for this post.

Matt said...


Your right, it is always interesting to compare notes on the same tea. Nate's notes do a great job on touching the essence of this tea. One linked his tasting notes to the main post.


Bret said...

This was my favorite of Dao's Sejak teas. Very full, round flavors with plenty of depth. Earthy, slightly vegetal and floral. Crisp and clean pine notes that provide much needed contrast. Something that hints at sweetness, though doesn't quite manifest itself as "sweetness" which on a subconcious level, all it takes is the implication of sweetness to trick my brain into being satisfied. Toasted Nori notes linger in the aftertaste. A great tea.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt, I will be travelling to Seoul in a couple of months. I was wondering if you have any suggestions of where one could find (and perhaps also try) some nice Korean tea. Any help will be greatly appreciated! Many thanks. George

Matt said...


What you say about the "sweetness" rings true. It is like you can sense a honey taste but it is not really sweet. Kind of counter-intuitive. What sweetness there is resides barely in the aftertaste. Interesting tea.


Go to the popular tourist area "Insa-dong" and every second shop will be a teashop. Some are sit down, pay-for-your-tea shops and others are tea reatailers where you can sample for free.



David said...

I shared this tea in a very simple way with a very good friend of mine. I hadn't seen him for a while, and as he is a great fan of chinese green teas, he was quite happy to taste for the first time some high quality korean teas. We also brewed the Ujeon the same afternoon.

So I probably won't be able to describe precisely the nuances of its taste as I did not take any notes or made any kind of efforts to analyse it. Just observing the effect it had on us. I remember it to be very refreshing though, both for the mouth and the spirit. It has a great and rich aroma, combining both floral and more fruity notes. High quality for sure. Very pleasant.

What I remember the most is the very calm influence it had on our conversation. We were very focused and relaxed as we discussed pretty serious subjects.

Where alcohol would have made passion take over, here, reason and patience were likely extended, leading to a very fine afternoon of wonderful talks and debate in the respect of each other. A time very well spent with this tea.

I hope to be more specific about the next teas. But I also find important sometime to let go and just see the influence of tea on us. Not always analysing everything.

I do not regret sharing these two very refined teas with my friend. And I knew it would meant more to him than opening a bottle of very good Bordeaux (which eventually happened. ^^) Sharing was definitively the best part.

Thanks Pedro and Matt.

Matt said...


How appropriate, Koreans also usually drink Ujeon with others who appreciate nice tea due to its higher price. Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Matt. Much appreciated. George

Pedro said...

Matt, Bret, David, Adam & all. Sincere thanks to you for being part of this project. This is Dao Tea's rookie year in business; it's been a fantastic though sometimes bumpy ride, and we depend heavily on support of folks like you.

David. I'm glad you enjoyed the tea with good company. The calming energy it had on your conversation means more to me than tasting notes (with all due respect to tasting notes). Kim Jong Yeol, the tea farmer, will be proud :)

Matt. Is there a plural for "one"? How would you say "we"?

Ben Prentice said...

The nice thing about having a very small amount of a very fine tea, is that it really puts me in the moment. I know that I will probably be not be drinking this tea anytime soon after this one session, so it just becomes me and the tea, nothing else. All the other things that I might be thinking about during the day get put aside to enjoy this tea in quite meditation. I try to do this with all teas I enjoy, but really fine teas tend to do this for me.

As I was tasting this tea, I really enjoyed thinking about how it was processed and all the work that went into making this tea. When sipping this tea, it seemed to remind me of sencha, but with lots of other notes I had a very hard time describing. I noted sweet a sweet bean taste which seemed prominent to me. No astringency, very smooth. A pleasant vegetal taste coats the back of the tongue. This tea had a lot going on and further fueled my desire to try more Korean teas. Thank you Pedro and Matt for this opportunity to try these amazing teas!

Matt said...


hahhaa... Is there a plural for one? ... Just 'we'.


It is wonderful how a small tea sample can captivate the present moment. One can definitely relate.


M said...

Dry leaf: the sea, sand, beaches...

Heated dry leaf: deep and full, baked goods, hint of sand

The tea itself was very full and delicious. After trying all the 2009 teas, this one had me slurping away and very happy to taste something with much more life. A nice salty aroma in the nose, and sweet and umami in the mouth. A nice mouthfeel with a very mild shadow of aftertaste.

The first infusion was easily my favorite, and the tea slowly faded away from there. Later infusions (4, 5, 6, ...) had some sort of soapy flavor on my tongue, not sure what that was.

The end of session left me relaxed and concentrated. Thanks Matt and Pedro.