Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Updated List of English Online Korean Tea Vendors And Their Korean Teas

The following is an updated list of all known English online vendors selling Korean loose leaf tea. Each vendor is divided by country and includes a link to their web page and a short write up about how/where they source their Korea tea. Following this is a link to their current Korean tea products. Other information is also included about the type of Korean tea produced, the Korean tea producing area, the grade of tea (if applicable). Also listed is any other vendors which sell the same tea for comparison. The names of the teas are taken from the vendor's web pages and additions are added in brackets.

Reviews and background on many of these teas and the producers who make them can be found by searching this blog.  In these posts are links to other blogs which have reviewed the same tea.

If you know of any others that are not mentioned, please leave a comment and they will be added to the list. This is not an endorsement of these teas, tea companies, or tea vendors, it is simply a list.

North American Online Korean Tea Vendors

United States of America:

Butiki Teas

This company offers one Korean tea. Currently, its source, production, harvest year, and grade are unknown.

Green Tea:

South Korean Green (sold out)

Detroit Zen Center

Currently they do not offer Korean teas for sale over the internet.

Fava Tea Company

This company offers one Korean tea. Currently, its source, production, harvest year, and grade are unknown.

Green Tea:

South Korean "Yun"

Good Green Tea

These guys are quickly becoming the most diverse Korean tea dealer in the West.  They carry teas from three of the oldest and most established Korean tea companies, Hankook Tea, Ssang Kye, and Jukro.  They price the tea at prices close to Korean shelf prices and offer free shipping. Ssang Kye tea is also stocked by Shan Shui Tea (below), Jukro tea is also stocked by CoreaColor (below), and (of course) Hankook Tea is stocked by Hankook (below).  They are also beginning to bring in limited number micro farmed teas as well under their brand ZeDa. Currently they have ZeDa and Jukro 2013 harvest green tea.

Green Tea:

Teuk Seon Green Tea (Late Saejak)

Jeong Seon Green Tea (Jungjak)

Ssangkye Premium Woojeon

Ssangkye Jakseol (Seajak)

Ssangkye Roasted Sajack

Ssangkye Jongno (Jungjak)

Jukro Green Tea Saejak

Jukro Green Tea Jungjak

Jukro Green Tea Daejak

ZeDa Sejak Green Tea (sold out)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Oolong Tea (same as Hankook's Hwang Tea (Yellow Tea))

Ssangkye Black Tea Sejack

(Ssang Kye) Chun Go Hyang- Hwang Cha Yellow Tea

ZeDa Hwang Cha/ Yellow Tea

Powdered Green Tea:

Gamnong Matcha (Powdered Green Tea)

Ssangkye Sejak Powdered Tea

Hancha Tea

Currently the region, grade, and harvest year of these Korean teas are unknown.  This site is currently down.

Green Tea:

Early Summer Jakseol

Lux Green

Misty Green

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Amber Gold

Hankook Tea Company

The first Korean company to set up shop in the West. They produce their own tea from their own tea gardens most of which are around the Gwangju area.  They are picked by hand then machine produced. They carry two lines of tea- one carrying the highest Korean Organic certification and the other their traditional offering.

Green Tea:

Organic Gamnong Green Tea (Early Saejak)

Organic Chut Mool Green Tea (Late Saejak)

Organic Doo Mool Green Tea (Jungjak)

Ujeon Gamro Green Tea

Gamnong Green Tea (Early Saejak)

Teuk Seon Green Tea (Late Saejak)

Jeong Seon Green Tea (Jungjak)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Hwang Tea (Yellow Tea)

Powdered Green Tea:

Gamnong Matcha

Morning Crane Tea

These guys source their tea from famous tea producer Dong Cheon, a tea cooperative of 88 farmers in the Ssangkye tea producing area. The tea is picked by hand then standardized production methods are used including the Jung cha method. This tea is true semi-wild tea. These same teas are also offered by Phoenix Tea Shop. In late 2012 they started to source semi-wild and wild teas from small farms.   You can get a hold of them through the contact info on their blog.

Green Tea:




Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Dan-cha (hong cha)

2012 Jeong Jae Yeun Wild Jiri Moutain Hwang Cha

These guys source their tea from famous tea producer Dong Cheon, a tea cooperative of 88 farmers in the Ssangkye tea producing area. The tea is picked by hand then standardized production methods are used including the Jung cha method. This tea is true semi-wild tea. They currently offer 2011 teas. These same teas are also offered by Morning Crane Tea and Tea Trekker.

Green Tea:

Dong Cheon Sejak (sold out)

Dong Cheon Jungjak (sold out)

Dong Cheon Daejak (sold out)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Dong Cheon Red Tea (Dan-cha)

Republic Of Tea (formally Rare Tea Republic)

Republic of Tea recently took amalgamated its side company Rare Tea Republic.  This outfit sources their tea from a small cooperative in Hadong. It is all hand picked by farmers and hand produced by teamaster Lee Kyong Sook. They sell 2012 harvest.

Green Tea:

Ha Dong Sejak

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Ha Dong Bohea Green Tea

Shan Shui Teas

These guys buy a variety of popular, reputable Hadong and Ssanggye area teas (such as Ssang Kye and Koryeo) from well known and established Korean producers and sell them for a mark-up on their site. Currently they have a nice selection of 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 teas in stock.

Green Tea:

Tokpoom Goryeo (Premium Ujeon) (2012 is sold out, older harvest years still available)

Woojeon Goryeo (Ujeon) (2012 is sold out, older harvest years still available)

Saejak Goryeo (2012 is sold out, older harvest years still available)

Saejak Ssanggye

Joongjak Ssanggye (Jungjak)

Joongjak Goryeo (Jungjak)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Woojeon Cheongcha (Ujeon)

Teokseon Cheongcha Goryeo (premium Ujeon)


This large tea company more famous for its teabags offers a loose Jeju green tea. Harvest year, production, grade, and source unknown.

Green Tea:

Jeju Korean Green

Tea Trekker

Their teas are from Hankook Tea (see above), the first Korean company to set up shop in the West. Hankook Tea's gardens are mostly located around the Gwangju area.  They are picked by hand then machine produced. Tea Trekker carry only 2012 teas.

Green Tea:

Jaksul Cha- Gamnong (Early Saejak)

Jaksul Cha- Teuksun (Late Saejak) (sold out)



This is one of Canada's "Big Three" tea chains- the first tea chain store to offer Korean Tea in North America. Their tea is sourced from a farmers co-op on Jeju Island where it is at least partially machine produced.

Green Tea:

Korean Sejak


They source semi-wild Hwagae Valley tea directly from teamaster Kim Jong Yeol (Butea).  All the tea available is from the 2012 harvest.  Kim Jong Yeol (Butea) is also available from Jiri Mountain Tea Company (below), Tea Mountain (below), and In The Mood For Tea (below).  They even source 2010 ddok cha coins from Bo Hyang Tea in the Boseong growing area.  They are the only western source for coin style ddok cha.

Green Tea:

Sejak (sold out)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Balhyocha Saebyok (ujeon grade)

Balhyocha Noeul (saejak grade) (sold out)

Balhyocha MHL(daejak grade)

Ddok Cha Coins (2010-Boseong)

European Online Korean Tea Vendors

Czech Republic:

Bily Jerab

They sell real semi-wild Jiri mountain tea produced by famous teamaster Shin Gwang-su. Currently one is unsure wether they take international orders. The harvest year of these teas are currently unknown.

Green Tea:

Shin Gwang-su Seikou

Shin Gwang-su Sumi

Shin Gwang-su Sunsumi (sold out)

Nokcha (grade and region unspecified) (sold out)

Dobra Cajovna

They source their tea from established producers in the Jiri Mountain area. They have two teahouses in the USA that carry these teas. They are currently sold out of all Korean tea.

Green Tea:

Nokcha (Jungjak- sold out)

Jookro Seajak (sold out)

They source Hadong, Ssanggye area tea right from small producers.  Currently, they have 2012 teas in stock.

Green Tea:

Ujeon Jakseolcha- Sparrow's Tongue (sold out)

Nokcha Sejak (sold out)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Hwang Cha- Yellow Tea

Tea Mountain

These guys carry 2011 teas from Hwagae Valley producers- Kim Jong Yeol (Butea) and Kim Shin Ho (Samtae). They also stock Jukro's cake "Tong E Cha" balhyocha.  Kim Jong Yeol (Butea) 2012 teas can also be purchased at O5tea (above), Jiri Mountain Tea Company (below), and In The Mood For Tea (below).

Green Tea:

Saejak Butea (Kim Jong Yeol)

Saejak Samtae (Kim Shin Ho)

Jungjak Butea (Kim Jong Yeol)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Balhyocha Saebyeok Hyanggi "Sunrise" (Kim Jong Yeol)

Balhyocha Noeul Hyanggi "Sunset" (Kim Jong Yeol)

Hwagae Uricha Tongecha (Jukro)


East Teas

They source their tea from Dong Cheon,  a tea cooperative of 88 farmers in the Ssangkye tea producing area. The tea is picked by hand then standardized production methods are used. This green tea is true semi-wild tea produced using machine production and the jeung cha method.

Green Tea:

Sparrow's Tongue (Jiri Mountain, Ujeon)

Nokcha (Boseong, Saejak)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Hongcha (Region not specified)

Nothing But Tea

Green Tea:

Korean Green Tea FOP

Postcard Teas

They source their tea from Dong Cheon, a tea cooperative of 88 farmers in the Ssangkye tea producing area. The tea is picked by hand then standardized production methods are used. This green tea is true semi-wild tea produced using machine production and the jeung cha method.  Dong Cheon teas are also available from Morning Crane Tea (above), Pheonix Tea Shop (above), and East Teas (above).

Green Tea:

Sparrow's Tongue (Jiri Mountain, Ujeon) (sold out)

Nokcha (Boseong, Saejak)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Korean Breakfast (Dan Cha)



These guys buy a variety of popular, reputable Hadong and Ssanggye area teas (such as Jukro and Woon Sang) from well known and established Korean producers and sell them for prices comparable to the Korean shelf price.  Antique Alive (below) also stocks Woon Sang tea and Good Green Tea (above) stocks Jukro.  Le Palais Des Thes (below) also stocks Jukro's Uricha (balhyocha).

Green Tea:

Juk Woojeon 80 (Ujeon)

Juk Woojeon 40 (Ujeon) (sold out)

Woonsejak 80 (Saejak) (sold out)

Woonsejak 40 (Saejak)

Juk Jungjak

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Uricha (sold out)


Le Palais Des Thes

This was probably the first online Westren tea vendor to sell Korean tea. They only carry one Korean tea, Jukro's balhyocha. They have been carrying this famous Korean yellow tea for years.  CoreaColor (above) also stocks this tea.

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Jukro Black Tea (Balhyocha)



These guys offer tea from all of the three main production areas of Korea. From Jeju they offer a tea from O'Sulloc. From Boseong they offer a all hand produced Daejak grade tea. From Hwagae Valley they sell a first pick Ujeon, standard Ujeon, and a saejak- all hand picked and produced using traditional methods and semi-wild leaves. All their teas are believed to be from the 2011 harvest.

Green Tea:

Sulloc Cha Jaksul (Jeju)

Gisancha Daejack (Boseong)

Special Woojun (Hwagae, early Ujeon)

Sejak (Hwagae, Saejak)


House of Tea

This tea company sourced its 2011 Korean tea from a unique producing area, Sacheon. This location near the South Sea located about half way between more traditional tea growing regions of Hadong and Goseong.  Their 2012 Korean tea is from Hadong tea producing area.

Green Tea:

Nokcha Hadong Woojeon (sold out)

Nokcha Hadong Saejak

Nokcha Sacheon Woojeon Organic (sold out)

In the Mood for Tea

They source semi-wild Hwagae Valley tea directly from teamaster Kim Jong Yeol (Butea).  They carry 2012 harvest green tea and a balhyocha from the 2010 harvest.  Kim Jong Yeol (Butea) is also available from Jiri Mountain Tea Company (above), Tea Mountain (above), and O5tea (above).

Green Tea:

Ujeon Green Tea

Sejak Green Tea (sold out)

Jungjak Green Tea (sold out)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized tea):

Balhyocha Top Grade, Hwang-cha (seajak grade- sold out)

Balhyocha, Hwang-cha (jungjak grade)


These guys sell Jukro tea, a classic Hwagae Valley tea producer that produces all there tea by hand. Jukro green tea does not sell its tea in bulk so you always receive original packaging and freshness guaranteed. Jukro tea is also available from Good Green Tea (above) CoreaColor (above) Le Palais Des Thes (above). They currently sell 2012 harvest.

Green Tea:

Korea Hadong Woojeon

Korea Hadong Saejak

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized tea):

Korean Hadong Black


Antique Alive

These guys operate an exclusively web based store in Korea. They export a lot of Korean things. Some of these things are Jirisan and Hwagae Valley Korean green tea. They buy from famous producers (such as Woon Sang) and sell them at a markup. CoreaColor (above) also sells Woon Sang tea.

Green Tea:

Jirisan Ujeon

Jirisan Saejak

Jirisan Jungjak

Jirisan Daejak (sold out)

Hwagae Valley Ujeon (sold out)

Hwagae Vally Saejak

Jiri Mountain Daejak (sold out)

Jiri Mountain Tea Company

The owner sources tea from family ran farms in Hwagae. He is on the ground in Hwagae choosing only the teas that he feels are of quality. Therefore his exact source changes from year to year depending on the quality of the harvest. They are the first online vendor to offer 2013 Korean tea, a Ujeon by Lee Deok-Ju.  He still has stock of Saejak grade green tea from Oh Si Yeong and balhyocha by Yoon Ja-He and Kim Jong Yeol-Butea.

Korean Arts

Korean Arts, an exclusively internet based business, exports a bunch of different Korean stuff including boxes of O'sulloc tea (see below). The Se-jak that Korean Arts sells is an O'sulloc premium tea, the other three are generally sold at Korean supermarkets and are not available on the O'sulloc English webpage for purchase. Believe their stock is 2010.

Green Tea:

Se-jak (Se-jak grade) TG002S (Sejac, see below)

Jak-seol (Jung-jak grade) TG003O (Sulloc Jaksul Okrok)

Man-su (Dae-jak grade) TG004M (Sulloc Jaksul Dukgum)

Halla (Dae-jak grade) TG004H (Sulloc Jaksul Jeungjae)


This is the largest tea producer in Korea and just recently started selling tea to International customers over the internet and apparently has now stopped. This tea is grown primarily grown on Jeju Island and is completely machine processed. Will leave the below names for reference although the links no longer work.

Green Tea:

Okro (shade Grown)


Sejac (Saejak)

Ouksujin (grade unspecified)

Balhyocha (Semi-oxidized Tea):

Seonhyang (lightly oxidized)

Woonhyang (medium oxidized)

Samdayeon (post fermented)

See these posts & comments for more information on the grading system of Korean tea (Ujeon, Saejak, Jungjak):

Categorizing Korean Green Teas: Why We Categorize

Satisfying Marshaln

See these posts for more information on the three main tea producing regions of Korea:

Three Main Tea Producing Areas In Korea: Boseong

Three Main Tea Producing Areas In Korea: Jeju Island

Three Main Tea Producing Areas In Korea: Jiri Mountain

Disambiguation of Jiri Mountain Tea

Edited on Nov 20/2012


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2009 Joytea Organic Hadong Disk Type Ddok Cha

This ddok cha is the disk type from Joytea. There is also a five pack available on their web page that is wrapped in bamboo leaves and bound with three strands of tradtional Korean paper (click here then scroll down). The production of this disk type ddok cha is consistent with the usual steps for this type as follows.

After the tea is picked it undergoes a kill green stage where the tea is hand tossed in a heated iron cauldron after it is picked. Then the tea undergoes a shaping/rolling process that should strike a nice balance between being the lighter shaping of green tea and the violent shredding of red tea-leaning much closer to green tea production of course. Proper pressure and technique here very much influence the final product. The leaves are spread out evenly over bamboo baskets and left to dry for 1-2 days in the open air where they are libel to catch the rising and setting of the sun and moon. They are then pressed into cakes. Joytea uses cloth to press them in much the same way puerh tea is pressed, as a result, the imprint of the fabric is found on the final product. They are then dried in a well ventilated room.

The dry leaf looks quite nice and is examined closely as one widdles away the longish mix of leaves that comprise of this cake. Upon closer inspection the leaves are mainly medium-largish with a slight greenish tint to them. There are also reddish, yellowish, and white outliers mixed in for good measure. This cake is stone pressed and carries with it the imprint of the fabric bag with which it was pressed. The compression is pretty tight for disk type ddok cha which can also be pressed between two large planks. It is about equivalent to a lighter stone pressed puerh. The odour of the leaf is sweet, rich, and deep. It has a sour musky green smell that is also sweet. It has faint notes of raison and pine wood in it as well- a great smelling ddok cha.

When the water has cooled just slightly in the cooling bowl it is added to the pot of dry ddok cha leaves. Out pours a bright yellow. It is light, sweet, and a very musky dingy floral that evolves into pine wood then into a very sweet finish. It has a dry forest like aftertaste and fills the mouth with a thin coat that is thick and viscous.

The second pot is prepared and consumed with great care. A juicy, thick liquid starts musky and deep and turns into welcomed strong floral sweetness. It finishes dry with deep green forest-like aftertaste. The aftertaste is deep and long.

The thickness of this tea is apparent throughout the session. In the third infusion this thick viscous soup offers deep flavours especially a more pronounced floral that trails into the aftertaste and is a bit bland. A musky floral scent lingers in the nose. After the tea is gulped down it leaves a slightly sandy and dry sensation on the lips and in the tongue. The qi of this tea hits ones mind and is strong. Things are clear, ones mind and spirit are open. It seems to flood the middle jiao but refrains from attaching it and simply mellows there.

The fourth and fifth infusions offer a light, more up-front, bland, sweet, floral profile which turns into a dry, deep forested, slightly floral, green tea aftertaste. The tea now starts to show its green tea bottom that is now exposed in the thinning complexity. Dry astringency also emerges especially in the finish.

The sixth and seventh infusions become progressively more bitter but retain the thick oily and smooth mouthfeel which is such a treat for the tactile receptors of the mouth. There is still a flash of sweet floral taste in these infusions, sometimes even an undulation of fruitier notes. The aftertaste remains bitter and musky with much depth.

The chaqi slowly radiates outward from the middle. The age of this ddok cha puts its thermal energy somewhere near neutral. On this cool summer day it feels as though it is slightly on the cooler side of the spectrum still. Ones body and mind feel extraordinarily quiet and relaxed.

The eight, ninth, and tenth infusions comprise of a light, floral sweet tea, with still some bitter, forestlike depth. The mouthfeel is still quite oily and the aftertaste is mainly just bitter and bland.

This tea can be taken for many infusions, stamina is definitely a good quality of disk type ddok cha of this age. So it is enjoyed throughout the next day like this- the infusions coming and going with the rising and setting of the sun and moon- a wonderful ending mirroring its production.


Monday, July 26, 2010

2009 Winter Dong Ding Competition Grade III Oolong On A Chilly Summer Morning

One woke with a chill this morning and as a result remained barefoot on the hardwood just enough to put warm wool socks on. A medium roasted spring oolong would be a good remedy for this summertime chill.
One finds this one-pot sample from Life In Teacup and pours the whole sample of dark roasted pellets into the large yixing pot. The smell of the medium to high roasted dry leaves is muted with some grape smells escaping the roasted vacuum. One cuddles close to the teapot as the water boils inside.

The first pot is a very simple, quiet ordeal with bland-grainy body and a slippery roasted taste. It is immediately apparent that this is not a spring but a winter oolong.
No matter, the second pot is prepared and pours a brown-yellow. It offers dry, bland, grainy notes with ghostly sour apple underpinnings that slip away before fully realizing them. The lips dry and the front of the mouth is partially stimulated as the aftertaste of a sandy roast runs across ones breath.
The third is more of that simple cereal dryness. The mouthfeel in the front also has a simple dimension to it. By the fourth infusion there isn't much left in the cup but one feels warm and ready to start the day.

The hot water is left in the fifth infusion for a long while. When one comes back to the pot it yields a thin, watery soup with a soft roasted, hollow honey taste. One sips and enjoys this last simple pot throughout the morning.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Sam Do Style Teapot by Japanese Ceramicist Tosiichi Suzuki

Tidy shape, clean form, nice pot.
There is something slightly unbalanced about the ring of flowers on the top which the stubby handle and bulbous bottom seem to partially remedy.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Sam Do Style Tea Bowl by Japanese Ceramicist Tosiichi Suzuki

There was a large art festival just down the block last weekend. One was anticipating conversation with one of the artists there, Tosiichi Suzuki. He is a ceramics professor at Yokohama College of Art and Design and specializes in 'Sam Do' (Jap. mi si ma) style. He had a few pieces on display.

This tea bowl is a very clean example of 'Sam Do' style. Although beautiful, this bowl is a bit too 'clean' with very little wabi sabi to value. Japanese potters have always had these problem when trying to recreate classic Korean styles. It has much to do with the mentality of Japanese compared to the mentality of Koreans. It is definitely a social thing and not an ability/ skill thing as there are many mind-bending potters in Japan.

Tosiichi Suzuki discussed his firing technique- 900-950 Degrees gas fired for 10 hours, oxidization firing from 1230 and stopped at 1250. The very clean, almost sterile, feel of this bowl is mainly due to the fact that it is gas fired as opposed to wood fired. Wood firing breathes so much life into the pieces.

The shape, foot, and feel of this bowl seem too perfect as they kick up the sun's rays creating a white heavenly glow.

The flowered lip is the focal point of the bowl. The small stamped flowers fade in and out of the oxidized rim, no two are the same- each one is admired.

Heavenly bowl.


Monday, July 19, 2010

2010 Kim Shin Ho's Hwagae Valley Ujeon Green Tea

This tea was given as a gift from Kim Shin Ho pasted on from Pedro of Dao Tea. Mr. Kim is one of the Korean teamasters that Pedro sources his tea from. It is of the highest grade, the earliest pick offered by Kim Shin Ho picked in scenic Hwagae Valley. Pedro says that nobody is interested in paying astronomical amounts of money for Ujeon here in North America. If you feel differently, email Pedro and he might be able to get some for you (for a price of course).

Yesterday, was the first day that broke 20 degrees Celsius. Today it is 33 degrees so to celebrate this bag of Ujeon is snipped open. As the kettle fills the room with more heat, one takes time to celebrate the dry leaf.

The small leaves are filled with salty, light, sweet, nutty, light pine. The leaves are a subtle pine menthol- the smell is very fresh.

These small leaves go through the rounds at first with barely warm water, then longer with much warmer water as the session proceeds.

The first infusion has pine notes that finish creamy and sweet with an aftertaste that is creamy and nutty, rich and smooth. The mouth feels slippery and smooth as the sipped tea glides over ones tongue quenching ones thirst. This is a very slick Ujeon.

The second infusion is the same slick creamy sweet pine but add in some very soft astringency for good measure. The saliva thickens and separates from the tongue which remains dry. This tea is very viscous in nature. The aftertaste is both creamy and salty- something interesting to linger about.

The third infusion is prepared. The sweet notes seem to mainly move into the aftertaste which develop with creamy pine notes. This infusion feels juicier than the previous. This thick tea evolves on the tongue and mouth long after it is swallowed.

The chaqi replenishes body and mind on this extremely hot day. Its affect is sedative in nature as it alerts more peripherally than directly.

With the affects of the chaqi taking hold one prepares the fourth pot. It is still creamy and full in the mouth but has a grainy grittiness that begins to evolve. The pure notes are starting to muddle slightly. The aftertaste is dry. Most of what happens in this cup happens after it is swallowed. The flavour has moved to its deep, rich aftertaste.

In the fifth infusion things begin to show signs of fading as much of the same is presented here. The graininess is more pronounced. Spicy aftertaste note pops up- something not seen in infusions before this. The aftertaste still has much to savour.

The sixth infusion the deep flavour and feel of this tea is peeled away considerably. Lighter floral notes become more obvious. The creamy sweetness of this tea is also uses this opportunity to stick out.

This tea is enjoyed up to nine infusions with even the ninth bringing out a fuzzy-creamy aftertaste but nothing much more. By then one feels refreshed on this abnormally hot day on the island.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Korean Tea Classics" Online Book Club Proposal: Discussion of Original Texts That Reflect The Historical Depth of Both Korean & Chinese Tea Culture

There is a general lack of English translated tea classics, the ones that do get translated often are done so with good intentions but are often rather crude. Even more so, is the lack of Korean tea information in English. A recently released book "Korean Tea Classics" rectifies both of these issues.

It offers both the original text of Traditional Chinese characters along side a very eloquent English translation. The English translation contains a plethora of footnotes that add depth to the translation.

The strength of this translation lies in its three translators: Brother Anthony of Taize- the English authority on Korean tea; Hong Kyeong-Hee, a Korean National with deep knowledge of Korean tea; and Steven D. Owyoung who specializes in Chinese tea history and who is currently preparing a translation of Lu Yu's Chajing the Classic of Tea.

"Korean Tea Classics" contains the translations of three works by two historic teamsters. Both of the Korean Tea Masters spent sometime studying tea culture in China and both reverence it heavily, especially Lu Yu's Chajing. Due to the many historical references of Chinese tea culture and the Chinese text that is included, this book is important not only for those who wish to gain insight into Korea tea culture but also those who also are interested in Chinese tea culture. It is a great book for both beginner and expert.

Tea books like this are few and far between and are worthy of some special attention...

So one proposes to start an "Online Tea Book Club" which will be posted on Matcha's Blog weekly. It would look at this book section by section, covering one section (one or two pages) per week- allowing much time for deep reflection. One will post a quote from each section and a discussion on that section would follow in the comments. Anyone can join in or opt out at anytime during the duration of the "book club".

Both translators of this book, Brother Anthony of Taize and Steven D. Owyoung, have agreed to stop in once and while and add some depth to the discussion. Making this a truly unique experience.

Those interested simply need to buy the book "Korean Tea Classics" ISBN: 978-89-91913-66-0 from the Seoul Selection bookshop to follow along.

Seoul Selection agreed to offer a special deal to those who wish to participate in this "Online Book Club". They will offer a 15% discount for the purchase of a package of both of their Korean tea books: "Korean Tea Classics" ISBN: 978-89-91913-66-0 & "The Korea Way Of Tea" ISBN: 978-89-91913-17-2 by Brother Anthony of Taize and Hong Kyeong-Hee. This is a great deal on two great Korean tea books for around $25 USD plus shipping- if you are getting one book shipped, why not thrown in another? One recommends the cheapest shipping method (Arimail I) as one received the books in under a week- no problems. If you are interested in this promotional discount please email Fran at and let her know that you want the Korean tea book club discount and state the shipping method you prefer and she will send you a special invoice.

Please comment if you are interested in participating just to get an idea of numbers.

One hopes to start the first "Korea Tea Classics Online Book Club" post on Mattcha's Blog in about a months time which should give those interested enough time to scrape together some change and get their orders.

See these posts on Cha Dao for a sneak peak at the depth included in the three historic tea verses covered in "Korean Tea Classics":


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

That Famous Hadong Tea Packaging

Teas from Hadong South Korea often come packaged in a generic boxes. These boxes were even featured on a commercial promoting business and tourism in Hadong which aired on CNN a few years ago.

The packaging can be used by producers in the region once an inspector from the Hadong Tea Institute inspects the tea's production and usually tries some of the tea. It is a quality control thing and ensures that someone isn't bringing in tea from a cheaper region and selling it as Hadong green tea (which in Korea would be very unlikely). It also makes sure that the people making the tea actually know what they are doing and won't put out a substandard product that would hurt the image of Hadong green teas.

This generic box indicates that this tea is not a big commercial production but rather a small batch. Selling tea in a generic Hadong green tea box has many benefits.

Firstly, it insures a certain level of quality for the consumer because it was inspected by an official from the Hadong Green Tea Institute.

Secondly, it saves the small producer the costs of designing and producing their own box which, for a small batch of green tea, would be quite costly.

Thirdly, it has some marketing appeal because it has brand recognition- in this case the brand is the actual area or "Hadong Green Tea". When customers see the generic box they know its green tea from Hadong. Hadong green tea is a part of South Korea's geographical indication system that has had much success attaching the area of Hadong to green tea (see this research on a similar affect on Boseong and green tea). Fourthly, the colour of the box indicates the grade of green tea, which can also be quite handy for the consumer.

Ujeon grade is packaged in a blue box, saejak in a camouflage green box, jungjak in a gold/yellow and brown box, and daejak in a bright (normal) green box. The red box is the generic packaging for "Bal hyo cha" (semi oxidized, yellow tea). Other than the change of colour the boxes all pretty much look the same.

It is important to note that productions with their own packaging don't follow this colour code. It is also worthy of note that most western dealers of Korean tea would probably not use this packaging because it has only "Hadong Green Tea" written in English and the rest of the characters on the box are Korean.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Joytea Introduction And A Sampling Of 2009 Joytea Organic Hadong "Balhyocha" (Yellow Tea) Disk Type Ddok Cha

Joytea was the first Korean tea company to begin selling ddok cha a few years back. Before this company started selling ddok cha, it was only available from small family and temple productions. Joytea has gained some notoriety in the last two years in Korea by promoting its traditional hand made product, by winning some tea awards at tea festivals domestically and in Japan, and by certifying its tea plantation with the highest level of organic certification available in Korea. As a result, the price of their new product has almost tripled since 2008.

All of the tea that Joytea produces comes from its plantation in Hadong 400 meters above sea level. Besides offering three grades of yellow tea and three grades of green tea, Joytea also sells coin type ddok cha, disk type ddok cha, and this interesting yellow tea disk type ddok cha. The ddok cha products will receive their own posts in the coming weeks and months.

This sample of yellow tea disk type ddok cha actually didn't come from a disk at all but came from a 100g bowl/ bell shape (click here for a picture). This tea can also be purchased in a five pack that is strung together with Korean traditional paper straw and wrapped in bamboo (click here then scroll down for a picture of this packaging).

This Yellow (Bal hyo cha, Hwang cha, semi-oxidized tea) disk type ddok cha is only classified as "ddok cha" because the final step of production involves the tea being pressed into a cake. It is truly a yellow tea pressed into a cake form. The product description on joytea's web page describes the normal production for a Korean yellow tea which involves oxidization by vigorous rubbing on a rush mat and withering until the desired level of oxidization is achieved, in this case 60% oxidization. This tea is then shaped into a cake.

This tea is a bit of a rarity because it is the only yellow tea one has ever came across that is cake pressed. Generally Korean semi-oxidized teas don't possess the strenth nor the depth acceptable for aging. All other ddok cha that one has encountered is essentially pressed green tea. So this tea is a bit unique in that respect.

The kettle shakes as water boils, one closely examines this sample. It smells of sweet raison and is composed of long, straggly, dark brown with slight red tinged leaves.

The first infusion is prepared with water that was cooled for a short time. It is full of light, watery, plumy tastes. Its mouthfeel is soft and huddles on the middle of the tongue and front of the mouth. The aftertaste is light, fruity, and dry but has a dusky finish that hits at a grittier bottom.

The second infusion is plumy also peachy at first then fades somewhat into dryness in the mouth. The mouthfeel is more at the front but feels full enough there- nice.

More water is boiled up and the third infusion is prepared. It tastes fruity but at the same time soft, gritty, grainy, and dry. The flavour of this tea is fairly stably throughout infusions. The mouthfeel is now coarse and dry.

The fourth infusion is enjoyed as light spice flavours mix with slight fading fruitiness. The mouthfeel becomes tart, dry, and a touch gritty.

This tea continues on for a few more infusions but doesn't offer any real change in its profile other than becoming more watery and flat. Strangely it offers some strange soft fermented-tea like depth in its aftertaste even as its flavours are quick to fade.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Just West of West Lake: 2010 Qian Dao Hu "Long Jing Style" Green Tea

A hefty bag of this tea was gifted by Pedro at Daotea. Over the last few weeks one has sat down with this tea on numerous occasions partly because its that time of year, partly because a green tea this fine ought to be consumed within weeks of it being opened before it looses to much of its essence, partly because it was the only tea not boxed up during ones recent move, partly because it is just good tea.

It was produced using the same production technique used for long jing by the hands of Mr. Weng Xingzou. He has small property near scenic Qian Dao Hu, Chun'an County, Zhejiang Province. His property is 893m above sea level and on it are semi-wild bushes of tea. This tea comes from the first day of the 2010 harvest season, picked on April 18th and 19th, a day after the last snowfall of the year covered the nearby peeks on April 17th.

The inside of the big zip-locked bag is coated in white hairs and fuzz that have came off the hair covered leaves. Most still remain on the small flattened buds. These small buds smell of light, sweet, mellow notes. When they enter the warmed teapot they emit a soft roasted smell.

Cool water and shortish infusion coax out pine nut and cream corn flavours. These tastes seem to come in separate waves not as a mix. The taste is frosty and creamy- light. The mouthfeel is mossy and very full right from the first sip. This tea is yummy.

The second infusion is prepared and consumed. It pours out of the pot a very light, transparent, white-green-yellow. The second infusion shares the flavour profile of the first but its mouthfeel is more involved. It is thick and mossy but turns slippery with time. There is a orchid aftertaste that takes time to ascend in the aftertaste. One savours this aftertaste as it trails off a bit.

In the third infusion a very slight bitterness is barely detected within the wonderful mouthfeel that has begun reaching toward the throat. This creamy soft tea has qi that is ultra relaxing and by the third infusion one feels almost drowsy under its effect.

The fourth is creamy, slightly sweet, and a touch more bitter.

In the fifth infusion a slight floral quality emerges once again. The chaqi now sharpens ones mind- a movement from relaxation to gentle concentration.
In the following infusions creamy corn notes are still apparent but become progressively watered down. Floral notes fade into sweet water.

Pedro from Dao Tea informs one that tea from this same property picked in the weeks that followed will be on sale at Dao Tea within the next few weeks.

Thanks for the generous gift.