Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Mystery Korean Foil Bag Tea #1

With this year's shipment of Korean tea came a few surprises. Two of these surprises were 80-100g unmarked, unopened foil bags each with a clip on one end. These bags are a common sight in Korea and are the standard packaging for any tea- really, it could be anything.

One is in a mood for some Korean green tea this afternoon, a need to be refreshed and revitalized on this sunny summer day, so let's take a chance on one of these foil bags. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...

One scoops the boiling water from the tang gwan into the cooling pot, picks up the scissors, and snips open the bag...

The odour that emits from these medium dusty black-dark-brown leaves are unreal. Deep, very rich chocolately notes fill the air. The dark chocolate smell turns creamy and milky and are overwhelmingly coco with a very faint dusty odour also barely noted. Soon one is convinced that some Korean yellow tea (Balhyocha) is more appropriate than green- why resist destiny?

These leaves are placed in a warm pot and water is poured from the cooling bowl.

The first infusion pours a very crisp, clear yellow broth- extraordinarily clear and vibrant for balhyocha. The watery soup has distinct notes of coco that carry on into the long aftertaste. The mouthfeel is watery, smooth, and refreshing. It turns nutty on the breath.

The second infusion delivers a clear refreshing taste of milky coco. Strong nutty notes immerse themselves in this coco taste. The aftertaste is long nutty coco. This balhyocha is the extremely refreshing type- perfect on this summer day.

The third infusion is smooth and watery, now with the nutty taste delivering in the initial flavour burst encroaching coco which was once the more dominant coco notes. The mouthfeel is soft and pools in the back and mid throat. The qi of this tea is very renewing. The mind becomes tranquil, the body light and supple. This tea has very nice qi- no doubt a wild/ semi-wild Jirsan area balhyocha.

The fourth and fifth infusion sees woody tastes emerging in the initial flavour with distinctly nutty and chocolate notes being pushed more to the later taste profile and aftertaste. The mouthfeel is picking up strength with each infusion supplying a nice light coat for the mid throat and back of the mouth.

The sixth and seventh infusions become more juicy, very juicy, with more wood notes also noticed. By the seventh infusion the coco notes have almost disappeared. The aftertaste is sweet and nutty.

The eighth infusion is thick and malty with honey notes bringing strong apricot-pear taste to this tea. The aftertaste slowly transitions from these tastes to one that is nutty and chocolaty. The mouthfeel is still soft and round. This tea has stamina and could have probably been pushed further so one pours boiling water over it for one more 24hrs steeping.

(The overnight steeping was vibrant with a nice, rich, velvety, pear- apple fruit taste. This tea has great stamina- likely a sign of older growth.)


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