Sunday, November 20, 2011
2011 Ssang Kye Jungjak Semi Wild Hadong Green Tea
Although this tea was brought in directly from Korea, it also is available from North American retailer Shan Shui Teas. Shan Shui Teas brings in some Sang Kye (Ssanggyae) and Goryeo (Koryeo) green tea in the original packaging, for a reasonable markup.
Sang Kye, like other Korean tea producers, also specializes in a variety of wild crafted herbal teas as well. Korean's tea history has a strong relationship with herbal teas. During the Choson (Joseon) Dynasty the popularity of herbal teas surpassed that of green tea, this was in part to Choson's Confucian government distancing themselves from the Buddhist practice of drinking green tea. Even in traditional Korean tea shops today, most people actually still order more herb teas than green tea.
Today we will be having a closer look at Sang Kye's jungjak grade green tea a later picking than the previously posted saejak grade.
After shedding the dense layers of packaging, the dry leaves reveal a greyish-silver green leaves which smell of wheaty-grains and dry wood. They carry a very faint foresty base and vary in size from small to large dry leaves.
The first infusion is prepared on this cool autumn day and delivers dry bark woody light grain initial taste. It turns to a deep forested base then returns with just a bit of tangy berry sweetness that was not afforded in the initial taste. The aftertaste is left in the mouth is a touch grainy and woody with a faint traveling chalky, tangy, berry sweetness. The mouthfeel offers a full chalky coating in the mouth, tongue, and throat in a painting of slight dryness.
The second infusion presents a bit different with more of a deep dry wood and subtle anise-licorice start which is long and stretches into a dry wood and almost (but not quite) sweet forest base. There is still that tangy berry sweetness that turns up in the aftertaste along with dry woody-forest tastes.
The third presents very similar as the second infusion, with the sweeter more subtler notes being more suppressed by dry robust, woody forest notes. The initial taste has strawberry tastes mixed with the soft anise-licorice. These subtle tastes linger for minutes under the dominant dry wood aftertaste among the dry-sticky mouthfeel.
The fourth infusion starts off with dry, almost metallic, wood bark tastes that are in some ways almost floral. This taste is stretched through the taste profile. The subtle nuances that were found in the first infusions are nowhere to be found only to reappear minutes later very faintly in the aftertaste. This aftertaste is primarily dominated by foresty tastes.
The qi of this tea is uplifting absent in the mid and lower body and somewhat more active in the upper body.
The fifth has less of that metallic-wood inital taste but is otherwise much the same as the fouth infusion. It seems to present creamier forest notes than the forest notes presented before. This very slight creamy taste makes the transition to the aftertaste much more smooth in the mouth.
In the sixth infusion more subtle anise sweetness is squeezed out under a bit longer infusions. Overall this tea offers profoundly dry-wood base taste with subtleties that float underneath which make the rather plain taste somewhat interesting.
The seventh and eighth infusions are about as far as this tea goes. Here the woody, dry, and sometimes cereal taste doesn't have much left but a thick dry mouthfeel and maybe a quick glimpse of anise.
As the leaves fall outside
Under cool autumn winds
One enjoys this pot of tea.