Sunday, February 12, 2012

2011 Hankook "Teuksun" Saejak Korean Green Tea

This saejak grade tea comes courtesy of Sam of Good Green Tea. In chatting, Sam had mentioned that he recommends Hankook tea's to those people who have weaker stomachs but who still wish to enjoy Korean green tea. So what makes this green tea better on your stomach than most other Korean tea? Hankook's tea is steamed in the kill green stage instead of the traditional pan frying. Steaming causes biochemical changes which lead to a green tea that is much easier on the stomach. One has been taking advantage of this over the last week or so by squeezing in some tea sessions late in the afternoon on an empty stomach.

Today the azaleas in front of the house are just starting to bloom a healthy vibrant pink- this feels right. The recent bloom of flowers is starting to feel more natural. Also it feels more natural to choose this saejak to drink today.

In examining the dry leaf we are greeted with deep and fresh green forest notes. The deep notes are like the leaves of deciduous forests while the fresh notes are like freshly cut grass. There is a faint roasted barley smell in the distance.

The first infusion is prepared and a very light, sweet, watery, soft, hardly roasted, grainy taste is noticed. There are soft suggestions of fruit that never really develop- an almost ghostly blueberry taste is just in the distance. The soft mellow sweetness lingers into the aftertaste without too much fuss but delivers a soft creamy floral sweetness. The mouthfeel is soft and a bit chalky.

The second infusion presents a light, smooth, somewhat simple, creamy initial lime taste which meets a deep forest taste. These flavours brush against a blandish-dry-tree-bark taste before it transitions to wood in the mouth. The wood moves into a distinct sweetness before it finishes with distinct sweet fruit. The sweetness mixes with the light chalky mouthfeel and is accentuated. This transition of taste is slow, long, and is therefore easy to observe. A creamy somewhat sweet floral taste is left in the mouth. A melon taste develops on the breath minutes later.

The third infusion delivers an initial taste of creamy, somewhat sweet, start which is flanked by simple woody-grain notes. These notes fade slowly and get more woody as the cereal notes disappear then traverse slowly to a simple sweetness. Like in the second infusion these tastes are somewhat simple and transition slowly and clearly. Faint fruits try to develop but don't quite. The mouthfeel is light and a bit chalky. A soft sweetness clings to the somewhat sticky mouthfeel most noted on the sides of the mouth. This taste stays for a long time afterwards.

In the fourth, barely sweet-creamy notes are now shared with an increasingly dry-wood-forest taste which present first. They transition to a fresher-lime-sweet edge which shows itself before disappearing as the soft, faint, sweet aftertaste. A soft but distinct sugary-sweetness coats the thin chalky mouthfeel. There is a slight fruity berry edge here.

The fifth is even stronger on the dry-wood-bark initial taste. The transition to a sweet, but still distinctly woody, taste is simple and holds this line into the aftertaste. The woody notes gradually drop off and interesting faint floral notes arrive in the sweetness revealing themselves minutes later on the breath. The qi of this tea is quite mild with not much going on.

The sixth infusion is dry, woody, and bland- this tea has little but a slightly sugary sweetness. A very light spicy aftertaste is enjoyed which turns to floral and lingers even minutes later.

This tea is also available directly from Hankook Tea in 100g size.



Ho Go said...

Matt, the comment about steamed teas being better for the stomach than roasted teas runs contrary to my own experience and many others. The only teas that I have ever had a reaction to are Japanese sencha and matcha particularly when taken on an empty stomach. I find pan fried and roasted teas easy to ingest. This is the 1st time I've ever heard this idea expressed. Of course, there may be some who have the opposite experience but I think if you do some homework looking through the post of let's say, the majority of reactions are from steamed teas, Japanese in particular.

Matt said...


It is true that no green tea is really benifical to the digestive system because green tea has a cool thermal energy and the digestive system loves warmth. Theoretically, roasted green tea should have a slightly warmer (but still cool) thermal energy. However, in ones experience, roasted teas (at least in the traditional way Korean green tea is made) are harsher on the stomach.

Perhaps, those people who complain of stomach pains due to Japanese steamed green teas are not comparing them to Korean roasted teas and are simply susceptible to all green tea. Of course everyone is different?

We must also look at how and when these green teas are served in traditional Japanese and Korean cultures to give us clues about how and when to drink them. In Korea never has one received Korean (rosted kill green production) green tea with or after a meal however if the meal was big and greasy matcha is often served. Usually roasted barley tea is sereved in most resturants where as tea people in Korea usually serve up balhyocha or aged puerh.

In Japan green tea is often served with a meal. This is something to think about?

Thanks for your personal experience and thoughts and for opening the conversation.


GoodGreenTea said...

I know there is some controversy about stomach pain of green tea. People have different opinion based on their perception and experience.

One of ingredients in green tea is Ascorbic acid which is vitamin C and the cause of stomach pain. The amount ingredients in green tea leaf can be affected by so many things; Amount of sunlight, type of soil, temperature, etc. Therefore Chinese, Korean, and Japanese green tea have their own unique and distinctive taste.

Since the earlier flush of green tea contains more Ascorbic acid than the later flush, people can complain of stomach pain more from steamed woojeon than from roasted jungjak.

However, steaming process lose more vitamin C than pan-fried process with using the same green tea leaves. Therefore vitamin C and other ingredients will remain in pan-fried green tea.

I know we all love green tea....
But green tea in general is not good if you drink on an empty stomach. :)
So drink green tea with DaKwa (tea snack)!!!!


Matt said...


Thanks for backing ones usual vague scientific reference (common criticism of MattCha's Blog):

"Steaming causes biochemical changes which lead to a green tea that is much easier on the stomach."

with some specific science.



Ho Go said...

Sorry, I'm not swallowing it! :-)

Matt said...


Tea science this, tea theory that, everyone is different.



Mina Park said...

Hankook Tea's teas are initially steamed for the "kill green". Then, it is pan-fired afterwards.

Matt said...

Mina Park,

Thanks again for this clearification.

That explains the "faint roasted barley smell" of the dry leaves and the overall Korean tea feel of this tea.

Thanks again Mina,