Arthur Park of Morning Crane Tea has been the driving force behind the growth and popularity of Dong Cheon tea in North America. It is becuse of his efforts that there are now many vendors of Dong Cheon tea. He has offered a quick background on Dong Cheon which is worth a good read. The following is a short take on Dong Cheon.
Dong Cheon is a tea cooperative of 88 tea farmers which includes only tea farms located in the Hwagae Valley tea producing area. All participating farms adhere to a strict compliance of no chemical fertalizers or pesticides. All of the tea is also all hand picked and is minimally cared for. The tea plants are of the variety that was originally planted on Jiri Mountain by Kim Daeryoem in 828 A.D.
The production of Dong Cheon tea is closely monotored by tea master, Kim Jong Gyun, where he maintains high quality standards. The production is done by machine, something that is quite uncommon in Hadong. Machine processing is standard to create a quality uniform product from many different tea farms. All tea coops in Korea from Boseong to Jeju use machine processing to maintain tea uniformity. Tea coops are the norm in Boseong and Jeju but, to ones knowledge, Dong Cheon is the only tea coop in the Hadong tea producing area. The quality is such that one initially thought it was hand produced.
The method of production of Dong Cheon green tea is also not the norm in Hadong. Dong Cheon uses the jung cha method of green tea production. It requires a step where the fresh tea leaves undergo a plunge into boiling water before being pan fired. Aurthor Park promises a in depth post on the farmers of Dong Cheon soon so keep an eye on his blog for more detail. Until then let's look at one of Dong Cheon's green teas from 2011- the jungjak grade gifted by Arthur Park a few months back.
The dry leaves are dull, woody, and muted with faint forest odours. These medium green curled leaves have a light, muted lingering roasted grain smell.
The first infusion is prepared and it pours a pale yellow. Sweet, light Captain Crunch like flavours, the smell of sweet corn cereal, predominates. The taste is monotone and simple but enjoyable. The mouthfeel is very thin.
The second infusion is prepared and more concrete corn tastes now present themselves along with simple wood undertones- less sweetness now. There are almost chocolate-cherry notes that linger far in the distance. The mouthfeel starts to coat the mouth in a simple dryness.
In the third infusion a simple dry wood initial taste starts to dominate the corn-sweetness which is now just faintly residing underneath. The aftertaste is a muted continuation with very faint lingering sweet corn tastes that are barely detectable. The tea coats the mouth in a thin grainy dryness not quite making it to the throat. The chaqi now begins to pull on the stomach a bit and warm the face and head. This sensation then travels down the the body lightly warming it. Minutes later a rubbery dry bland taste is left in the mouth.
The fourth infusion gives us dry, woody, cereal tastes with just the slightest flash of sweet corn in the aftertaste. The dry, woody, cereal taste holds its own throughout the taste profile that corn-barley sweetness is left on the breath.
The fifth infusion is pretty much just dry wood with a slight cereal sweetness which is almost depleted. A sweetness can be detected almost like a faint sugar on the teeth and on the breath.