Had purchased the 2009 version of this tea from a friend's shop in Korea and thought that it was alright. After scouring the house for balhyocha, one stumbled on a box of this 2010 Jukrim balhyocha that had not been opened. So it found its way into the teapot and seemed to be a bit more engaging than the 2009 version. This is not completely uncommon as small hand made productions from single estates in Korea often change quite a bit from year to year. With a new found excitement for this tea, one decided to dig around for a bit for information on Jukrim.
Jukrim's teamaster, Lim Won, claims that this balhyocha is all hand produced in Bosong from tea plants in a valley surrounded in a bamboo thicket. According to the Cha Sin Jeon these are ideal conditions for tea plants. Jukrim's tea is certified "No Agrichemicals" as denoted with the Korean blue label certification. This means that the soil, water, and tea have been tested by the Ministry of Agriculture and have found to have no pesticide residues and the soils has less than half the industry norm for chemical fertilizers. Lim Won also claims that many prominent Buddhist monks including the late Beop Jeong Sunim, the once head of the Joygae Order of Buddhism in Korea, used to enjoy his Woojeon. There is no website for Jukrim but there are a few Korean blog posts that feature Lim Won and show pictures of his tea garden and all hand production (see here and here).
So lets open the bag and see what this tea is all about...
The long gangly dry leaves are a dusty grey colour. They smell of faint pungent pine wood and beach sand. The pre-warmed pot is stuffed half full of these leaves.
The first infusion is prepared and a sweet, juicy brown sugar and deeper honey sweetness arrives with spicy prominent persimmon, cinnamon, and baked apple tastes. This tea is juicy and flavourful. The mouthfeel is very light and thinly coats the mouth. The aftertaste is sweet and trails off with these tastes.
The second infusion presents with sweet, juicy cinnamon-persimmon tastes with a slightly cool pine wood finish in the mouth. There are also the much more obvious spicy prominent persimmon, cinnamon, and baked apple tastes encountered in the first infusion. The mouthfeel has a very slight, thin dryness which develops on the lips, tongue, and cheeks. The qi feels warm and climbs up to the head, flushing the cheeks.
The third infusion is the same arrangement of tastes with more cool, dry wood infused into the delicious taste profile. The throat feel is also noticed here as it has rounded out with a slight dryness in the mouth and tingle in the upper throat.
The fourth infusion is much the same with a notable sweet, fruity aftertaste and qi that is very mild, very relaxing on the mind, and slightly warming on the abdomen.
The fifth infusion has very sweet and spicy persimmon and cinnamon notes. The spiciness is such that you can feel a warm tingle in the nose. This is apparent throughout the infusions. It is nicely balanced with a slight woody, cool aftertaste. The mouthfeel holds and even becomes more round and full here. It drys the tongue just slightly resulting in a cool tingling sensation.
The sixth and seventh infusions are watery, very subtle versions of previous tastes. There is an inaudible tangy wood taste that is barely detected under these watery and sweet notes. There is a cool, almost salty, aftertaste now.