This sample was another that came from Pedro. With all the talk about a possible decrease quality in Hadong's ujeon grade, one hoped to get a better feel for things with this tea on this summery early September day.
The dry leaves are small and delicate and smell sugary and sweet with the subtle lingering scent of fragrant wild flowers in a very light, sweet, forested base. The tea placed in a warm pot and more green-foresty odours evolve.
The first infusion is watery, juicy, with subtle greeny-forest tastes which turn a slightly woody-bark taste. It is somewhat sweet in the aftertaste with forested hues. The mouthfeel turns a touch pasty.
The second infusion contains a soupy lime, barely sweet, forest green initial taste which turns to wood bark. Hints of tangy notes come out in the aftertaste as well as a soft sweetness that disappears as quickly and unnoticeably as it comes. The mouthfeel is thicker and chalky and coat the mouth in this heavier feel. The qi is contemplative and is felt soothing the temples on each side of the head.
The third and fourth infusions have the same inital taste but this time distant chalky-florals are found in the distance. These florals linger for a bit under a wood bark base flavour. This tea has an overall soupy-heaviness to it that isn't common in ujeon grade, which is usually light and ethereal. The mouthfeel is mainly in the mouth, not venturing into the throat.
The fifth starts very light, somewhat sugary sweet, before drifting to wood-bark-forest taste and finishing somewhat sugary sweet. It continues as dry bark wood in the mouth. The mouthfeel is dry now especially in the front of the mouth and tongue.
The sixth pot has indications of the bland tasting woody-bark profile of this tea taking over. There is some barely sweet finish with hiding florals surfacing later in the aftertaste. While the seventh is mainly just wood-bark-dry notes with a dry monotone mouthfeel.
For myself, the really outstanding contribution from Kim Jong Yeol this year is his 'Sunrise' Balhyocha. Made from sejak leaves and both oxidized and fermented, really give one something special in the cup. I enjoyed this tea so much at the Hadong Tea Festival that I ordered again and which arrived earlier this week.
Along with the Balhyocha, their sejak arrived which they were sold out of when I visited in May. Both the ujeon and sejak teas this year, I'm sorry to say, fall far short of my expectations. Your description of the ujeon quietly echoes a tepid response. Korean green teas this year are not very exciting. But, ah, the Balhyochas. There is something to savor!
I feel your enthusiasm. I ordered KJY's balhyocha last year, still have enough for one more session, such an amazing tea. I'm really looking forward to ordering his tea again.
Could you maybe recommend me some books about korean tea culture for an essay? Found a few from amazon, but some of them were out of stock. If you know any good works, maybe you could give me your email address and I'll get back to you.
"Both the ujeon and sejak teas this year, I'm sorry to say, fall far short of my expectations. Your description of the ujeon quietly echoes a tepid response."
So far one's experience with these teas late in the season also confirm this. But it is impossible to state so definitively because these delicate samples have been consumed so late in the season and are often re-packaged, exposing the tea leaves to air in the exchange. One still suspects that quality was down slightly with some producers.
"the really outstanding contribution from Kim Jong Yeol this year is his 'Sunrise' Balhyocha."
Have a 15g sample of that tea but have yet to try it. Look forward to it- Pedro and you have only great things to say about it.
Try the following books:
@HoGo - Thanks for supporting KJY this year, at least with Saebyok. In North America, we may call an oojeon cup "tepid" vs. last year's... for a micro-famer, it means a tough harvest, hard work and likely economic hardship. And still, there is beauty in the uniqueness of each harvest. Supporting these guys today means that they can continue their labor (vs. selling the land to bigger companies) and provide jewels like this years saebyok and last years oojeon for times to come.
For tea that keeps "quality" year after year, Lipton is the option.
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