This Korean balhyocha is a unique one. It's name "Gaya Cha" is in reference to the one of the legends of how tea first arrived in Korea. As the story goes, a princess from India brought a tea plant that she had acquired in Southern China and offered it to the King of the Gaya Kingdom (for the other possible ways tea made its way to Korea see here, here, and here). This yellow tea from Woonsang underwent fermentation for 2-3 years before release and is a unique spin on the more typical Korean balhyocha out there.
These are not your typical balhyocha leaves. They have deep syrupy-molasses notes that are distinct but thin and light with vibrantly fruity sweet notes of melons, peach, raspberries, and papayas on the high end. These leaves are unique looking and are not rolled at all. They are packed into about 2/3 of the small pot.
The first infusion is prepared with boiling water that spends only a very short time in the cooling pot before plunging over these beautiful leaves. A simple, sweet, apple-apricot taste fills the mouth. A very cereal, rice, and hay aftertaste greets them. There is a very nice wood sap-syrup taste underneath it all. A simple wood bark taste is all that is left on the breath. The mouthfeel is simple, watery, and slightly grainy in the front of the mouth.
The second infusion presents with a juicy apricot-apple-orange, barely spicy, taste. It slowly meets up with a slightly dry-wood-bark, a slippery-sappy woody taste. These flavours stretch out over the profile. The mouthfeel is both watery and grainy and coats the mouth and upper throat. The qi has already made the body light, it feels cozy, warm, and comforted.
The third infusion is of the same delicious fruity tastes but with the wood-bark elements encroaching on the initial taste right next to the fresh, sweet, watery, vibrant fruit. This tea is very flavourful but simple and refreshing without a deep quality to it. It strikes a nice balance between vibrant fruits and woody bark over a watery base which makes this simple balance easy to enjoy.
In the fourth and fifth infusions the dry-bark-wood notes are slightly more dominant than the fruitier notes both in the initial flavour and throughout the profile. The fruity notes develop more of a malted faint molasses quality to them here. The mouthfeel holds its own.
The sixth and seventh infusions are more juicy tasting but lack the vibrancy found in the first infusions. The aftertaste is dominated by dry wood bark.
Can you elaborate please?
"Semi wild" Korean tea usually means three things:
1- it is from an ancient cultivar of tea bush from Handong that used to be wild.
2- it grows with no pesticides and herbicides
3- it is planted but then is basically just left to grow wild, only cut back when necessary for easy picking
Think there will be a post on this topic soon.
Looks worth to try. Thanks for the review. Do you think that leaves were sun - shadow, naturally dried?
Ju at CoreaColor says that this unique production was developed by Woonsang years ago. By the looks of things you would think that these jungjak leaves are sun-dried or at least ondol (heated floor) dried.
Had received a 2009 Balhyocha sampler from Dao with my order of several other things. I'm excited, because I have yet to experience Korean yellow tea. I'm even more excited upon reading this review.
Think you will be even more excited after reading this:
I'm going to try this tea and I'm having a look around CoreaColor's other teas-any of them particularly worth trying, perhaps?
Excellent post! I had considered this tea some time back when I was first pointed to Coreacolor through an older post of yours. I plan to now go back and finally order this tea.
Of a similar note; at one of the local Korean markets here I noted a sizable bag of Korean green tea (the only Korean green they had) and the leaf was similar to this Gaya Cha in that they were also not rolled or shaped in any manner. (I had planned to buy it until I realized I had left the house without my wallet.) Have you ever come across a similar tea?
If one was placing an order and had no more green tea in the house would probably pick up some of the Jukro Jungjak. It is a deeper tea best fit for drinking in the Winter.
Thanks for all those kind words.
Yeah one has had a boseong organic tea that has a similar leaf. Its was a cheap but good organically certified Korean tea that was of a similar shape. This boseong tea was all machine picked and produced and packaged in a large bag. The packaging has since changed in the past year or so.
Thank you! I had been eyeing that particular tea but as I'm still very much a beginner when it comes to Korea's teas I was unsure what would be a good buy. I appreciate the review, still in the process of reading all your posts but like to start from the beginning so haven't yet begun on 2011 =)
Matt, I mentioned this post on my page. Please let me know if this is acceptable - I will edit in accordance. =)
Its your blog, do what you wish but please make sure to enjoy tea.
Very interesting leaves. I haven't seen that contrast of colours in any balhyocha I've tried. It reminds me a bit of Jinggu moon-dried tea. Perhaps those differences in oxidization explain some of the very unique notes you tasted?
I'd love to learn more about the process for making this tea.
Thanks for sharing!
This tea has more of a deeper white tea-ish feel.
Agreed, it would be interesting to know the details of the production.
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