Friday, January 6, 2012

Experimenting With Peasant Teas

This tea comes care of Pedro of Dao Tea.  It was sent to him by Kim Jeong Yeol of Korean tea producer Butea and was never intended to be for sale to the public.  It is tea picked from his organic gardens in Hwagae Valley during the month of June, 2011.  Kim Jeong Yeol, in the spirit of Korean ancestors, tried some experimental techniques to try to get use out of his summer growth.

He chose to produce some variations of chung cha which translates to "oolong" in Korean.  Ones experience with these types of teas they are a very crude, simple, almost puerh-green tea like.  This tea is just that.  As mentioned in the intro to Korean peasant teas, its production consists of cauldron roasted kill green, hand-rolling, wither, cauldron roasted kill green, hand roll, sun drying.  He experimented with loose and compressed ddok cha versions of this tea.  In the end he wasn't completely satisfied with either of these experiments.

Below are some notes on my session with the loose chung cha.

Dry leaves are very very long and sweet mix of multi-shade green leaves with stems.  These leaves have a monotone fruit cherry-jam scent with very little forest base holding it together.

The first infusion pours a vibrant yellow.  The taste is very watery with an empty initial taste.  The aftertaste contains ghostly tastes of sour and sweet cherries which disappear into a very  faint flat wood taste.  The taste is distant and mellow.  The mouthfeel is very weak.

One adds more dry leaves into the pot and prepares the next infusion with boiling water that rests just a minute or two in the cooling bowl.  This second infusion has the initial taste of vibrant spicy hollow water turning slightly dry in the mouth.  These tastes disappear into a very simple spicy apple-plum tone.  The mouthfeel presents in the front of the mouth with a watery, grainy, slightly dry feeling.

The third has an initial taste of spicy-dirt-wood-bark taste is empty feeling with no layered base to support it, it just lingers as a simple, single note in the mouth.  A ghostly simple cherry aftertaste appears.  This tea is monotone and very simple but not tasteless.

The fourth infusion is less spicy now, it comes with a smooth sweet cherry initial taste with a base flavour emerging as very slight dry-wood-bark taste.  A simple, slightly dry and softly course mouthfeel supports these sweet tastes.  The qi is felt in the temples and has a bit of a heavy feeling on the body.

The fifth and sixth infusions present a soft, creamy, barely sweet, floral taste that ends with a soft spicy-floral sweet aftertaste.  These tastes don't seem to be anchored by a base but are simple and enjoyable.  A very faint, flat, sweet fruit taste is left in the mouth.

The seventh and eighth infusions contain simple, bland, but distinctly honey notes.

See here for a post introducing The Tradition of Korean Peasant Teas.



Centranthus said...

Dao is where I had purchased that Jungjak from. Pedro was very helpful. In fact, I'm expecting another order shortly from them. Thanks for the post - the tea looks and sounds gorgeous!

Matt said...


Hahaha... what a coincidence.

The presentation of this tea is gorgeous but the taste is quite modest.


Green Stone said...

Interesting, I've never heard of these teas. Thank you for sharing this!


Matt said...


This is a rarely discussed "folk" aspect of Korean tea culture that even most Koreans tea people have never heard of. One of the reasons is because this very modest, simple type of tea is rarely sold and is not associated with the marketing push from producers, farmers, and vendors trying to make some profit.