Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 ZeDa Tea Wild Jiri Mountain Korean Yellow Tea

This tea comes from the same small family farm, is made in the same style, and uses the same tea bushes, as the 2011 ZeDa hwang cha. Just like the 2011 balhyocha, it is all hand picked and produced exclusively by the Hong's from tea plants which surround their estate. Every year only 10 KG of this tea is put to market and only one picking of tea is done each year from these tea plants.

This tea is distributed in 320g traditional Hanji bags. Hanji, or traditional handmade Korean paper, has always played a part in Korean tea culture. Historically, it was often used to wrap or store tea. Today it is only infrequently seen in wrapping disk shape ddok cha, and exported Hei cha from China which includes the wrapping of famous teas from Hunan and the binding of tongs of puerh. Hanji is made of all natural substances and has good balance of breatheability and light control which makes it ideal to store and age naturally fermented teas. Often this paper is used by calligraphers for its natural look and feel. So it is appropriate that this very natural and traditionally produced tea is wrapped in Hanji bags.

The hanji bag is marked with a the family seal in red and the date which states that this tea was picked on April 23, 2012 in black coligraphy ink. This date places the tea as a very early saejak grade though in cases where only one tea is picked per season rarely do they spend too much time fussing about grading. A limited quantity of this tea is available for purchase from Sam of Good Green Tea in 20g standard packaging.

So let's untie the hanji bag, and prepare some of this unique Korean tea...

The wiry dry leaves have a very subtle mutted odour of woods and very faint butter which is apparent upon untying the bag. These wiry leaves are stuffed into the warmed teapot and emit an enhansed odour.

The first infusion prepared with these leaves give a soft, juicy-sweet, slighly fruity initial taste. There is a subtle spicy finish. A very watery mouthfeel appears in the mouth that goes into the mid throat and creates space with a soft dryness.

The second infusion is soft, woody, and juicy over a simple fruit base. It has a slightly cardmmon-like subtle spiciness in the aftertaste with slight fruit edges. It cools the throat upon inhalation. The qi warms the stomach nicely and clams the mind.

In the third very clean, vibrant, juicy, distinct peach-nectarine-apple flavour presents itself. The taste has a buttery edge as it slowly slides into the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is especially juicy and resides deep in the throat where a glob of saliva builds up. There is a slight dry finish in the front of the mouth. The subtle balance between the throat and mouth, front and back is amusing.

The fourth infusion is much the same as above with a distinct buttery-creamy-egg-banana fruit taste resembing a rich banana milk shake. The fifth and sixth infusions are much the same with little change in this simple tea. The mouthfeel becomes more sticky now and the taste remains stable.

The seventh infusion seems more faded with some new forest notes along with distinct fruitty banana in this simple broth. The aftertaste of these notes remain in the throat.

The eighth infusion presents woody, very ghostly notes of peach with a subtle spicy finish. The mouthfeel has lost most of its juicy edge and is now just thin, soft, and dry in the mouth. The banana taste is faint on the breath.

In the ninth, under longer infusion time and slightly hotter water, the fruit tastes become more distinct once again as very subtle wood tastes are noticed undernieth.

The tenth and eleventh infusions are still quite juicy but not as fruity. It carries more of an empty fruit taste with faint wood background. There is a note of woody, barely citrus fruit aftertaste. There is very soft chalky edges on the lips.

Overnight infusions push more fruit out of these leaves.



Anonymous said...


Many thanks for describing the Hanji wrapping of the tea, a tradition that predated the Tang dynasty and the Book of Tea by Lu Yu.

In 2006, the Korean film Hyeol-ui nu (Blood Rain) told of the murder mystery which took place on a island famed for its production of fine paper. Some of the movie action described elements - plants, water, and sun - critical to the island paper mill and and its production of tribute quality hanji.


Matt said...


The Book of Tea may have even been copied on Hanji paper in Korea. The look and feel of Hanji nicely eminates the natural feel of Korean tea but is rarely used these days. The texture is like no other.

Will have to check out that movie, thanks for the recommendation.


Centranthus said...


Whenever I think of Hanji, the mind automatically goes to fine silk, as a hanji is also a Japanese scarf. It seems that paper hanji is reserved for "special" things. Is there a correlation, do you think? Special things... fine silk... Jess has finally blown a gasket? *laughs*


Matt said...


Yes, there is also THAT hanji as well, thanks for making us aware of this important differentiation.

Hanji used to be used for more common things such as household items and even tobacco but now it is generally used for special things due to the time, labour, and cost of production compared to the inexpensive modern paper production that often comes from China. Hanji carries a certain mindfulness about it, the fact that it wasn't just punched out of a factory. This too, is a quality of Korean tea culture.

It also reminds one of a saying in Korea, "Silk lasts for 500 years but Hanji paper lasts for 1000 years". This also speaks of the longevity of something seemingly more fragile and precious- such is a nicely aged tea.

Thanks for mentioning the comparison to silk.


Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...


I am curious as to how you brewed this tea, namely what was your leaf to water ratio.

I may have been a little more light handed than usual due to only having 20 grams, but my first experience with this tea was not that positive. I found it far to light and delicate.

While that may be solved by upping the leaf to water ratio next time, I want to check against what you did just to make sure it wasn't that my taste buds refused to work that day.

After all 20grams is not a lot of room for experimentation to make sure you get it right!

Matt said...

Adam Yusko,

This balhyocha is an ujeon grade and is minimally processed, not heavy oxidized or roasted like some other balhyocha. The minimal processing is likely done to highlight the subtle qualities of the lighter, earlier picked, smaller leaf. As a result this tea is very light.

It is a bit of a coincidence that one also drank this same tea this morning! Whenever steeping balhyocha I always add enough dry leaf so that when the leaf expands in the pot it is over 3/4 full. This way you should be able to push a good 7 infusions out of this tea and enjoy the best of its flavour and qi.