Friday, May 31, 2013

2013 Cho Tae Yeon (Jukro) Saejak Semi-Wild Certified Organic Hwagae Valley Green Tea

One has been drinking this tea for many years so in many ways Jukro's Saejak acts as a measurement tool. It gives an idea as to how the latest Korean green tea harvest is. Jukro is one of Korea's oldest and most reputable brands of green tea. Unlike every other producer of Korean tea, Jukro never sells its tea in bulk as to ensure freshness and consistency in every box of tea. This tea is available from Sam of Good Green Tea and arrived in a package last week.

Something that is new on the 2013 boxes are the USDA, JAS, and EU certified organic marks and a link to an English site that might make it easier for international orders.

The dry leaves deliver a cool menthol-forest odour with a crisp sweetness underneath.

The first pot is smooth and soft with creamy tastes that have a foresty-barely-woody sweetness. The mouthfeel is full and sensations reach the mid throat coating it in a soft, sticky sensation with even a little saliva generated pooling in the cheeks. A very slight floral odour is present in the aftertaste.

The second infusion is very light with sweet floral tastes coming first followed by foresty-barely-woody aftertastes. These tastes develop a buttery-sugary note which breaks and trails into distant slightly creamy floral notes. The foresty base supports and underlies these sweet, light flavours. The taste is clean and pure. The qi is very very tranquil, sensory information is more vivid, and the mind calm and content. Even minutes later there is a lingery soft-cloudy creamy almost floral sweetness. Mouthfeel and throatfeel are complete with every bit of space coated with a soft, slightly sticky coating.

The third infusion has an initial taste of foresty-woodiness mixed with some barely muted sweet notes. The sweet tastes crest in the mouth and become creamy but still share even space with a pine-wood-foresty taste. The mouthfeel now develops a slight coarser edge. Minutes later a sweet high note skirts over the still present pine forest taste.

The fourth infusion delivers a watery-woody-foresty-sweet-floral initial taste- the flavours have merged together now and are harder to initial separate them. A woody-pine taste lingers while a sweet creamy note skates off into the distance. The mouthfeel still has a slight coarser edge.

The fifth infusion starts with a muddled-foresty-sweet taste now. A distinct sweet-almost-strawberry, barely creamy taste develops then fades. The mouth- and throatfeel are now a touch rubbery, softly sticky, and slightly dry. A tone of distant sweet florals are found on the breath minutes later.

The sixth infusion a watery, foresty, sweet taste much the same as the fifth. It carries a drier, almost scratchy mouthfeel now which signals the end of this tea.

Monday, May 27, 2013

First 2013 Korean Teas Are Here!!!

The first Korean teas to arrive in North America come from no other than Sam of Good Green Tea. Until this year, most living in America had to wait until early June to have their pick of the fresh harvest. Last week Sam started offering the famous Jukro Saejak and his small batch sourced ZeDa Saejak for sale on his webpage. He is expecting a shipment of teas from SangKye and Hankook within the next week.

A few weeks ago Gabriel of Jiri Mountain Tea Company was the first English website to offer 2013 Korean tea. At that time he had offered a ujeon and a personally produced wild Jiri Mountain "rock tea". He has since added a saejak picked and traditionally produced by Park Yeong-Ok and Seo Gyeong-Saeng.

Expect posts on some of these teas sometime this week.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

2013 Dooteriah Estate FTGFOP 1CH First Flush Darjeeling Tea

Dooteriah Estate is located in the Darjeeling East producing area. For one reason or another this tea is not available for purchase on Lochan Tea's web page although they are the ones who gifted this sample.

The dry leaves smell of rich creamy mineral almost milky chocolate notes. This odour is mixed with smooth rolling subtly smooth floral high notes that are actually much more like more subdued medium notes in the mix.

The first pot reveals a smooth fruity taste with coco notes as low notes and distinct fruity banana and apricot fruity notes as higher notes. These tastes start to immediately turn a touch brackish in the mouth. The taste is a touch thin and watery but follow up with a crisp coco note which further thins into a muddled tropical fruity taste. The mouthfeel is a touch thin and is chalky in the front of the mouth and tongue.

The second pot reveals more brackish, muddled fruit in slightly bitter, slightly watery coco taste. The mouthfeel reaches into the upper throat, opening it. It is chalky and slightly dry in the mouth. There is a muddled coco aftertaste which lingers for a while on the breath. A slightly sweet fruit taste pops in and out of the aftertaste as well. The qi is very alerting, slapping at the mind and sputtering in the chest.

The third pot delivers a flat, bland, barely flavourful pot. Some coco tastes that are hidden under the bland-flat base taste along with some suggestions of fruit. Some clearer tropical fruit tastes come up in the aftertaste minutes later. The mouthfeel is sticky in the front of the mouth and a just touch dry in the back.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2012 Tea Urchin Miles' Birthday Blend Puerh

This sample comes by the way of Eric of discipleoftheleafblog. It is from a cake from Tea Urchin, a tribute to the owner's son. Interestingly it is a blend composed of 80% Gua Feng Zhai and 20% secret?!?.

The dry leaves smell of a soft foresty creamy odour there is a soft creamy cherry sweetness in them which clouds the distance.

The first infusion is prepared and presents with a brackish, empty-watery forest note which slowly transforms into a cherry-plum sweetness. This taste again moves to a cotton-candy like taste. The profile is very simple with no rooting taste grounding the profile. The mouthfeel is very thin and coats the mouth.

The second infusion arrives as slightly sweet, watery, brackish-forest notes. These tastes slowly evolve into somewhat sweet Tutti-fruity notes then swell into creamy tastes on the tongue. The profile still remains thin, almost watery.

The third infusion looses a lot of the dirty forest tastes and presents with a very light foresty note that has a swell of sweetness behind it. This sweet taste evolves into a soft fruity taste then over a light foresty base. The taste is a touch thin but moves simply and nicely through the taste profile.  The qi of this tea is very calming on the mind, and exerts a relaxing feeling.

The fourth infusion is more watery, foresty, simple, very slight sweetness. There are some indistinct fruity notes which mix with forest notes. These tastes slowly move towards a light simple fruit taste with some very light creaminess.

Fifth more harmonized notes of forest and sweetness. Overall light flavour but simple and smooth. Mouthfeel soft and thin but coats the mouth. Turns to slightly more sweetness on breath.

The following infusions get progressively more watery, brackish, and bitter. There are charms of light floral fruits which appear and reappear. These high notes are somewhat more noticeable in these late infusions as they share space with bitter/ watery tastes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Aged Korean Tea: 2006 "ZeDa Tea" Wild Jiri Mountain Balhyocha‏

If you were at all intrigued by the sampling of the 2009 Kim Jong Yeol (Butea) aged and re-roasted balhyocha from Pedro at O5tea, you may also find this post interesting. Once again it offers an interesting perspective on aging balhyocha. What is interesting about this tea is that it was picked from the same area, produced with the same methods, and by the same people that produced the 2011 and 2012 "ZeDa" brand balhyocha that is sold by Sam of Good Green Tea.

The 2011 post states:

"Sam acquired it from a small farm from Sancheong, Jiri Mountain, and that is was completely wild tea. He claimed that Mr. Hong has over 50 years experience making tea and that he makes it all by hand with only the help of his wife. Mr. Hong makes only Hwang cha (balhyocha) with his tea leaves and only produces 15 Kg per year (he keeps 5 KG of this tea). The production of this tea is all natural and even includes air drying the leaves on big heated boulders during night time instead of the standard ondol heated floors which are commonly used to produce balhyocha."

Although one did try many 2006 balhyocha back in 2006, this is the oldest aged sample of balhyocha one has yet to try. 2006 was an excellent year for Korean tea and produced a great harvest. With that said, this should be an epic tasting...

The dry leaf looks much the same as the 2011/2012 but smells of old musky smells. It carries a deep aged odour of sweet black cherry in the distance mixed with a very slight deep forest note. These leaves are stuffed in to a warmed pot.

The first infusion is prepared with hotter water than what one would normally use for a balhyocha, a short rest in the cooling bowl. This first pot is light, juicy, watered-down fruity-pear taste. This initial taste disappears among the faintest date-woody-raisin tastes before disappearing on the breath. The mouthfeel is flat and watery- it supplies a light coating to the mid-deep throat. Clearly hotter water is still required.

The second pot is filled with water that is quickly transferred from the cooling bowl. The taste opens with creamy, spicy, thick, malted-apricot notes with hints of bitter coco and tobacco underneath It is these tastes of coco and tobacco which are last to disappear on the breath. Seconds later a thin woody-forest note skirts underneath The mouthfeel is thin and taught, expansive in the mid- and upper- throat.

Third pot comes with more pronounced woody-forest tastes which were just underling in the last infusion. They now mix evenly with the spicy-malted-apricot notes. There is a depth to all these tastes. The creaminess and thickness of last infusion is less here. There slightly more coarseness and dryness mixed in now. The throat feel is substantial now especially in the deep-mid throat. The sensation is that of a cool opening feeling there. The qi of this tea is very soft, ones face softens and a subtle warm tingling sensation is felt throughout the body. Minutes later a woody taste is left in the mouth.

The fourth and fifth infusions are much the same as the third. The tea is just starting to become more watery now. There is a light, slightly malty-juicy-wood monotone flavour now dominating the profile. A lingering sweet malty-apricot taste lingers minutes later. Qi is strong now on the mind but almost unnoticeable on the body. The qi accumulates lightly in the chest making it feel light.

The sixth, seventh, and eighth infusions are becoming more simple. It is a barely spicy, malty wood taste with a deep woody edge. As the infusions become more watery now they develop and thin-watery, sweet, malty, vague fruitiness, with raisin tones. Some tangy wood notes linger in the breath minutes later. The taste has a simple purity to it.

These leaves are put to some overnight infusions which pull out a malty-sweet, juicy-apricot fruit taste with a thin barely noticeable woody bottom. The thin coating of fruit is long in the mouth. The second overnight infusion is a watered down version of these tastes.

Compare the above notes to the fresh 2011 and 2012 harvest if you wish.

Thank you Sam for this interesting opportunity.  Sam is now taking orders for the 2013 ZeDa Balhyocha from Mr. Hong, in seven years you never know...


Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 Longview Estate FTGFOP 1- EX 7‏ First Flush Darjeeling Tea

Longview Estate is situated at a relatively lower altitude in Darjeeling. The relatively moderate temperatures allow for a slightly earlier harvest time compared to estates at higher altitudes. As a general rule the quality of these teas cannot compete with that of the higher altitudes but they have been know to surprise See three short but nice posts on Longview Estate here.

This sample comes from Lochan Tea (surprise). Let us inspect the leaves as the lid of the kettle shakes in the distance...

Dry leaves smell of subtle sweet fresh dates with edges of fresh grape and florals balancing out the odour.

The first pot delivers medium notes of forest and yams and some perfumey, slightly heavy florals. It has a long distinctly floral-candy sweet aftertaste which lingers on the breath. The mouthfeel is light and leaves a viscus feeling in the mouth.

The second pot delivers a gummy, almost rubbery, but distinctly strong perfumey floral taste. The heavy perfume of flowers lingers for a while in the aftertaste with edges of sweet candy-like edges. The mouthfeel is soft and viscus and is mainly located in the mouth and tongue. The qi is uplifting and calms the mind nicely.

The third infusion tastes of Thrills gum, a grapey-soapy-floral taste of light, sugary, candy like subtle sweetness. The taste is monotone but enjoyable and creeps into the aftertaste.

The fourth offers a bland watery grapey initial taste with still substantial grapey-candy-like sweet aftertaste which lingers minutes later.