August 30, 2010

2010 Dong Cheon Hwagae Valley Ujeon

Saving the "best" for last and letting Petr's Shiboridashi have the honors we have Dong Cheons Ujeon. Courtesy of Tea Trekker, A big "Thank You" go's to Bob & Mary Lou Heiss for their generosity. Having had both the Jungjak and the Sejak and realizing how different those two teas were I didn't know what to expect from the Ujeon. This Ujeon was made from the second spring pluck (mid April) the Sejak from the third spring pluck, the Jungjak from the fourth. All three teas are made from the exact same semi wild organic tea bush's grown in the Hwagae valley. So..... the waters been boiled, tea tables set,  let the session begin.

The Ujeon is the most expensive of the three Korean teas currently offered by Tea Trekker. At $60.00 for a canister containing ten 3.3 gm. packets.  It's evidently "worthy" of special packaging. Is this tea worth such a lofty price? In my opinion, it's worth every penny. But having said that, this is a tea I would buy rarely and only for special occasions. Sometimes you've just gotta set limits.

 The Ujeon is a much finer, smaller leaf than the Sejak or the Jungjak, which is to be expected. The dry leaf has a rich but delicate silvery, green color. Very fresh, slightly sweet vegetal aroma with traces of cherry blossoms and the tenderest, young, pine. The teas aroma has such depth, clarity and balance. It really does remind me of fresh spring meadows. This tea is special! Lighter and cleaner than the Sejak or Jungjak, almost feminine in it's nature. A little more crisp and savory than the other two teas. In both the Sejak and the Jungjak the cereal or malted grain flavors and aromas are much more prevelant, the Ujeon contains these aspects as well but very subtle. The Ujeons berry flavors are more delicate and understated compared to either the Sejak or the Jungjak. The aftertaste is quite persistent, lasting long after the teas been drunk.

Just look at those leaves! Gorgeous, aren't they? Tender young shoots loaded with juicy spring time goodness. This tea requires water that's a little cooler than would normally be used for green tea, around 160 degrees or so. I noticed in the later infusions that the Ujeon maintained it's aroma through out the session, in fact, even when the session was over the leaves were still quite fragrant. Usually a teas aroma fades more rapidly than this.

Although these teas are pricey  I think it important to fight the impulse to skimp on the quantity of leaf used. Actually, this applies to all teas. You need enough leaf to attain fully saturated flavors and aromas. Don't fork out that much money and then cheat yourself out of tasting the teas potential.

Again, such sparkling, crystaline, clarity. That shimmering, golden, silvery soup speaks volumes about the teas quality. That cup is brimming with some of the juiciest, most delicious tea Ive ever had. It's fascinating to know that all three of Dong Cheons teas are made from the exact same bush's. They are so different from each other yet they also share some aspects in aromas and flavors. I can honestly say that I don't consider the more expensive "best" ones to be better than the lesser expensive. Like three brothers you can see the similarities of all three, but all three have their own identity and character.

I,m glad I had the opportunity to try these Korean green teas, they are all superb examples of the tea makers art. Also a "Thank You" to Matt for providing us with a wealth of first hand knowledge and much experience with these teas. If this post has tweaked your interest then be sure to visit Matt, Mattchas Blog can keep you busy for hours.


  1. Beautiful post about beautiful tea. The dry leaves, leaves being infused, infusion... I can almost feel the wonderfulness of this tea from your photos and it makes me want to try some fresh Ujeon. I've tried only Saejak and Jungjak from this year's harvest, though those two were really wonderful and remarkable teas.
    Thanks for this post, Bret!

  2. Your very welcome Michal! The Ujeon is a superb tea. The aroma alone will make your mouth water with anticipation. As you know, this stuff is pricey, but If I were you I,d buy some for a more complete experience. Fascinating stuff.

  3. Bret,

    Love your appraisals of these Dong Cheon Teas. One has linked your reviews to ones original commentary.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on Dao Tea's Korean greens.


  4. Thanks Matt, I am eagerly awaiting Dao Teas offerings. Am I wrong in assuming that Dao Teas Korean green teas are not made using the Jeong Cha method? It would be interesting to try teas produced using the more common "in-out, in-out method.

  5. Bret,

    You are right, Dao Tea is not produced using the jung cha method. Instead it uses the much much more common method that you mentioned.