April 30, 2012

2011 Ssangke Black Tea Sejak

Here's something tasty for us to try today, Ssangke's, Black Tea Sejak. In my opinion, Korean black tea's have absolutely nothing common with western style black tea's. No astringency or bitterness to be found here. This is the 2nd time Ive purchased this tea from Sam at Good Green Tea. It's not often that I find tea's that I deem good enough to re-order, but this tea is really, really good. The usual scenario with me is that initially I,m really liking a tea then by the time Ive finished the bag Ive grown weary of it, not the case with this one. Pricey? Yes, but not exceedingly so. $27.99 for 40 gms. But they are presently on sale, refer to Good Green Tea's site to find out the sale price. Inside the container are two, 20 gm. zip top packets. As far as I,m concerned, it's money well spent. And if you take into consideration that Good Green Tea offers free priority mail shipping and that Sam's fast as lightning when it comes to getting your order out, then it's really a justifiable /  affordable treat.

But then again......if there is one thing I am exceptionally good at it's justifying buying expensive tea's and tea ware's.

The container states, Black tea Sejak is a tea that was fermented and aged for 500 days.
As a Sejak tea, it also has a refreshing, light taste and has a bright tea color that resembles the sunset. Compared to ordinary teas, this aged tea has a mild taste that everyone of all ages can enjoy.

I agree that this is a tea that everyone would enjoy. The aroma wafting from the tea pot would even hold the attention  of a child. As soon as the water hits the pot there is the delicious smell of nut's, chocolate and honey. The malted grain aroma's are there as well. Smells sweet as could be, kinda like a candy bar.

The dry leaf is mostly whole unbroken leaves that also remind me of chocolate. You can see that though the leaf is primarily the color of cocoa there are little touches of green still to be found. So, this tea hasn't really been "fully fermented" as a typical black tea is.

The picture above is the first infusion. The flavors mimic the aroma to perfection. Nuts, chocolate, toffee, honey, toasted grain and the faintest touch of very delicate florals. It's kinda surprising that the floral aspects are still intact after being fermented and aged for 500 days. The floral flavors don't deminish with repeated steepings, in fact they become more noticable in the later brews.

This tea is so rich and sweet that it's kinda like having a dessert. In the background there is the slightest hint of a dry, woodsy aspect. Very durable, I easily get 4-5 good steepings.

Pictured below are the spent leaves. It's not really a "black tea" it's more of an Oolong to me. Or should I say Balhyocha, which is the Korean name for a semi-fermented tea.

This is a very nice tea that I,m enjoying a lot. Again, as I mentioned above, this tea is actually quite affordable. But like all Korean tea's they are expensive when compared to tea's from another origin. So, for me these tea's fall into the category of "special treat" not an everyday sorta tea.

April 27, 2012

2011 Jukro Hwagae Valley Jungjak

So here's the follow up to yesterdays post. In yesterdays post we tried Jukro's 2011 Sejak. Today lets get into Jukro's 2011 Jungjak. Sejak is typically the second flush and the Jungjak the third. I think these are just general rules, depending on the weather there's room to fudge a little with these classifications.

Once again the packaging of Jukro teas is DELUXE. So many layers of stuff to open before you get to the tea. The Sejak is packaged in two 40 gram sealed packets. The Jungjak is packaged in one 80 gm. packet but inside the foil bag that you see in the picture below is guess what?.......Another bag, this time a bag made of wax paper. Jeez...............I,m getting excited over wax paper?

The sign of a true tea head, bull dog clips. There never seems to be enough of them. Thank you Jukro for packaging your teas with these indispensable tea accessories.

The dry leaf is noticeably chunkier and larger. Not a great picture here, too much glare, kinda washed out and dull, but you get the idea. The leafs aroma is heavier and sweeter smelling than the Sejak. The toasted, malted grain aroma's take dominance. Woodsy, earthy and sticky sweet. Smells delicious!

Like the Sejak, the Jungjak's flavors accurately match the teas aromas. The Jungjak's mouth feel is heavier, coating the palate with woodsy, nutty, toasted grain and honey flavors. Lacking the pristine clarity of the Sejak, substituting  equally delicious but simpler flavors. In the later infusions the fruit and florals make an appearance, but they are more like stone fruits. Where as the Sejak has more of a  lighter fruit flavor, such as pears. The notes of pine and sap found in the Sejak are not present here.

Like the Sejak, the Jungjak's durability is excellent. I get three good infusions, maybe four if I was a little more careful with my timing, I tend to let the later infusions steep for a little longer than necessary, not intentionally but because I get distracted easily sometimes. You would think that when dealing with teas that are this pricey I'd learn to pay more attention, but no, sad to say, but I don't.

You can see that the tea brews up almost as clean as the Sejak. Maybe just a tad more yellow. Jukro's teas are for me a special treat, not something I could afford to drink regularly, that is, were they always available. Sam at  Good Green Tea has only a couple of these teas left in stock, and they probably won't last long. 

I accidentally deleted the picture of the used leaves, I,ll add another at a later time.

April 26, 2012

2011 Jukro's Hwagae Valley Sejak

Like me, this tea is getting to be quite elderly but not quite ready to retire. Sam at Good Green Tea is offering a line of Jukro teas, as well as Hankook and Ssangkye brands. Sam's a real nice guy and offers these teas at a fair price and free shipping. By the way, he is pretty darned fast at getting his orders out, it's never taken more than two days for me to receive my order. My purchase consisted of this Sejak and Jukro's Jungjak.

Being from the 2011 season I was a little hesitant to spend my hard earned cash on these teas. But then again, I was very surprised when I had tasted Ssangkye's 2011 Jungno, tasted as fresh as could be and was a superb Korean green tea. So what the hell......I went ahead and placed my order.

Such elaborate packaging. Jukro's teas come in 80 gm. containers but are packaged in two 40 gm. sealed packets and thrown in for good measure is a small bulldog clip to re-close the bags after opening, these guy's think of everything.

The dry leaf is long and spindly, mostly whole un-broken leaves. I guess all that packaging paid off. It smells very fresh and green, kind of an earthy, foresty green. In the background there is the faintest of pine or sap aroma's that are just begging for some hot water to let them come out to play.

So the waters been heated, the table set, let's get down to business and see what we have here.

Just as I expected, there it is, the whole rooms been filled with that smell that is so unique to Korean tea's. Toasted grain and honey with the aforementioned pine and sap playing their part. So clean and pure, but quite earthy and foresty at the same time. Jukro's tea's seem to me to be a little more down to earth and wild tasting than other Korean tea's Ive had, maybe that's their niche.

The cup brews up so clean and crystal clear. The same notes of grain and honey that is in the aroma are in the tea's flavors as well. In the aftertaste the pine is the most noticeable aspect, along with a very subtle sweetness.

You can see for yourself that the picking standard was pretty good, mostly whole leaves. A very fresh vibrant green for being a year old now. Typically they turn a green grey with time. I consider the price of this tea as money well spent. No regrets, I,m loving every sip. The flavors hold up pretty well through 3-4 infusions. Never becoming overly vegetal and chalky, but remaining the same as it started, just toning it down with each additional infusion until the leaf is spent. Though in the later cups there is a little tartness, it's barely noticeable, and not necessarily a bad thing.

Next up..............Jukro's Jungjak.

April 20, 2012

Tea Trekker's Organic Co-Op Jungjak

Ive been drinking this Jungjak for a while now. Tea Trekker has this on sale for $72.00 a lb. From what I understand this tea is grown in the Hwagae valley and it's a blend from a co-op of growers. This batch of Jungjak is from a late spring pluck (4th pluck, early May ) so it's flavors are just a little more assertive and maybe a little less refined than an earlier harvest would be. But just the same it's flavors and aromas are pretty darned nice, especially for the asking price.

As you can see the dry leaf is a little on the chunky side. Not bad, but much coarser than an earlier harvested tea. The smell of the dry leaf is unmistakably Korean green tea. It has that toasted grain aroma with slight vegetal notes. Using water that's at 175 degrees this tea brews a cup that tastes of malted grain, a little woodsy and sweet. In the background are some fruity aspects and just the faintest of florals. Using water that's 180-185 brings the vegetal flavors to the foreground.

Just a photo-op for my new Park Jong Il teapot. Ive had this pot for a couple of months and it's pretty well seasoned now. When new it brewed a pretty bland pot of tea. Both it's interior and exterior are un-glazed so it takes a while for the interior to become saturated with tea oils. The pot holds heat very well but unlike most stoneware teapots it's walls are fairly thin (a testement to the potters skill ) and consequently doesn't over steep green teas.

With most quality Korean tea's I usually will re-steep the leaves 2-3 times. But with this particular tea the second infusion is kinda ummm........not so great. But all in all, this is a good everyday sorta tea that's sold at an attractive price.

You can tell by the soups color that it's from a late harvest, much deeper yellow and not as clear and clean.
Sorry for the kinda bland, washed out pics but my camera wasn't being very co-operative today.

Another Park Jong Il tea cup. I love this cup, it holds a fairly large amount for a Korean cup, maybe 5 ounces or so. The glaze seems to change daily with new little fractures showing up. One thing Ive noticed is that if you use it daily it becomes kinda dark and grey on the inside but returns to it's normal color if left to dry overnight. Ive become quite a fan of Park Jong Il's tea wares and am looking forward to adding to my collection. There's something about Korean tea wares, or should I say Korean pottery in general that appeals to me. More than just another material acquisition for my tea cabinet, there is something I find very down to earth and unpretentious. The soft, creamy glaze of the cups have no need for decoration. There is a world of beauty in the glaze itself. The slight shine of the teapot is the result of being fired in a wood burning kiln. Park Jong Il uses pine as his wood of choice. You,ll notice that one side of the teapot is shiny and the other side is matte. The shiny side is the one that was facing the fire in the kiln.

April 17, 2012

Dong Cheon Dan-Cha

It's been well over a year since I last posted on Tea Goober. My absence has nothing to do with lack of interest, I,m still drinking just as much tea as ever. I still enjoy staying up with what everyone else is writing about. It's just that in a lot of ways it's much more enjoyable to be a spectator than a participant. There has been many a time Ive ruined a tea session trying to get good photos. I know a lot of my fellow tea bloggers can relate to that. But just the same, I couldn't help showing off my new tea wares. A teapot and Tum-bung-mun tea cup made by Park Jong Il. Gorgeous aren't they? Thank you Arthur for making these superb wares and teas available. If you haven't been to Arthur's site then by all means head on over  Morning Crane Tea 

 Dan-Cha ( Korean black tea ) lacks much of the bitterness and astringency that are normally associated with traditional black teas. Though the flavors are definitely that of a fully fermented tea it's much lighter and delicate. Kinda like Bahlyocha with a slight edge. To me thats exactly what this tea is, Bahlyocha thats been taken just a step further in the oxidation process.

Very durable, with that slightly sweet,woodsy grain like flavor hanging in there to the last cup.
In the later infusions there are some fruit and floral aspects, just like a good bahlyocha. As you can see it brews up a light amber cup with great clarity.

Ive found all Korean teas whether they be green, oolong ( yellow tea) or black all have a distinctive flavor and aroma that is unique to their place of origin. A malted grain, slightly sweet cup. It's interesting how you can trace the flavor characteristics through the different grades of tea. Ujeon, Sejak, Jungjak, Daejak. They all have their own individuality and character but there is an undercurrent that ties them all together. This Dan-Cha is in my opinion a great value. If you like Bahlyocha, you'll like Dan-Cha, they share a lot traits.

Lets raise a cup to the 2012 season and see what it brings.