May 30, 2013

2013 Zeda Sejak

As I posted yesterday, I received both the Zeda And Jukro 2013 Sejak teas from Sam of  Good Green Tea in the mail a few days ago. I have never had the pleasure of trying any of Zeda,s teas before so......lets get the party rolling and discover what we have here. As it states on the packet, Grown in the Hwaegae Valley of South Korea, known for producing high quality green tea. Heavenly mellow aroma, sweet note with a touch of vegetation.

Yikes! What a horrible picture.  Zeda packages their products in a less elaborate style than Jukro, but that don,t mean anything really. Whats inside is what counts and what I,m seeing and smelling looks good.

The water has boiled, everything is set, so let,s brew some Sejak and enjoy.

There! That,s more like it, isn,t it? Comparing Zeda to Jukro, the Zeda,s dry leaf seems to be much longer and spindly. The scent is a touch more vegetal but a little lighter, brighter than Jukro,s Sejak.

This is always the exciting moment when your trying new teas. The tea is steeping, the pitcher and cups are pre-heating. Now your just waiting to see what emerges from the pot. Will it live up to my expectations? Or will it be just another pot of tea.

This is a very nice, well made tea. A nutty, vegetal, pine tree scent wafts from the pot and cup. It smells really good. The flavor and aroma I associate with Korean green tea is that of malted grain and honey, but there is only the slightest trace of those characteristics here. This tea isn,t a disappointment by any means. Zeda,s Sejak has a lot of depth and richness. The aftertaste hits full force permeating my nasal passage, which is no small feat as I have horrendous allergies this time of year. I would be really interested in trying Zeda,s Jungjak, which has got to be equally gorgeous.

If you have never had fresh Korean teas ( or any fresh green tea ) it really pays to get good quality spring water, the difference it makes is astonishing. Here is Austin the water is very hard and can kill the flavor and aroma of any tea. Even when I have filtered it, the water still tastes of chalk and minerals.

The spent leaf is a mix of whole and torn leaves. A beautiful healthy green. Zeda,s Sejak has more than lived up to my expectations. It,s gorgeous! The durability is good also, 3-4 infusions before it washes out.

I must get more of this tea. One thing that kinda annoys me about some of these teas is that they are packaged is such tiny quantities. This Sejak comes in a 40 gm. packet. To me, that's really just a little more than a  sample size. I,d be much happier with a 100 gm package. But..........that,s just me being nit-picky.

Go see what Matt has to say about this tea.

May 29, 2013

2013 Jukro Sejak

The long awaited 2013 Korean teas are now available from Sam of  Good Green Tea  Apparently  Matt received the exact same teas on the same day that I received mine. 2013 Jukro Sejak and 2013 Zeda Sejak. I have never had the Zeda brand of teas before and I,m curious to see how different they are. But I,m going to sit on the Zeda and dig right into the Jukro.

The packaging is a little different this year, they have included a booklet that is more or less a menu of Jukro,s offerings. Of course the teas are all in ultra deluxe packaging. On the front page of the booklet it states "Can make deep scent only with honest hands"......... this has me worried. Could I possibly make a deep scent? After all, look at how I have lived my life, all the people I have hurt.......Just kidding, I,m a good guy. This reads like a disclaimer, as if they are saying, if you fail to make a decent cup of tea it,s your own moral character that,s to blame. Despite my degree of honesty I,m gonna dig right in and see if I can conjure up a deep scent.

I can never get an accurate color of the dry leaf with this old, worn out camera. But just the same, here it is. The dry leaf is actually a rich, deep, forest green. The aroma is equally deep and rich with a slightly toasty, vegetal smell with a touch of that clean, crisp pine forest in the background. There is also the slightest suggestion of salinity.

As the tea is poured from the pot that much anticipated smell of toasted grains and that unique deep forest greenery permeates the senses. The smell makes me think of a pine forest on a crisp and cool morning. The flavor is more vegetal and toasty than grain with traces of honey or malt. With Junjak it seems that the pecking order flip-flops with the grain taking dominance, with a fuller mouth feel.

You can see by the teas color that it brews up clean and clear. It has a very light body but the aroma and flavor are rich. A very delicate level of sweetness washes over the taste buds and leaves me wanted more.So.......the infusions march forward until the leaf is exhausted and I am satiated.

Are those not some of the freshest looking leaves? All in all the picking standard is good but a good portion of the leaves have been torn. I don,t know if that affects the flavor all that much anyways. I,m looking forward to Jukro,s 2013 Junjak as well. A later harvest tea which has more body and toasted grain flavors but lacks the clarity of a Sejak, at least thats the way I think of it. Jukro is really consistent, the 2013 tea is identical in all aspects to the 2011 version I have posted on previously.

Thats about all I can think of to say about this tea. Very, very nice. But expensive.

May 24, 2013

Ginko's Mothers Tea

I am always in search of teas that are not your everyday sorta things that you find from any number of online stores. When I saw that Ginko was offering a handmade China green that was made by a Mom (not her Mom) it stirred up all kinds of interest in me. I picture a little Chinese woman living a quiet life, just tending her garden and once a year making her own tea. You know perfectly well a Mom is only going to pick the best leaves and see to it that every step of the drying process is done correctly. If you want anything done right, do it yourself. This Mom knows how to make some good tea.

The dry leaf is small in size but thick and chunky. Moms tea has a really pungent aroma. Almost like a Lu Shan Clouds and Mist tea but with a lot more depth. One kinda odd thing about it is that from the moment you add water to the pot the leaves immediately sink to the bottom. It's the only green tea I've seen do this. They absolutely refuse to float, even when I encourage them they stand their ground and refuse to budge.

Mom's tea is pretty much what you would expect from a Mom, unpretentious and humble but satisfying. Very full mouth feel, rich and herbal with a touch of salinity. The aftertaste is the only time I notice any sweetness. Ginko has a small quantity of this tea and is offering it at a absurdly low price. Limited to 2 packets per customer, I'm already at my limit. A really unique tea that I wish I could get more of.

May 9, 2013

Ginko's Great Buddha

I have the good fortune to be the ( very appreciative)  recipient of some of Ginko's (Life In A Tea Cup) Great Buddha Dragon Well. It has been a very long time since Ive had the pleasure of a cup of pre Qing Ming Dragon Well. Ginko was kind enough to send me a few teas from her current selection. These Pre-Qing Ming teas are not available in large quantity's, they are not going to last long. So,  I,m hoping everyone gets a chance to try these teas before they are sold out.

Pre-Qing Ming teas are the first leaves to emerge after the dormancy of Winter. Before the rain is what I remember it as meaning. Highly valued and sought after by tea lovers. But having said that, they are not to everybody,s liking. For some westerners the flavors are too delicate. I think of them as being teas with pristine clarity and focus.

Cute little tin isn't it? It contents are superlative. So green and vibrant. The aroma from the dry leaf is so fresh and sweet. And there is something that reminds me of pine. You can see in the picture below that the picking standard was very consistent. Practically every leaf and bud set are the same size. The dry leaf is still pliable. Not brittle and crumbly. This pliability is testament to its freshness.

My tea table is just about functionality today. No flowers or dramatic lighting. It is, what it is.  The tea has been brewed with loving care and attention. Freshly heated spring water that has dropped to 175 degrees. With Pre-Qing Ming teas I try to be careful with brewing time. A gentle approach pays off.

There are a lot of people that are of the opinion that you don,t have to be all that careful brewing these Pre-Qing Ming teas. I am not one of them. It's too easy to kill the tea by water that is too hot or too lengthy an infusion time. The end result of either of these scenarios is that what should the slightest bite of astringency can easily wind up being the more dominant aspect in the cup, you don't want that.

The aroma of sugar snap peas and pine as well as some very delicate florals waft from the pot and cup. The first sips are sweet as could be. The pine or maybe I should say sap like flavors contrast with the sugar cane sweetness, a perfect balance. Typically I think of Dragon Well teas to be kinda nutty, yeasty, toasty and slightly vegetal, but this one is different, so clean and delicate.

The color of the brewed tea is actually a tad lighter than the picture below. Crystal clear with an almost silvery sheen. Pretty darned durable too boot. I get 3-4 infusions before it starts to fade. The teas aftertaste is unrelenting. It's sweetness permeates the entire mouth and even the nasal passage. It's early spring and I am usually so congested this time of year due to allergies that I cant smell a thing, but this tea seems to have helped to clear me up a little. I wonder if there is any history of tea being used as a decongestant?

Thank You Ginko!  I cant wait to try the some of your other offerings. As this years teas are making their way to the states I,m keeping a close eye on  Life In A Tea Cup  to see what else you have in store for all of us tea lovers. The proofs in the pudding. Evidently, Ginko has some MOFO connections. Take advantage of it for crying out loud. For more information on this tea pay a visit to Ginko. She,ll hook you up!

May 2, 2013

Kim Song Tae Ddokcha

For years I have been reading Mattcha's blog (All things tea, especially Korean) With all the various types of tea that is made in Korea be it Ujeon, Sejak, Jungjak, Hwangcha. One of the teas that most intrigued me was Ddokcha. Actually back when I first started reading Matt's blog I had never had any type of Korean tea. I think it was 2008 when Matt first started his blog and back then there was no chance in hell that a westerner shopping online was going to run across any Korean teas. Things have changed. Now   it's fairly easy to find some good quality, handmade Korean teas. Reading through Matts blog today it's easy to see that  Matt played a significant role in these teas and tea wares becoming easier to source. Always educational and informative. He has taken on some massive projects with his blog, remember the Book Club?  So.......we all owe Matt a big

Or maybe we should hold him to blame. Haha!

Anyways, on to the Ddokcha. The one I brewed today was made by Kim Song Tae. A gift from
 Morning Crane Tea. A small circular wafer of compressed tea. I had a general idea of how to brew this tea, a fairly large qty. of water and a brewing time of about 2-3 hours. I knew going into this that the brewing time was crucial, too little and the teas bitterness would dominate. I tasted the tea as it brewed to learn what to look for and to see the how the flavor and aroma changed as the tea continued to simmer away in a glass kettle.
The tea has a very pungent aroma of spice's. Sure enough as it continued to brew the Ddokcha developed a rounder, softer, sweeter flavor. The soup had changed from a pale yellow to a deep orange color. I had tasted it at around the 2 hour mark and it was quite bitter and astringent. By hour 3 the tea was pretty good. Even though this was the first time I have tasted Ddokcha I think it is a simple, unpretentious tea. There is not tons of complexity but what is there is pretty straight forward and easy to enjoy.

Next time I'll take some pics and do the whole kit and kaboodle for ya!