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My tasting notes: two Korean green teas side by side

My tasting notes: two Korean green teas side by side

At the Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation booth at World Tea Expo, I got two green tea samples with the purchase of a Korean black tea stuffed in a citrus fruit. I had had Se jak before, so I was curious to compare it to the other green tea sample I received, Woo jeon. This was the perfect excuse to delve into Korean tea production. Here’s what I’ve learned, followed by my tasting notes.

Se jak Korean green tea

Korean Green Tea Flushes and Grades

Grades and flushes are closely interconnected. Different plucking standards are typical of each flush / harvest.

Woo jeon (literally “before the rains”) is the first flush and the highest grade of Korean green tea. Plucking standard is leaf buds, picked before April 22 (the time varies slightly each year). 

Se jak is the second flush and the second highest grade of Korean tea. Plucking standard is 1 leaf bud and 1-2 leaves, 
picked in early spring, but not necessarily before April 22 (usually afterwards). 

Joong jak is the third flush and consists of tea leaves without leaf buds.

Dae jak is the summer flush. Plucking standard is larger leaves and stems.

The information I found about processing methods was ambiguous. One the one hand, it seems that Korean green teas are typically roasted, similarly to Chinese green teas, but each company has very different processing methods. Following the kill green, the tea is rolled by hand or machine and dried. Sometimes there might be additional roasting stages. On the other hand, kill green by steaming is also used. Finally, I read about a hybrid method that involves two steps: the leaves are blanched for a few seconds in boiling water before being roasted in a hot wok. I think the Se jak I’m tasting here was roasted but the Woo jeon might have been steamed because it was so powerfully umami it reminded me of a Japanese gyokuro. The only way to know for sure is to contact the company, of course.

Woo jeon Korean green tea

Tea Name: Organic Green Tea (Woo jeon)
Origin: Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation, South Korea
Ingredients: green tea
Manufacturing date: 04.17.2018 

Preparation Method: kyusu teapot
Leaves/Water Ratio: 6 gr / 210 ml (approx 7 fl oz) spring water / filtered tap water
Water Temperature: 160 F / 165 F / 165 F
Steep Time: 30 seconds / 40 seconds / 1 minute

EYE
dry leaves: dark green with lighter hues, very small and curly buds, slightly rolled lengthwise
wet leaves: soft tender green
liquor: light green with slight yellow hints, veers towards yellow with subsequent infusions 

NOSE
dry leaves: sweet and fresh
wet leaves: umami (powerful) and roasty notes
liquor: slightly vegetal

PALATE
liquor: delicate, soothing, umami on the tip of the tongue, slightly mouthwatering. Second steep: slightly roasty notes with an aromatic savoriness at the back of the mouth, as it cools there’s the slightest astringency

Woo jeon Korean green tea

MOUTHFEEL: silky, medium bodied, slightly viscous

FOOD PAIRING: beautiful summer salad of fresh and tender vegetables

OVERALL IMPRESSION: delicate yet powerful at the same time

Woo jeon Korean green tea

Tea Name: Organic Green Tea (Se jak)
Origin: Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation, South Korea
Ingredients: green tea
Manufacturing date: 04.27.2018 

Preparation Method: kyusu teapot
Leaves/Water Ratio: 6 gr / / 210 ml (approx 7 fl oz) spring water / filtered tap water
Water Temperature: 160 F / 165 F / 165 F
Steep Time: 30 seconds / 40 seconds / 1 minute

EYE
dry leaves: dark green, wiry and slightly curly, rolled lengthwise
wet leaves: soft tender green
liquor: light green with slight yellow hints

NOSE
dry leaves: vegetal with some slight pine-y notes
wet leaves: vegetal and sweet, notes of roasted eggplant and toasted bread
liquor: vegetal and sweet

PALATE
liquor: sweet and slightly roasty, nutty, mouthwatering

Se jak Korean green tea

MOUTHFEEL: silky, medium bodied, slightly viscous

FOOD PAIRING: with scallops, because it would balance their delicate creamy texture with its vegetal character

OVERALL IMPRESSION: bolder than the first flush and equally delicious

Woo jeon Korean green tea

Both teas looked similar, yielded 3 steeps each and I preferred steeping them in filtered tap water rather than bottled spring water, because it gave both more character.

Sources of information about Korean teas:

Cha Han Jahn

Tea Nerd

Shan Shui Teas

Korean-Arts

Tea in the City

Disclaimer: I was not paid to mention or review businesses, products or services. This is my honest opinion.

World Tea Expo 2018

World Tea Expo 2018