Although I do have some limited experience with the teas of South Korea, Hankook Tea is doing their very best to upgrade my level of experience. Thanks to their generosity, I am about to get a crash course in South Korean teas. I could not be more excited to get started. If you are interested in checking out the variety of green and other partially oxidized teas and herbal products offered by Hankook Tea, visit their website here.
Hankook Tea operates several tea farms called the Honam Tea Estates, located in the Jeollanam-do province of south west Korea. The green tea that I am sampling tonight is the Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea. This is a first flush (sejak) tea that is hand plucked in April of each year. That being the case, this sample package should be from the 2013 first flush.
The sample packet has been opened, and a potent sweet scent is perfectly complimenting the fresh, dark green color of the leaves. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform fresh, dark forest green color. The leaves appear to be small to medium sized fragments. There are no whole leaves, and some very short bare stems in the mix. The leaves are rolled. The aroma is very sweet, with scents of brown sugar and molasses.
Four grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 160ºF (70ºC). The leaves were infused for two minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale, light jade green color with slight golden tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was very fresh, with scents of sweet fresh cut grass, light brown sugar, and light nut. The body is medium, with an incredibly smooth, almost melted butter texture. The taste is clean, and has a savory (umami) character, with notes of fresh cut grass, light wood, light nut, and light brown sugar. The aftertaste is sweet, with a lasting flowery essence on the breath.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of pale jade green with gold tint. This infusion had a light haziness to it, and finer sediment in the cup. The aroma remains fresh, with scents of fresh cut grass and light nut. The scent is not as sweet as the first infusion. The body remains medium, with a melted butter texture, albeit not at such a level as the first infusion. The taste maintains some savory (umami) character, and the taste is dominated by the fresh cut grass, wood, and nut notes. The aftertaste remains lightly sweet, with the flowery essence persisting.
The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade than the second infusion of pale jade green with gold tint. The light haziness has returned, and more fine sediment is in the cup. The aroma has lightened, with scents of fresh cut grass, light nut, and a very light sweetness. The body has lightened some, and the buttery texture has also thinned significantly. The taste retains the notes of fresh cut grass, wood, and nuts. The savory character is very light. The aftertaste is more grassy, but the flowery essence persists. Despite the lighter overal character, this third infusion had plenty of aroma and taste to offer.
The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments, and there are some short bare stems. The leaves are very soft and delicate to the touch. The aroma has scents of fresh cut wet grass, with a slight sweetness.
There were two aspects of the Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea that I found extraordinary, the aroma of the dry leaves, and the buttery texture of the liquor. The savory umami character was very pleasant, and the aromas and tastes were very clean and fresh, overall. This is another great example of how types of teas are so unique to their origin. This tea had some aspects similar to both Japanese and Chinese green teas. However, the intense buttery texture made it unique from any other green tea that I have had from any origin. Fans of Japanese or Chinese (or both) should give this tea a chance when they feel like changing their routine slightly. This tea has just enough unique character to be a refreshing break from the normal regimen.
Thank you to Hankook Tea for providing me with the opportunity to experience South Korean tea. There are some very interesting samples in this box, so look for more reviews of the products from Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estates. Cheers!
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