Here is a tea that has caught my eye on many occasions, but just always seemed to get unfairly passed over in the sea of samples awaiting review. Today’s review will focus on the Hwang Cha Amber wulong tea from Hankook tea, sourced from the Honam Tea Estates in South Korea. To learn more about Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estates, visit Hankook Tea’s website here.
This is the first tea that I have reviewed from Hankook Tea that is not a green tea. The sample package describes this tea as partially oxidized, thus my classification as a wulong tea. Although it appears and smells more like a black (red) tea, I will yield to the description of the manufacturer on the tea type.
This wulong tea was produced from the leaves of the second harvest or flush of the 2013 year. The grade of the leaves is called Joongjak (second flush).
The sample packet has been opened, and a sweety, woody scent is easily recognizable. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a dark brown to black color. The leaves are all medium fragments, with some bare stems in the mix. The leaves are somewhat loosely rolled. The level of oxidation looks quite high, and the appearance resembles a red tea more than a wulong. The aroma has scents of molasses, dry wood, and light spice.
Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron Tokoname kyusu teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes, with thirty seconds being added to subsequent infusions.
The first infusion produced a liquor with an orange-amber color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of molasses, wood, very light nut, and light baked apples. The body is medium, with a thin juice-like, rounded texture. The taste has notes of wood, light molasses, and light apple. The aftertaste and lingering essence in the mouth is uniquely sweet and slightly fruity. I cannot say that I have experienced the same sweet essence with other teas.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a golden-yellow color. The aroma lightened some, retaining the scents of wood, very light molasses, and very light baked apple. The body and texture thinned some. The taste also lightened, retaining notes of wood, light molasses, and light apple. The aftertaste and essence also lightened, but remained sweet.
The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden-yellow color. The aroma, body, and taste all lightened significantly. I recommend only using these leaves for two infusions, as this third infusion is very light in aroma and taste. There is nothing bad about the third infusion. It is simply very light.
The infused leaves have a uniform dark copper color. The leaves are all medium fragments, with some bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a wet, very thin leathery feel to them, and are not as delicate as I expected them to be, given the character of the third infusion. The aroma has scents of wet wood and light spice.
This Hwang Cha Amber is an intriguing product. Although technically only partially oxidized, it appears to be a red tea in most aspects. The taste and aroma are fairly complex, and well layered. The sweet aftertaste and essence are truly unique, and this was the characteristic that left the most significant impression on me. The first infusion was very interesting and enjoyable, while the second and third infusions were significantly lighter than the prior infusion. I have one more sample similar to this, being the Hwang Cha Gold. I will be interesting to see what the difference is between the two.
Thank you to Hankook Tea for providing this interesting and unique tea. Cheers!