Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest from Hankook Tea

Sometimes it can be a challenge to hold off on reviewing certain samples, but I do try to cycle through samples from different vendors for several reasons. This sample of Gamnong Jaksul Cha from Hankook Tea was definitely one of the samples that I had to practice some discipline in not tearing into as soon as I received it, and every day since.

According to the Hankook Tea website, this Gamnong Jaksul Cha (Green Tea) was harvested by hand in mid to late April of 2017 from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. The harvesting takes place immediately before and after the Gokwoo season, which is the “rainfall of seeding”, and is the 6th of 24 seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar.

You can purchase a 100 gram canister of the Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest from the Hankook Tea website for USD $68.00 plus shipping fees.

Let’s get to the review…

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have an almost perfectly uniform fresh dark forest green color with a slight shimmer. The leaves consist of medium sized fragments, and there are some fresh buds in the mix, as well as a few young, bare stems or shoots. There may be some unbroken, small, young leaves in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled. The aroma is fresh and warming, with scents of caramel, dried grass, toasted rice, and dried wild flowers.

Dry leaves were placed in a bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused in 175°F water for 2:00 minutes.

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, green color with a slight haze. The aroma has fresh scents of steamed spinach, fresh cut grass, wildflowers, and rice milk. The body is medium, with a slightly brothy texture, and a lively, clean energy. There is a nice balance of light umami and astringency. The taste has notes of steamed spinach, swiss chard, wildflowers, dandelion, rice, and a touch of bitterness that reminds me of walnuts. The aftertaste carries the grassy and floral notes, and lingers on the breath.

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are tender, young, and small. They are very soft and delicate to the touch, and tear apart quite easily after 3 infusions. The mix consists mostly of leaf fragments, but there are a few unbroken leaves, bud fragments, and a few young, bare shoots. The aroma continues the scents of fresh grass, steamed spinach, wildflowers, dandelion, and rice milk. Altogether, I took six infusions from these leaves, and although the last infusion or two were quite light on taste, they were still refreshing and enjoyable.

The Gamnong Green Tea could easily be a daily drinker for me (and I have not even tried it cold-brewed yet). As I have mentioned in earlier posts about the green teas from Hankook Tea, these products seem to be a perfect blend of Japanese style and Chinese style greens teas, with the light umami, grassiness of Japanese, and the nutty, floral characters of the Chinese. Overall, it just seems to hit all parts of the tongue with excellent balance. It is clean, refreshing, uplifting, and truly satisfying. If you have not given South Korean green teas a chance yet, now is the time!

Thanks again to Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Gamnong Green Tea! As usual, it was another great experience. Cheers!

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea from Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estate

Last week, I saw a social media post from Hankook Tea that sparked my excitement. Hankook Tea was the first brand of South Korean tea that I had ever experienced, and I have not had many others since (maybe one or two). I never quite forgot the experiences with the teas from this brand back in 2014. Here is a map showing the general location of Honam Tea Estate.

Anyway, the social media post was announcing the arrival of their 2017 Ujeon Sejak harvest. This is basically a special harvest completed before the full first flush harvest from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. Ujeon (pronounced “woo-jeon”) translates into English as “before rain”. So, the delicate buds and young leaves in this tea were hand harvested before the first rain (Gokwoo) of the spring harvest. I suppose that only an experienced tea lover can get excited over this description.

The Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea is currently being offered from Hankook Tea in the 70 gram canister for USD $120.00 plus shipping, or a 10 gram sample pack for USD $18.00 plus shipping. Just a warning, 10 grams is not going to be enough, and you will be stuck wanting more until next year.

I will get more detailed about my love for South Korean teas in a future post. I still have reviews planned for the Jaksul Gamnong 2017 Green Tea and the Hwang Cha Gold 2016.

Let’s get to the review…

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform fresh dark forest green color. The mixture consists of medium leaf fragments to unbroken young leaves and buds. The leaves and buds appear to be machine rolled. The leaves are thin and delicate, and crack easily into small crumbs. The aroma has fresh scents of brown sugar, sweet butter, dried kelp, fresh spinach, and wild spring flowers.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 175°F water for 2:00 minutes.

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale light greenish-yellow color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, lightly cooked spinach, butter, wild flowers, kelp, and a touch of brown sugar and toasted nuts. The body is medium, with a velvety, rich texture, with a savory character not quite like the umami of a good Japanese gyokuro, but remarkable in its own rite. The taste has notes of spinach, grass, wild flowers, kelp, light butter and toasted nuts. The aftertaste has a clean, grassy, and floral character that lingers on the tongue.

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The blend consists of mostly leaf and young bud fragments, with a small percentage of unbroken leaves and buds. The leaves are very thin and delicate, and have the common serrated edges. The unbroken leaves are very small and young. All but one leaf show no signs of oxidation (you can see the one leaf with a reddish tint just to the right of the center of the photo). The aroma has scents of lightly cooked spinach, fresh grass, wild flowers, and kelp.

After years of reminiscing on the tasteful experiences of Hankook Tea products, this Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea quickly brought me back to those previous tastings. Literally within one second of breaking the seal on the packet, an explosion of fresh, sweet scents filled my office. The savory character and rich texture of the tea, combined with a jab of astringency, and the clean, fresh grass and flowery taste, truly brings together an experience that hits every bud of the tongue. I probably infused these leaves about ten times altogether, simply because I did not want to stop drinking this tea. The taste was quite light after the sixth infusion, but I did not care. I just wanted more.

Thank you to Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estate for providing this sample of Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea! This was an excellent reminder of the quality and pleasure I have come to expect from this brand of products. And thank you, as always, to my readers. Cheers!

Teuksun 2014 Green Tea from Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estates

Today’s review will focus on the Teuksun Green Tea from Hankook Tea, sourced from the Honam Tea Estates. The Honam Tea Estates are located on the southern tip of South Korea’s mainland. To view this tea at the Hankook Tea website, please click here.

The leaves used to produce the Teuksun Green Tea are harvested around the first days of summer (Ibha), typically in the first week of May. This harvest consists of both first flush and second flush leaves, which is intended to create a unique blend of delicate and robust tastes. Hankook Tea describes the grade as sejak.

The Honam Tea Estates consist of three separate plantations, being the Haenam, Youngam, and Jangsung. The Jangsung Tea Plantation produces much of the powdered green teas, and is a certified organic plantation. The Youngam Tea Plantation is overall the most productive of the three plantations, and is a symbol of the beauty of South Korean tea gardens. The Haenam Tea Plantation is located near the southern coast, and has an ideal blend of climatic conditions conducive to growing high quality tea bushes. Search Google for the images of these plantations, and get ready to be dumbfounded by the beauty. If I were a rich man, I would be on a plane heading to South Korea right now. Alas, I am not, so I am stuck in bitter cold, but at least sunny (at the moment), western Pennsylvania.

My instincts have been drawing me to green teas lately, mostly of the Japanese and Korean type, so I was excited to find this one last green tea sample from Hankook Tea. I am hoping to get a taste of the 2015 harvests once they are ready.

The sample packet has been opened, and instantly I feel the amazingly sweet fragrance that I have come to expect from the Hankook green teas. Let the journey begin…

Teuksun Green Tea Dry Leaves
Teuksun Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. There are no bare stems or buds in the mix. The leaves are lightly machine rolled, and have a dry, slightly rigid texture. The pluck cannot be determined by the dry leaves. The smell has scents of brown sugar, sweet grass, hay, and a light touch of dry gardenia flowers.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Spring water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.

Teuksun Green Tea Liquor
Teuksun Green Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a rich, greenish-yellow color. There is a slight haze, making the liquor translucent, but not perfectly transparent. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, brown sugar, steamed asparagus, butter, and gardenia. The body is medium, with a smooth, buttery texture, and a pleasant umami quality. There is a medium level of astringency. The taste has notes of fresh grass, butter, steamed asparagus, sweet corn, brown sugar, and gardenia. The aftertaste carries the grassy notes and a touch of brown sugar, evolving into a satisfying floral essence.

Teuksun Green Tea Infused Leaves
Teuksun Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. There are no bare stems or buds in the mix. The pluck cannot be determined. The leaves have a very soft, smooth texture. The smell has scents of fresh grass, gardenia, and steamed asparagus.

The Teuksun Green Tea from Hankook Tea provided me with the exact green tea experience that I was looking for today. It was satisfying, invigorating, uplifting, and truly fulfilling. Although the dry and infused leaves give little to observe other than fantastic smells and fresh colors, the experience of the liquor is phenomenal from start to finish. The liquor color is beautiful, the aroma is fresh and rich, the texture is deeply satisfying, and the overall taste is exactly as advertised, complex and robust. The second infusion is still very tasteful and fulfilling, and I am confident that the third infusion will be easy to enjoy, however lighter in overall character. My Friday has been fairly calm and pleasant so far, and this Teuksun Green Tea has definitely lifted my mood to a level that I wish I could replicate more often.

Thank you to the management of Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Teuksun Green Tea. Happy weekend everyone! Cheers!

Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea from Hankook Tea

Moving along through the samples of South Korean tea, courtesy of Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estates. Today’s review will focus on the Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea. This tea is certified organic by the USDA and Korea. For more information about Hankook Tea, visit their website here.

The leaves of this Organic Jaksul Chut Mool are selected from both the first flush (Sejak) and second flush (Joongjak) harvests. The leaves are harvested by hand in May of each year. The leaves in this sample are from the 2013 harvest year.

The sample packet has been opened, and a clean aroma is complimenting the fresh appearance of the leaves. Let the journey begin…

Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea Dry Leaves
Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. All leaves are small to medium fragments, and are rolled. A few of the leaves are rolled into a pellet shape. There are very few bare stems, and the ones that are present are quite small. The aroma has scents of sweet wood, fresh grass, and light brown sugar.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in a 18 ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds.

Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea 1st Infusion
Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright yellow with a slight jade green tint. The aroma has scents of fresh wet grass, light wood, and light brown sugar. The body is light-medium, with a clean, very smooth texture. The taste is very fresh, with a slight savory (umami) character, and notes of wet grass, light flowers, light wood, and very light brown sugar. The aftertaste is fresh and grassy, with a very impressive floral essence lingering on the breath.

Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea 2nd Infusion
Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a darker shade of yellow-gold with a slight jade green tint. The aroma remains grassy, lightly woody, and lightly sweet. The body remains light-medium. The taste is grassy, with a stronger floral note, light wood, and very light brown sugar. The aftertaste is more floral, and the essence continues to impress me with the strength and linger time.

Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea 3rd Infusion
Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a pure light jade green color. The aroma has lightened some, but remains grassy and floral. The body is light. The taste has also lightened some, and retains the grassy and floral notes. There is a light sweetness in this infusion that is very pleasant. The aftertaste is grassy and floral, and the flowery essence continues to be very pleasant.

Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea Infused Leaves
Organic Jaksul Chut Mool Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. Some leaves are slightly lighter than others, perhaps the difference between the first flush leaves and second flush leaves. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. The leaves have a soft, silky feel, but are not as delicate as I expected. These leaves may still have an infusion or two of aroma and taste left in them. The aroma has scents of fresh cut wet grass, wet wood, and a very light floral hint.

As compared to my previous review of the Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea, which consisted entirely of first flush (sejak) leaves, I am leaning toward preferring this Jaksul Chut Mool, with the blend of first flush and second flush (Joongjak) leaves. This Jaksul Chut Mool had a fuller, more robust aroma and taste, and I also feel that it held it’s strength in aroma and taste through three infusions slightly better than the Gamnong. The Gamnong also had more umami to the first infusion than this Chut Mool. I do not care for umami the way that many tea enthusiasts do, so the lack of umami in the Chut Mool is not a problem for me. One characteristic of the Chut Mool that stood out to me was the strength and linger time of the flowery essence that was left on the breath. The flowery essence that a tea leaves is something that I enjoy immensely, and a strong and lasting linger will always result in a better review from this enthusiast. This Jaksul Chut Mool had a great flowery essence, and a long lasting linger. I was also impressed by the retention of the taste strength from first to third infusion. I really enjoyed this green tea.

Thanks to Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estate for providing the sample. I think the Huang Cha will get the next review. Cheers!

Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea from Hankook Tea

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…

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Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea Dry Leaves

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.

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Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea 1st Infusion

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.

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Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea 2nd Infusion

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.

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Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea 3rd Infusion

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.

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Jaksul Gamnong Green Tea Infused Leaves

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!

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.