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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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea from Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estate

If you have not yet had an opportunity to taste South Korean teas, I highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible. Whether your preference for green teas lies in the Chinese styles or Japanese styles, the South Korean green teas fit somewhere in between its two neighboring styles. It may just be the perfect bridge between the Chinese and Japanese styles, offering both a touch of the savory, umami-like character of Japanese teas, with a nutty, buttery taste of Chinese teas. The South Korean green teas have something to offer for all palates. Check out Hankook Tea for their fresh 2017 harvests of green teas, including the Ujeon Gamro and Gamnong Jaksul. They also offer an excellent powdered green tea, which they call “Malcha”, made from their Gamnong Jaksul.

Today’s review has nothing to do with South Korean green teas, however. Today is focusing on a partially oxidized, South Korean oolong tea from Hankook Tea, the Hwang Cha Gold from the Honam Tea Estate’s April 2016 Sejak (1st Flush) harvest. The 2017 product is not yet available.

UPDATE: Hankook Tea was quick to provide in the comments below additional information on the processing of this tea. They said:

“The oxidation level is between 60-70%, so it is definitely closer to a black tea. The processing is a bit different than an oolong in that the leaves aren’t dried on open racks, but rather inside a large linen cloth. The humidity and heat inside the cloth causes a natural oxidation in the leaves.”

Thank you to Hankook Tea for the additional information, and for the quick response. I always enjoy learning the specific processing details of the teas that I review. The above description certainly adds another unique detail to this tea.

You can purchase a canister with 80 grams of the Hwang Cha Gold from Hankook Tea for USD $39.99 plus shipping.

Let’s get to the review…

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark chocolate brown color. The leaves consist of medium to large size fragments, with a few bare stems in the mix, and no obvious tips or buds. The leaves are hand picked, and machine rolled. They break easily into small crumbs. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, lightly charred wood, dried fruit (raisins), and a touch of licorice.

Dry leaves were placed in a cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has an amber color. The aroma has scents of dry wood, dark chocolate, light apple, a touch of spice, and a general roasty character. The body is on the heavier side of medium, with a smooth, clean texture, and gives a peppery sensation on the sides of the tongue. The taste has notes of dark chocolate, dry wood (most similar to pine), fresh ground black pepper, a touch of granny smith green apple, and an acidity similar to lemon. The aftertaste carries a sweet, chocolaty character.

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform color of dark brown. The leaves consist of mostly medium and a few larger fragments. There are a few bare stems, and no obvious buds or tips in the mix. The leaves are delicate, soft, and easy to tear, as first flush leaves usually are. The oxidation level is quite high, giving the leaves a color and appearance similar to most black teas. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, wood, a touch of apple, and a general roasty character.

The most unique characteristic of the Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea was the peppery sensation that hit the tongue, which was followed by a lemon-like acidity. The dominant dark chocolate scent of the dry leaves is very attractive. The fruity aspect of this tea took a while to identify as green apple, as it was quite subtle. Overall, this tea has a very unique set of characteristics, and is certainly different than any other oolongs I have had. It had many similarities to a lighter black tea, and yet had the sweetness of an oolong. I would be interested to know what the oxidation percentage is on this tea. If anyone from Hankook Tea happens to read this post, perhaps you can use the comment section to inform us of the oxidation level.

Another thank you to Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea! I am looking forward to reviewing the Gamnong Jaksul Green Tea in the next week. Cheers!

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!