Guide to Korean Tea

Korean tea is not the most popular tea in the world. Still, the tradition of making and consuming Korean tea goes back centuries. In fact, some research even says that the presence of Korean tea was already in the Korean Peninsula as early as the 2nd century. Nevertheless, the tradition of Korean tea floundered, flourished, and was able to revive several times throughout Korea’s history. In this article, we are going to talk all about Korean tea.

Korean teas – Black and Green

Korea is known for its green tea. Despite several years of Japanese influence and reliance on the Japanese method of cultivating tea farms, Korean green teas are commonly roasted, a process which is similar to the Chinese way. Cooking green tea is a step wherein it stops the oxidation of the drink. After they roast the tea, they will have to roll it by hand or machine, let it dry, and some tea manufacturers cook the tea even further.

On the other hand, most tea companies have expanded into fully oxidized tea. Still, Korean black tea is quite delicate when it comes to the procedure of creating it, even by Asian standards. Korean tea farmers sometimes age their black teas, which have rather exciting results.

Korean Tea Names

Korean tea names depend on the consecutive tea plant flushes, and each of the pickings makes a distinct type of tea. The most valuable is the first flush, which is called the Woojeon, it is the tea that is commonly picked before the 20th of April. But, this is not always the case because there could be some unusual winters where it can push the tea plant’s cycle back or bring it forward. Nevertheless, these are some key names of Korean teas:

  • Woojeon – As we mentioned, this is the first flush tea. This tea only consists of the top bud. This is commonly picked before Gokwoo or the 20th of April.
  • Sejak –  This is a second flush tea, and it is most likely to have one bud with two leaves. Sejak is picked after Gokwoo and before the Korean Lunar Calendar date of 5-6 May.
  • Jungjak- This is a third flush tea, and it often has three leaves of the tea plant. Jungjak is commonly picked during May.
  • Daejak – This is the final flush tea, and it is commonly called as the lowest grade tea. Daejak tea is made of leaves and stems of the tea plant, and it is typically picked between May and June.

This grading system, when it comes to picking tea, has been explicitly invented for Korean green tea. Still, today, it is also being applied to Korean black tea.

But what comes after Daejak? Well, not very much. Compared to other tea producing countries who harvest their tea up until autumn, Korean tea farmers often end their tea harvest at the end of May. They simply cut their tea plants below the flush and leave it to recover.

Korean Tea Growing Regions

Today, there are two major tea growing regions in Korea. The biggest tea farms can be found in Boseong in the Jelloanam-do province, which is near the Nokcha-Ro or Green Tea Road. Most tea producers in this region have expanded their business by offering tours in their tea field as well as lodging. They also provide a wide array of related tea products such as green tea toothpaste and tea-filled chocolates.

Other Korean tea farms can be found in the Hadong area of the Gyeongsangnam-do region, which is located near the Jiri Mountains. In this region, you will be able to see a collection of villages which is home to about 200 artisan tea producers. If you happen to travel here, you will notice that their take on Korean tea is quite different compared to the others. This is because every tea manufacturer in this region relies on the experience and judgment of a tea master. Interestingly enough, the analysis of tea masters does not apply the same process to production.