Thursday, December 27, 2012

Qian Liang Cha • 千兩茶

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Qian Liang Cha, One Thousand 'Liang' Cha • 千兩茶

Since moving to the southern part of Korea a bit over a year ago, I've only had a few chances to drop by Kkik Da Geo, in Seoul. A few weeks ago, we were able to and as soon as we came in, the owner took out a large pot and began preparing us a brew of 60 year old "Cheon Ryang Cha", in Korean, or "Thousand Liang Cha", also referred to as the King of Teas.

One 'liang' is the equivalent of 3.75 grams and the name of the tea refers to the method of packing the tea into large cylinders. They made for easier transportation when they were once carried by mules or horses through trade routes across the country. Since transportation is much easier now, this form of tea has mostly faded out, so it is becoming increasingly rare nowadays. If you do come across some, chances are that it's at least 50 years old.

The tea liquor is a dark reddish brown, yet noticeably translucent for a 60 year old 'dark tea' (Hei Cha, 黑茶). The aroma is warm and slightly metallic, ringing the insides of your nostrils. The flavour is very clean and nutty, like the sent of roasted walnut shells.

It wasn't long before the cha qi, 'tea energy', was rushing through my body, making me warm on one of the first really cold days of the season, and a little tea drunk, too... It was a nice welcome after a long absence.

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