Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Myung Won "Hadong Green Tea"

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After receiving this tea as a gift at the COEX Tea World Festival from Myung Won's booth, I was very excited to get home and try it. The chairwoman of the company is holder of Korea's Intangible Cultural Asset Number 27 for the Royal Court Tea Ceremony, and has been recognized with the Ok-Gwan (Jade) Order of Cultural Merit from the Korean Government.

The box was divided into two small packages, one with 20g of "녹차 Green Tea", and the other 20g of "홍차 Black Tea". I found the simplicity of the names a bit puzzling since, traditionally, Korean green tea is known as 작설차 (Jakseol Cha/Sparrow's Tongue tea) and is then divided into 우전 (Ujeon), 세작 (Sejak), and 중작 (Jungjak) for the first, second, and third flushes.

The second sign that I may have overestimated this tea was the leaves themselves. Though a bold, sweet fragrance emerged when I cut open the foil pack, reminiscent of strawberry jam, the elegantly curled leaves, beautiful to look at, had many bright green leaves mixed in. In other respected teas from the area, these would have been painstakingly removed during the roasting and drying process.

The steeped leaves had a full balance of sweet and tart that eventually faded into a piney astringency. The aftertaste was rich and a burst of sweetness on the tongue left a pleasurable final impression. The finished leaves varied widely in size, but most closely resembled a Jungjak harvest.

Somewhere between my initial great expectations and subsequent skepticism after inspecting the packaging and leaves, this tea ended up being very delightful. Though it lacked the subtlety of the highest quality Hadong teas, it is still a much appreciated gift that I will enjoy 'till the end.

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