Nepal: The Underdog of Tea

By Courtney Van Evera

When in Nepal, there are two things you need to know how to say:

Namaste: “The spirit in me greets the spirit in you.”

Chiya khayau: “Did you drink tea?”Nepali teahouse

If you say yes, you will end up drinking a great deal of the country’s universal beverage: Kalo Chia (Nepali chai). The tea consists of sugar, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, yak milk, and most likely a CTC black tea from the Terai, or lowlands, region of Nepal. CTC is a type of black tea that is cut, torn, and curled. When it is sold after production, instead of resembling the original tea leaves, it looks more like gunpowder. CTC tea can be steeped for a longer period of time without becoming astringent, and for this reason is used in chai blends.

Tea Picker NepalWhen I arrived in Nepal in 2012 on a cross-cultural mentoring trip, I already knew I would miss daily occurrences: the colorful silk Punjabi’s worn by Nepali women, the dirt path to the adopted children’s home, the stray dogs, goats, and cows that frequented the streets, and chai tea three times a day. The Nepali teens I was working with were happy to share this custom for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, as we sifted through ideas on marriage, school, and faith.

Today, Nepal is a new and unique source of fine, loose leaf teas because the Himalayan tea growing region is emerging from the shadows of its neighbor Darjeeling. For most of its history, the finest teas grown in Nepal have been sold across the border in India under the guise of the more famous Darjeeling tea. Now, with a little marketing help, Nepal is establishing itself in the more expensive orthodox tea market because the excellent terroir, age of plants and a dormancy cycle that produces some uncommonly delicious flavors.     

ilamTeaPlantation NepalThe Nepali Tea Traders company was formed in 2012 as a social enterprise with a vision centered around recognition of high-quality Nepali tea, organic practices, and social betterment and education of the Nepali people. The tea-growing region of Nepal lies between 4,000 and 8,000 ft., where the tea bushes develop slowly, allowing for complex flavors to develop. The relatively young age of Nepali tea bushes also contributes to unique and subtle flavors after being handpicked. Because Nepali teas are harvested only four times a year, as compared to 6 times in most Indian regions, tea plants are further able to develop in composition and flavor. Some preliminary studies speculate that Nepali teas have the highest levels of antioxidants and theanine because of the plants ability to increase these compounds while recuperating in the dormant cycles, followed by a growing season in well drained, nutrient rich soils.  

map-nepal TeaNepali tea plantations are slowly receiving organic certification, aided by companies like Nepali Tea Traders who are committed to preserving quality in Nepali tea. There are very few high elevation tea plantations that use pesticides or chemicals, but it can be pricey to realize this certification. Factories do not typically have enough money for certification themselves, nor the guarantee of electricity or internet. Further challenges to daily business life are due to the 2015 earthquake and a political situation that has not resolved itself since the royal family was killed in 2001. Rising above these hindrances, Nepali tea businesses have an extraordinary commitment to the art and production of tea and we are happy to support them in establishing their name in the market.  Simply put, Nepali tea is delicious, here are some of our favorites.

Pokhara Nepali Green Tea: Grown in the high mountains of Nepal, an area most known for marketing teas as “Darjeeling”, the tea growers here are now finding their own niche. Reputedly, an area to have never seen man-made pesticides, this tea is grown in a remote area around 12,000 feet in elevation. Pokhara green tea is produced similarly to many Chinese greens, while the unique soil and growing conditions set it apart. The initial flavors are roasted and toasty, which then give way to a sweeter, mineral, rich linger.

Nepal Himalayan Gold: Grown at high elevation in the Himalayan Mountains, this tea is composed of beautifully spiraled young growth. The flavor transcends the norms of tea grown in this type of terroir. It has an initial note of deep malt that transitions to squash and chocolate, finishing with a classic sweet linger often associated with Darjeeling. This makes for a wonderfully nuanced cup of tea.  

Nepal Honeysuckle Green Tea: Harvested in what the Chinese refer to as “Ming Chein” or before the rains, this is the earliest cultivation for tea and the most sought after by connoisseurs across the globe. The tender plucking is extremely aromatic and yields a mild vegetal flavor that has a mineral rich taste which gives way to a sweet linger. The availability of this tea extremely limited availability, we recommend enjoying it while you can.

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One Plant, Many Teas – Thanks to China

By Courtney Van Evera

If all tea comes from the same plant, how can it yield so many different flavors, shapes, and colors? For answers, we look to the birthplace of tea, China.

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All types of tea come from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. There are different varieties and cultivars of tea plants; cultivars are tea plants, typically hybrids, that are tended for specific outcomes such us flavor, drought or pest resistance or yield. Terroir or the environmental conditions  (ex. climate, environment, soil-type, elevation) surrounding these tea gardens are partly responsible for the flavor variances across different teas. The other player in tea flavor is the production process, particularly oxidation level, which is what separates the white, green, oolong, black, and dark teas.

To see how the production process varies the flavor of tea, let’s examine a Chinese variety from each of the five tea categories:

 

Jasmine Silver Needle White Tea –  Young downy tea buds are infused with a soft touch of jasmine. All the appeal and softly sweet nuances of a classic Silver Needle tea, enhanced with the aroma of night-blooming jasmine flowers. The quiet nature of this tea ensures enjoyment.

  1. Picking – White tea is usually picked in early spring, in particular either exclusively bud or in bud and leaf combinations.

  2. Withering – After tea is plucked, it’s left to dry for 26 to 35 hours depending on the variety. A little oxidation may occur during this step, but the key feature of white tea is that the enzymes are never activated.
  1. Tea leaves are infused with jasmine scent as the flowers open. This usually happens during the summer, after the flowers are harvested.
  1. Sorting – separating the good, bad, and ugly tea leaves for selling and consumption!

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China Dragonwell “Long Jing” Tea – Grown near the famed West Lake in Hangzhou, Dragonwell has been honored since the Tang Dynasty. The leaves are hand roasted in small woks. Using precise hand movements to press the tea on the side of the wok, the leaves gain a flat, shiny, jade appearance. The aroma is rich and nutty, reminiscent of roasted chestnuts with a smooth, vegetal, earthy flavor.

  1. Picking – Depending on the variety, tea pickers are required to gather different bud and leaf combinations.
  2. Withering – Oxidation begins as chemical compounds in the tea leaves react with oxygen as they dry outside.
  1. Heating – Tea leaves are heated to deactivate the enzymes that begin oxidation reactions, thus ending oxidation.
  1. Shaping – Dragonwell tea is flattened against the side of a wok, and its cell walls are broken down to further oxidation.
  1. Drying – Ends oxidation and aromatic oils become preserved in the leaves.
  2. Sifting – Getting rid of broken leaves for selling and consumption.

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China Huang Zhi Xiang “Fragrant Yellow Sprig” Dan Cong Oolong – There are several varieties of Dan Cong oolongs. While the Chinese name more directly translates as “Emperor’s Yellow Twig Fragrant,” we’ve simplified its translation for ease of pronunciation. The aroma is thick and perfume-y, with notes of stone fruit. The liquor has a thick and viscous mouth-feel with wonderful fruit flavors, reminiscent of grilled peach and honeysuckle.

  1. Picking – Mature leaves are picked for oolong tea from Phoenix Mountain, which is 1000 meters in altitude. The leaves are picked from trees as opposed to bushes.
  1. Withering
  2. Oxidation – Process begun by stirring by hand or being turned in mechanical cylinders.
  3. Shaping – Tea leaves are rolled, curled, or twisted.
  4. Drying and firing – Intense heat removes moisture and can also give leaves a lightly smokey taste and aroma.

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China Golden Monkey Black Tea –  The tea term “monkey” in China refers to the fuzzy, golden down on the leaves. The beautifully twisted golden leaves are almost as wonderful to look at as to taste. The golden down provides texture and smoothness to the brew. The flavor is uplifting; it is a full bodied brew with honey sweetness and a very pleasant aftertaste. Golden Monkey is also known as “Panyong Wang,” the king of high grade black teas.

  1. Picking – Black teas are picked several times during the year.
  2. Withering
  3. Shaping
  4. Oxidation – Black teas are fully oxidized!
  5. Drying
  6. Sorting, sifting
  7. Optional firing

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China Jinggu Sheng 2008 Pu’er Tea – Harvested from ancient tea trees in what is considered the birthplace of tea, this pu’er is a rare treat. Beautiful large but tender leaves indicate younger growth from an older tree. This combination of age and youth is ideal for high end pu’er; the tea has a deep, complex character while staying delicate. Quality raw pu’er has bitterness in the initial sip that transitions to sweetness. The liquor is orange in color and is quite transparent. This is a result of the cake being aged long enough for the tannin to break down, a benefit of aging tea. We recommend re-brewing the leaves 10 times or more starting with a short 10-15 second steep time.

  1. Picking – Tea leaves used for pu’er tea production are those of the C. sinensis sinensis species.
  2. Withering
  3. Fixation – Called Sha qing, or kill green, in Chinese. The tea leaves are kept at a low temperature to maintain needed enzymes that will later cause fermentation.
  1. Fermentation – There are two options! See below!
  2. Shaping
  3. Aging –  the fermentation process continues as the tea is usually wrapped in special paper (made of mulberry tree bark) which allows gasses to escape while protecting the tea from contaminants. The fermentation process can continue for another 50 years if environmental conditions allow.

From the fermentation stage, pu’er tea falls into one of two categories: sheng or shou. Microorganisms ferment the sheng tea as it ages for 10 to 50 years, where the fermentation of the shou tea is accelerated by a cooking process.

This is merely a starting point for your own discovery of all the variances of Chinese tea. Happy Lucky’s is up to the challenge of keeping you learning!

References

Foundations of Tea: Level Two, Specialty Tea Institute: 2010.

Gascony, Marchand, Desharnas, & Americi (2011). Tea: History Terroirs Varieties, Firefly Books Ltd: Quebec

https://www.jiangtea.com/dancong-oolong-tea/feng-huang-dancong-tea/#.WMbdZFcw2lI

http://walkerteareview.com/dialog-understanding-authentic-dan-cong/

https://www.worldoftea.org/jingmai-puer-making/

 

 

  

 

The Darling of Darjeeling

By Courtney Van Evera

Before the plucking of Darjeeling teas even begins, the Glenburn Tea Estate celebrates.  Glenburn Day honors the local community surrounding and within the estate and it is imperative to the tea production process.  Events included speeches, dancing, singing, and a soccer tournament, showcasing aspects of Nepali and Indian culture. Placing extraordinary value on community engagement, it’s no wonder Happy Lucky’s has close ties with the Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India.

Similar to Assam’s story, the Darjeeling region of India, nestled between the Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim kingdoms of old, came under British control through military intervention in the early 1800’s. Nepal was about to take over the kingdom of Sikkim, and the British stepped in. Through multiple negotiations, the British acquired the deed for the land of Darjeeling from the Rajah of Sikkim. Remember the Camellia sinensis sinensis seeds from China that failed in Assam? Some of the better stock made it to Darjeeling, where it was carefully cultivated starting in 1860 with experimental gardens.

Although the British desired the Darjeeling area for reasons unrelated to tea, it turned out to be the perfect place for cultivating it. There are 5 to 6 hours of sun each day, with 180 days of sun each year: perfect for tea as some protection from the sun is ideal. Mountain mist also helps this cause. Darjeeling has an idyllic heavy rain season each year, and the slope of the mountain sides yield natural drainage. The soil is nearly perfect for growing tea because it is slightly acidic, contains organic material from forests, and includes a helpful proportion of clay. At a high elevation, the buds of the tea plant grow slowly, so that flavors are able to fully develop and intensify. As a finishing touch, cold air from the Himalayas expels surplus moisture which results in a clarity of flavor.

From here, Sujoy Sengupta, a Darjeeling tea producer, sums it up when he says, “Plucking can only be done by hand” and “judging fermentation can only be done by the nose (taken from Koehler, 2015).” There are no amateurs in the production of Darjeeling tea.

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How has Darjeeling tea infiltrated the world market, with large consumption in Germany, Japan, France, North America, China, and Iran? Apart from a remarkable product in taste due to terroir and production, the answer is community.

Once India gained its independence from Great Britain in 1947, almost all Darjeeling tea estate ownership was handed over to Indian tea growers or product suppliers, as European owners returned to their homes. When Indian people took control of tea estates or migrated to Darjeeling to apprentice tea cultivation and production, they tended to stay for generations, building a passion for the native land. Darjeeling tea estate administrators have recently caught onto this phenomenon of creating culture, passion, and pride in the tea traditions and innovations of Darjeeling. This community is what top tier tea experts believe will propel Darjeeling tea to lead the global economy of the future.    

Available at Happy Lucky’s are six Glenburn Darjeelings:

Glenburn First Flush Darjeeling Black Tea: First Flush refers to the first picking season in early spring. A stylishly made tea with an abundance of silver tips. The liquor is light and bright, smooth on the palate with undertones of citrus and grape. Full of aroma, it exemplifies all the attributes of a fine Darjeeling First Flush tea.

Glenburn Second Flush Darjeeling Black Tea: Plucked in the early summer months of May and June, this stylishly rolled leaf is made from select shoots that draw their succulence from the late spring showers. The leaves have matured a bit from the first flush, giving the tea more complexity. The liquor is a clear amber, while remaining full-bodied with a flowery nose. It has a complex layer of maltiness with nutty undertones.

Glenburn Monsoon Season Black Tea: Monsoon Flush is a bit hardier and more full bodied than first or second flush. It is harvested in late summer, from July to September. The leaf color has darkened as well as the brew it yields. The taste is bolder and more robust than the earlier plucks, with the malty notes being more up front.

Glenburn Autumn Crescendo: Glenburn Autumn Cresendo is the last tea plucked for black tea production in the season. Harvested in November from select clonal fields, the brew has a coppery color said to be reminiscent of the sun on the snows of Mount Kanchenjunga, the shadow of which it’s made. The flavor is full-bodied yet mellow, with a long lasting finish, both malty and floral.

Glenburn Silver Needle White Tea: This rare White Tea is harvested in midsummer, when the silvery green buds are about to unfold. Picked by only the most experienced hands to preserve the fuzzy “down” on the buds. The flavor is light and floral with a honey-like texture. This tea is exquisite any time of the day or night.

Glenburn Autumn Oolong: Glenburn Autumn Oolong is an exceptional twisted leaf or strip style oolong. In Darjeeling, India, the most commonly produced tea style is black, and an oolong like this is much more of a rarity. Harvested in October, the flavor of this tea is quite reminiscent of stone fruits, with that signature Darjeeling muscatel like natural sweetness that lingers.

It’s always a good time to celebrate Glenburn Day!

 

How The Indian Tea Market Was Born

By Courtney Van Evera

In 1788, a Dutch botanist named Joseph Banks, wrote “You know, the Assam region of India has perfect conditions for growing tea.” Unfortunately, he was ignored.

But, thankfully, his words weren’t ignored forever.

The difference between Camellia sinensis assamica and Camellia sinensis sinensis is that the former is indigenous to the Assam region of India, and the latter are native to China.  C. sinensis assamica has big leaves and grows robustly in the humid, sea-level climate of Assam. The tea is known for it’s marked flavor, strong and full, with notes of chocolate, caramel, malt and pepper, depending on the cultivar. When Assam teas undergo unorthodox production by machine rather than by hand, the brew has less risk of astringency, and the result leads to tasty chai blends! Assam Tea Leaf

So, who finally decided to listen to Joseph Banks about the tea growing potential of Assam?

Two Scottish brothers, Robert and Charles Bruce, who were like the Indiana Jones of their day when they decided to seek adventure by way of military exploits: Robert via the army and Charles via the navy. This sent the elder brother, Robert, to the Assam region of India in 1823, as it had  been overtaken by an oppressive Burmese ruler and the British thought it an opportune  time to colonize. In 1823, no one from Europe was “authorized” to be in India except for the East India Company and military personnel. While in military service, Robert explored as much of northeast Assam as he could and engaged in trade along the way. While in Sibsagar in northeast Assam, a local Singpho tribal chief told Robert about the wild tea trees in their midst. Before he could investigate, Robert Bruce died.

The story does not end there! Robert’s younger brother, Charles, also found himself in Assam, commanding gunboats to fight the Burmese. Before his death Robert had successfully relayed the  new tea information to Charles and in 1825 he gathered samples of native Assam tea, sending them to scientists at the botanical garden in Calcutta – but no one cared. Those involved with the tea industry thought Indian tea to be inferior to Chinese tea. Scientists also tried to cultivate Chinese tea plants in Assam, which failed astoundingly.

Finally Britain’s Tea Committee, while searching for sources for tea outside China, decided to see if C. sinensis assamica could produce commercial amounts of tea and they appointed Charles Bruce to head the endeavor. His official title: Superintendent of Tea. This time, it worked! With the help of Chinese tea makers, Bruce produced eight chests of tea which withstood the perilous sojourn down river to the botanists in Calcutta. From there, the tea sailed to London, where it was sold for a handsome return. Thus, in 1839, the Indian tea market was born. Eventually, Assam tea would become a key ingredient in English, Irish, and Scottish breakfast tea.

At Happy Lucky’s we treasure our three teas which stem from C. sinensis var.assamica. Grab a cup of any of these exceptional Assams and toast to the Bruce brothers from Scotland!

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Indian Assam CTC  Black Tea , a classic unorthodox production tea, organically produced and Fair Trade Certified. The flavors are bold and warming, with hints of chocolate and black pepper. Unorthodox teas, while having astringency, are typically not as sensitive to over brewing, making them a very popular choice for blending, most notably used in masala chai.

 

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India Khongea Second Flush Assam Black Tea, picked in the months of May and June, is a high quality second flush. Harvesting a specific variety of P126 clonal tea plants produces a large proportion of beautiful golden tips. The liquor is golden in color with malty and spicy flavor notes which come through well when adding milk. This tea makes a great breakfast tea.

 

In-MaltyAssam__75015.1367960503.1280.1280India Malty Assam Black Tea renowned for its full flavor and rich, malty aroma. The Assam region is the largest tea producing region in the world and home to some of India’s best black teas. The varietal Camellia assamica has a larger leaf than its Chinese counterpart. The brew is bold and malty with a slight caramel sweetness.

 

 

The Great Taiwan Tea Competition

by Courtney Van Evera

Solar withering, indoor withering, kill green, stem removal, and roasting are the names of the different parts of the Taiwanese oolong tea production process. Colossal amounts of care and precision ensure the timing and degree of oxidation throughout this process. When are the stakes the highest? At the Taiwan tea competitions.

The tiny island nation of Taiwan manages to produce and drink more tea than it exports. Taking their tea seriously, it’s no wonder a competition eventually developed to bring out the top tier. In 1976, the first official competition took place in the LuGu township, which is the home of the Tung Ting cultivar. Many cultivar locations in Taiwan have their own tea competitions that compare a singular type of tea against itself. The historical LuGu Tea Competition is arguably the most prestigious, a look at this model offers a unique look into  the rigorous Taiwanese tea competitions that produce some of the world’s most delicious and valuable Oolongs.  

Seven thousand tea vendors enter the competition, held once in winter and once in spring.  Identifying marks of the tea estate are not allowed: this competition is blind. Each entry submits 22 jins of Tung Ting oolong (1 jin = 1.1 pound): one jin is judged by officials, one jin is tasted by consumers, and the rest is auctioned off!

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During the judging, a teaspoon is put into a 5 oz. ceramic pot and steeped for 6 minutes. Thirty  teas are surveyed at one time. The judges are certified by the Tea and Research Extension Station after graduating from a tea evaluation course. They use the following categories:

  1. Appearance of dry leaf: 10%

This portion is where the evidence of the careful production process lies. The judges will note the shape of the leaf to determine  whether it was capably plucked, dried, and rolled. They will carefully observe the color of the dry leaf,  an indicator of the skill over the withering and oxidation components of the production process.  

2. Appearance of brewed tea liquor: 10%

The liquor should be a lustrous and transparent gold.

3. Aroma of Brewed Tea Leaves: 30%

This aroma should be a precise hint of how the Tung Ting Oolong will taste: botanic and buttery.

4. Taste, Aroma, Character of Brewed Tea: 40%

In assessing the taste and aroma of Tung Ting Oolong, judges will seek characteristic floral notes linked by buttery undertones, and note any dissenting flavors.

5.Appearance of Brewed Tea Leaves: 10%

The last sight of the tea leaves indicates the very first step of making tea: the growth and cultivated quality of the leaves. When Tung Ting Oolong leaves become unrolled after steeping, quality leaves will be full and unbroken.

The LuGu Tea Competition has one champion. The tea champion does not get a cash prize but rather a hefty starting value for the bidding of his or her tea, which sells for about 8,000 USD per kilo at the end!  After the champion, the judges award 1st through 10th place, then the top class, second class, and third class of Tung Ting oolong with about 200, 300, and 500 entries respectively. Following those, there are the 3 Plum Blossom, 2 Plum Blossom, and 1 Plum Blossom awards bestowed among 3,500 entries.

A variety of extraordinary Taiwanese Oolong Teas occupy the Great Wall of Tea at Happy Lucky’s Teahouse.

Our Tung Ting Oolong stays true to the boast-worthy and slightly sweet flavor desired during the Tung Ting Taiwanese Tea Competition. The leaves, rolled during the oxidation process into tiny pearls, slowly unfurl with each steeping as they release flavor!

Our Wenshan Baozhong is cultivated on another mountain peak in Taiwan, and is famous for twisting and paper wrapping during the production process. The sweet, floral flavors exude in expanding degrees, while the tea leaves untwist as they steep.

Our Bamboo Mountain is made from newly sprouted leaves, withered in the sun on bamboo trays, then rolled in classic oolong style yielding a lighter body than roasted oolongs.  It has a long, sweet finish and a multi-layered character over multiple infusions.

By tasting a variety of oolongs, you can get a sense of what it might be like to develop the discerning palate of a Taiwanese Tea competition judge!

A Cycle of Loss and Rediscovery: A Look Into Korea’s Tea History

By Andy Boone

When did tea first integrate into Korean culture? Ancient texts date back 5,000 years mentioning PaeksanCha or “White Mountain Tea, ” but the widely accepted story is that Indian Princess Heo Hwang Ok of Ajodhya brought the gift of tea seeds upon her marriage to the King of Gaya in 56 A.D. The princess traveled with the seeds to the most ideal spot for them to grow – the White Mountain – but she found tea already growing there! If tea knowledge was a part of ancient Korean culture it had been lost to time, an unfortunate theme in the cycle of loss and rediscovery that characterizes Korea’s tea history.

Tea culture flourished in Korea around the first century.  Some historical documents indicate that tea offering ceremonies were performed either as a buddhist ritual or as medicine, and predate all other known tea ceremonies of the world.

During the Goyo period (918-1392) tea became particularly popular with nobility and the buddhist monks. Tea ceremonies were a staple of nearly every royal event and festival during this time. The royal court even established DaBhang, a federal agency to oversee tea supply and officiate the elaborate tea ceremonies and poetry readings of the royal court. Many arbors and pavilions were established to host tea parties for court officials. Buddhist temples gave rise to tea villages to supply the temples with tea. This period created artistic teaware popular amongst the nobles and buddhist monks.

Tea has even inspired poets.  Many scholars believe there are more tea poems written in Korean than any other language. Korean tea poetry has influenced the style of tea ceremony, raising the bar of tea delivery and enjoyment to the level of performance art! However, the common man only consumed the libation during celebrations or buddhist rituals.  

Confucianism in the 14th century had a negative impact on tea culture in Korea. Rice wine became the center of attention as Buddhist temples were wiped out. Offerings on ancient altars even made the transition from tea to wine.  Yet the crushing blow came with an invasion from Japanese feudal lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 1590’s. He and his generals were devotees of Japanese tea ceremony and they admired the beauty and craftsmanship of Korea’s teaware, so they rounded up hundreds of Korean potters to take captive to Japan. Under the hardships of war, tea became a luxury awarded to only to Korean aristocrats.

For the first half of the 20th century, Japanese colonial rule suppressed Korean culture and the imposed Japanese tea customs until after World War 2 and the Korean War were over. Only then did Tea culture reemerge in the 1960’s. Tea masters began restoring plantations and teaching the function and art of their ceremonies. Today Korean tea culture and production is re-emerging with exquisite craftsmanship, and experiencing unprecedented levels of popularity and interest.

A Korean Way for Preparing Tea from Cho Hak on Vimeo.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/136887643″>A Korean Way for Preparing Tea</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user28844204″>Cho Hak</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Learn More about Korean Teas


1-Surprising to most scholars, these were of the Camellia sinensis sinensis variety (this variety wasn’t known to be cultivated in India until around the turn of the 19th century), and not the assamica which would have been native to India.

2-powerful Japanese feudal lords

3- This became the foundation of the modern Japanese ceramic industry.

 

 

The Allure of Korean Tea

By Andy Boone

A rare shipment of Korean tea has finally arrived at Happy Lucky’s! Opening the bags for the first time, deep aromas permeate into the nose. The color is a bright emerald, each leaf has been handled with thoughtfulness and care. These teas are exquisite, some of the most dynamic and interesting pure leaf teas to grace The Great Wall of Tea. They retain the deep green and chlorophyll-rich tones of a delicately processed green tea while embodying the warm nuttiness reminiscent of toasted rice found in teas given a hard sear from the wok. The flavors unify deep savory vegetal with a distinct sweet finish, combined into creaminess.
Happy Lucky’s Korean Teas come from semi-wild bushes with deep roots. They are produced by hand with artisanal style. The fresh plucked tea is dunked carefully and quickly into almost boiling water to arrest oxidation. Next they are seared by a master in a wok at temperatures of 800 degrees fahrenheit for about 15 seconds. .

The general idea is that a gentle kill green (oxidation blocking) followed by high temperature flash cooking in the wok allows the deep green and nutty flavors to combine in rare harmony.  By stopping the oxidation so gently, more of the chlorophyll remains vital and the hot wok produces a chemical change in the outer layers of leaf, coaxing out the warm toastiness. Yet the tea is not in the wok long enough to make this change in the inner leaf. The results are remarkable! Embodying the classical qualities of both Chinese and Japanese green teas, yet retaining its own distinct character.

Happy Lucky’s is currently carrying 4 Korean teas. The names for our Korean tea indicate the developmental stage of the leaf.

Sejak is the very young small tender leaves which have just begun to open.

Jungjak is young open leaves,

Daejak are  larger and more mature leafs.

Yipcha is only available in store, but we hope bring to the website soon.

Yipcha is the large fully developed summer plucking. Classically, Yipcha is the complementary tea served in restaurants in Korea. Yet, most Yipcha will not be produced with the same level of care and attention with which ours is crafted. The nature of small farm production displays more seasonal variation in climate than large farms which blend from several bushes to minimize any inconsistencies in flavor.  Micro-productions tend to have different flavors from year to year. Last years Yipcha I would describe in a fairly similar way as our China Dragonwell or our Nepal Pokhara, nutty flavors upfront, then clean vegetal tones that linger with mineral rich honeysuckle sweetness. This years Yipcha hits the palate quite differently. The vegetal flavor carries a savory umami aspect while the nutty flavor seems to awaken more on the finish and hangs out for a bit.

I’m not sure which flavor profile your palate will prefer.  However,  it’s a real treat to taste the variation, I’m  proud we’re able to offer teas of this quality and freshness from such a rare and limited production.

Photo Sep 01, 3 31 55 PMNotes on Brewing
Korean teas are very potent which can be a double edged sword. Tea this vital is rich in many compounds making it more sensitive to becoming astringent or bitter when over-brewed. Make sure your water is not too hot!.  Water temperature in between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit is best.  Use about 1 ¼ teaspoon for every 8oz. of brewed tea made, and steep for just 15-20 seconds. These teas resteep very well, so feel free to repeat this process and add just a few seconds to each subsequent brew. With this technique you should be able to brew the tea 3-5 times.

Learn more on the history of Korean Teas