Sunday, January 15, 2017

Jeong Jae Yeun: Hwangcha Halmeoni - Grandmother Hwagcha

 Jeong Jae Yeun "Hwangcha Halmeoni"
This post has been long in coming.  In May 2014 we returned from Tea Tour Korea where we had the pleasure of meeting again the artisan tea producer Jeong Jae Yeun.  Our tour took us to many artisan tea producers, at most stops we asked the simple question, "How did you become interested in producing tea?" Nearly all of their answers began with, "My grandmother made tea."  Well, simply put, Jeong Jae Yeun is the epitome of that tea making grandmother.  She is Hwangcha Halmeoni (할머니 황차). In fact she calls her tea Halmonicha  (할머니)
A closer look at Jeong Jae Yeun and her delicious hwangcha might help us understand both her and this tea better.

It truly is 'Grandmother's' tea - Halmeonicha. When you question her, she explained that she just makes tea like her mother and grandmother before her.  "Back then, we made this tea for medicine." she explained.  Now she makes it for the monks and others who have discovered her.  


"I don't know how to brew tea the right way."  she said.  "The monks tell me, 'You just make it.  We'll brew it'."  All the while she is talking she is cutting watermelon and rice cake for our group.  With this statement she brought out a large metal and well used tea strainer, filled with her tea leaves, and dipped it into a bowl of hot water.  Still her tea was delicious.   "I have a teapot Park Jong Il's father gave me but it seems too much trouble to use." she explained. 
This attitude about brewing tea reminds me of Cho Ui the famous tea monk's statement, "Just make tea and drink it."  Koreans do things naturally and it is difficult to get more natural or direct than this.
When I first introduced Jeong Jae Yeon to the tea world, I had been told that she made her tea "before Buddha's birthday".  That word is out there and must be corrected. In the spring of 2014 I was really concerned because Buddha's Birthday was very early that year.  "Could she make enough tea?" I wondered.  To my surprise, when we arrived after Buddha's Birthday, she was still making her tea. On that tour we discovered she begins making her tea before Buddha's Birthday. Something got "lost in translation".  In any case, it is rare that a tea artisan would make balhyocha before Buddha's Birthday because those leaves are reserved for the finest green teas.  That she continues to make tea after Buddha's Birthday doesn't diminish her teas in any way. Although not all her teas are made before Buddha's Birthday, Jeong Jae Yeun remains the epitome of a Korean grandmother Halmeoni Hwangcha (할머니 황차) and she remains a fantastic tea artisan.  Her teas are delicious - made before or after Buddha's birthday! 
We all should have realized that while she does begin her pick and processing before Buddha's Birthday she wouldn't stop. - actually couldn't stop in a year like 2014 when Buddha's Birthday was celebrated so early.  She would have had a very small production of tea and even a small artisan producer like Jeong Jae Yeun needs more than a few kilo of tea to simply make a living or more likely supplement her income.  
How many other producer even start their production of hwangcha before Buddha's birthday?  Many of the artisan producers we met on our tour were making balhyocha but only after that had made their nokcha and long after Buddha's Birthday. 
I really do enjoy her tea and there are at least three reviews of this tea that support me in this endorsement. One by teadb i.e. James and Denny who are creating some excellent podcasts on tea. Another by Adam Yusko who is doing some great Youtube tea presentations and a third on Steepster posted by Cwyn a wonderful blog on tea.  There may be more. With the exception of, to whom I did  send a small sample for possible review, I had no idea this tea would be reviewed.  Even in the case of TeaDB, I had no idea their response to it.
How does she make the tea?  The process is simple but timing and temperature are intuitive and lie within the producer.  That is the 'secret' even the artisan producers themselves cannot give us.

The tealeaves are picked and spread out to wither under cover protected only from the sun's rays and any strong winds.  After withering for a day or so - the time is critical - the leaves are rolled by a small rolling machine.  I know you wish it were all by hand but rolling is really laborious work and her hands are getting older.  More and more even younger artisan producers are turning to small machines to help them with this phase of production.  If you have ever watched or attempted tea production by hand, you would quickly understand the need for this machine, particularly when the producer gets older or is alone.  The leaves are intact and the quality undiminished. the machine's use does not diminish the quality of the tea only its price.
Then the rolled leaved are spread out on a very clean ondol floor in a room reserved just for her teas.  (She sleeps at home in another building next to her tea making facility.) In that special ondol tea room the tea receives its final blessing. After it is completely dry, it is bulk packed in bags weighing about 350g. Because the tea is bulk packed it comes in packages of between 330g and 365g + or -. I sell it simply as 300g or backage in into 40g bags. 
This is an exceptional tea and has received more reviews than any other tea we sell. So far, we are the only Western source for this delicious Halmonicha. Contact us. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Morning Crane Tea TeaBuy Korea 2016

The Morning Crane Tea TeaBuy Korea 2016

This is our Morning Crane Tea TeaBuyTM 2016.  I hoping this earlier start will get the tea to you much quicker this year.

For those of you who know Korean teas well, you will recognize that I am offering teas from some of the most respected producers in Korea. As of this writing, we have not yet tasted the 2016 teas Korean producers are just beginning to pick the woojeon leaves Spring came early in Korea and it may be possible to have more than one woojeon picking.  April 20 is Gukwoo day, one of Korea's seasonal change days.  Traditionally Woojeon is picked before Gukwoo and Sejak is picked afterGukwoo followed by Jungjak, Daejak and Yipcha.  Some producers will be picking and making Gukwoo tea on April 20 and some Koreans consider it the best.  I haven't listed much Woojeon but it is available from all producers, however because of the possibility of more than one pick I will have to inquire as to the prices.  The balhyochas or oxidized teas may be made from any of the same leaves as the nokchas.  Some producers are offering both small leaf balhyocha, typically made from Sejek leaves and larger leaf balhyocha, typically made from Jungjak or Daejak leaves.  
Following are our TeaBuyTM Korea 2016 offerings.
Morning Crane Tea's TeaBuyTM Korea 2016 
Nokcha = Green Tea                          Balhyocha = Oxidized Tea
Cooperative Tea
Dong Cheon Tea
             Muwi Sejak                     50g               $25.00

               Sejak                              50g               $20.00

               Jungjak                           50g               $15.00

              Daejak                             50g               $10.00

              Yipcha                             50g                 $6.00

Artisan Tea
Jeong Jae Yeon
(ban balhyocha - hwangcha - Korean yellow tea)

                    Halmonicha                     40g               $16.00
Halmonicha is also available in a 300g+ quantity. Contact us for pricing and details.  

 Dosim Dawan
(nokcha and wan jeon balhyocha - hongcha- red tea)
             Sejak                                50g               $26.00

             Jungjak                            50g               $18.00

             Balhyocha DDSL            50g               $26.00

             Balhyocha DDLL            50g               $12.00
DDSL = Small Leaf  DDLL = Large Leaf

 Yejeon Dawan   
(nokcha and wan jeon balhyocha - hongcha- red tea)
            Sejak                                40g               $22.00

            Balhyocha YD                 40g               $16.00
Soa Dawan
               (nokcha and ban balhyocha - hwangcha- Korean yellow tea)   
            Woojeon                          40g               $28.00

            Gukwoo                           40g               $22.00

            Sejak                                40g               $18.00

            Jungjak                            40g               $12.00

            Balhyocha SD                 40g               $18.00
This artisan tea producer from Boseong is certified organic internationally. 
He also makes magnolia and mugwort teas ask for prices

Yi Ho Yeong 
(nokcha and ban balhyocha - hwangcha- Korean yellow tea)
 approximate weight: bulk packed
       Woojeon                 50g*  $56.00      100g*    $105.00

       Special                   50g*   $39.00      100g*    $  75.00

       Sejak                      50g*   $29.00      100g*    $  56.00

       Jungjak                   50g*  $23.00      100g*     $ 48.00

       Balhyocha YHY    50g*   $20.00      100g*     $ 38.00
Famous tea author Brother Anthony features Yi Ho Yeong in his book. Most of her teas are bulk packed in 100g bags. In some cases I must but 100g and repack into approx. 50g bags   
Inquire about Yi Ho Yeong's various flower teas.

 Kim Jong Yeol
                             (wan jeon balhyocha - hongcha- red tea)
            Balhyo Noeulhangki      50g                $32.00
This is one of the most acclaimed balhyochas in Korea.

Samtae Dawan
Kim Shin Ho
                    (ban balhyocha about 70% oxidized and hongcha fully oxidized)
    BanBalhyo    (W)   80g   $92.00            40g  $47.00

    BanBalhyo     (S)    80g   $58.00           40g  $30.00
    Hongcha       (W)   80g    $46.00           40g  $26.00
    Hongcha        (S)    80g    $45.00            40g  $24.00
             Samtae Dawan specializes in balhyochas they are highly acclaimed.
     These are small leaf balhyochas made with Woojeon (W) and Sejak (S) leaves
Jangguncha Dawan
            Nokcha                          30g                 $40.00

            Balhyocha JD                30g                 $30.00
Is this tea from Gimhae made from Assamica leaves?

 Temple Teas
This is the temple that was the home of ChoUi Korea's great historical Tea Master.  
The tea comes from large older tea bushes.
           Special Nokcha              80g              $100.00

           Special Nokcha              60g                $76.00

           Special Nokcha              40g                $51.00

           Special Nokcha              20g                $26.00

Can't find the tea you seek? Inquire about them.

One might wonder why I offer teas by a "Cooperative" tea company along with artisan and temple teas.  Don't artisan and temple teas have the reputation of being the very best teas one can obtain anywhere?  First, Dong Cheon Teas are not ordinary teas Like all of our teas, they are organically grown.  All of their teas arehand picked and much of it hand produced. As an example of its quality, recently acustomer from Germany was seeking Dong Cheon's Muwi Sejak and Sejak andafter a search discovered me. I had only Sejak and Yipcha in stock. Yipcha you will note is Dong Cheon's lowest priced tea and our lowest priced tea as well.  After receiving and tasting these teas he wrote.
I just want to say: Thank you - for selling me from your stock and especially for the gift! I will try the “black” teas later.  So far I tried the Yip Cha and the Sejak. The Yip Cha is really wonderful: the smell of the dry leaves in the hot teapot! And the “texture” of the tea in the mouth! If I compare with other “tests” I made in the last months with Korean Tea, the result is clear: there is something special about the Dong Cheon tea, it feels, as if they have more “life” in themselves.
Best Regards
In another incident, on our last night in Seoul we went to visit our good friend Ha Il Nam, president of Dong Cheon Tea, at his teashop in Insadong. Sitting with him, by chance, was Moonyum the director of Temple Stays at Geumsunsa the beautifulBuddhist temple high in the mountains outside of Seoul.  (I highly recommend a temple stay there.) Moonyum was there to order teas for the temple and informed me that they buy all of  their temple teas from Dong Cheon Tea. Realizing that they could select teas from any producer including artisan and temples, I took this as a strong endorsement for Dong Cheon Teas.
Note: I am not offering Ttokcha this year but I will source it for you. If you purchase at least $50.00 of other teas, I'll source ttokcha at my cost.  Jangguncha, and Daeheungsa prices reflect very little profit.  I try to do that because my work is educational. You know that I must pay my associate for his help in obtaining these teas.  Never the less, I price my teas at or below wholesale prices for retail customers and lower than that for the retail outlets who offer some of these teas.  That said, we have a price list, on request, that includes slightly lower prices for larger purchases on some of these teas. Most of these prices are already as low as I can go. Request Price List. Please ask about specific teas as most of these teas are priced as low as I can.
We are researching teas produced at the many Buddhist temples across Korea.  While we know of a number of temples that produce tea, if you have recommendations for Korean temple teas you have heard of or tried, please let us know.  Contact us.
Please visit our website.  It attempts to bring together much of our work promoting Korean arts and culture principally through tea, ceramics and tours.  We can now offer tours throughout Korea that will take you to most of the places you want to goon your schedule and at remarkably low prices. Contact me.  I have had several requests this year, and some of our guests are in Korea now.
Because of an ongoing very minor but annoying health condition, I was not able to form a Tea Tour 2016 this year. My apologies to those who hoped to be on it.  Weare developing Tea Tour Korea 2017.  It is not too early to get your name on that list.  It will be limited to just 8 participants and some spots are already reserved.     
Thank you for your interest in Morning Crane Tea and the educational work we are attempting. I hope to have TeawareBuy 2016 soon.  Sorry it is simply too much work to combine both a tea and a teaware buy.  I hope to have teas ordered through TeaBuyTM Korea 2016 to you by the end of May.  That goal can be reached if we get at least 10 participants.  So tell your tea friends. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
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PS: If you are interested in a balhyocha "flight" purchase of 1/2 bags of all balhyochas or a select group of at least 5 of them contact me.  A small bagging fee will be added to the "flight" price.  This offer is for balhyochas only at this time.
PPS: If you are interested in a 500g or 1000g purchase of any of these teas contactme. Depending on the tea, I may be able to offer a slightly lower price.
**Note: I am checking on the exact type of balhyocha made by all tea companies. Click here to learn more about Korean balhyochas. 
*Note: I made no profit on TeaBuyTM Korea 2015 and have been called foolish for attempting it again. If you would like to donate to my work, PayPal donations to my email are graciously accepted.