Thursday, September 18, 2014

Three Exceptional Artisan Korean Tea Producers (Plus)

Whenever I think of Korean teas, which obviously is quite often, a number of excellent tea producers come to mind.  You have heard about some of them such as Jeong Jae Yeun, Yi Ho Yeong  and Daeheungsa the temple where Cho Ui lived or example. I enjoy Jeong Jae Yeun’s artisan hwangcha so much I offer it on a regular basis.  They all produce truly remarkable teas.  
However, for this post I want to introduce you to three exceptional tea producers who also produce really excellent teas and at quite reasonable prices. 
These are not listed in any order in terms of quality or taste as they all produce exceptional teas using organic methods. 

I can’t predict your particular tea taste so I encourage you to compare some of them - or perhaps all in a particular category. Dare I suggest you try more?  If I had the funds or a large number of customers, I would buy kilos of these teas so I could put together sample packs of 20g each including various Woojeon, Sejak, Jungjak and Balhyochas for you to taste.  Or I would develop a Tea Every 2 Months Club that compared two teas of various types.  But alas I haven’t made enough yet on my tea offerings and all of these blogs and Facebook posts are just me (one person) trying to make these teas available.  Here are the tea producers I have selected for this post.  I'll try to develop more in depth posts on each of them later.
Dosim Dawon

Oh Jae Hong son of Oh Si-Young
One of the first tea producers to come to mind is Oh Si-Young owner of Dosim Dawon (Green Tea Farmhouse).  I often think of him and his son Oh Jae Hong both for their truly exceptional teas but also because Oh Si-Young is the owner of Korea’s Millennium Tea Tree. The tree is 4.2 meters high (slightly less than 14 ft.) and 570 centimeters in circumference (slightly more than 18.5 ft.).  That’s a pretty large size for camellia sinensis-sinensis and it is presumed to be at least 1,000 years old.

Korea’s Millennium Tea Tree
Of course the tea you would be getting is not from that tree/bush. Tea made from leaves of Korea’s Millennium Tea Tree sold for $13,000 USD for 100g, not for a kilo.  It did come with a separately made lacquered container and a tea caddy inlaid with mother of pearl as well as a teaspoon decorated with 75 grams of pure gold. Actually in the world of tea, there is a handcrafted teabag that is priced higher but it is studded with diamonds. You didn't need to know that. However, you should know that all of Dosim Dawon teas are from larger old mountain bushes and they are truly exceptional.
These are Hwagae Valley, Jerisan semi wild organically grown teas from larger old mountain bushes.
(Note: These prices are subject to meeting projected shipping costs from Korea and are plus shipping from me to you either from Korea or the USA depending on your location.) Contact me.
Soa Tea

Kim Se Jin owner of Soa Tea
This exceptional tea producer is from Boseong.  We have been pushing Jerisan Tea so much that I don’t want to neglect this truly extraordinary producer from Boesong.  Boseong is Korea’s best known tea area and I consider Soa Tea the best in the area.  You may know the chef Judy Joo (who is one of the four Iron Chefs on the cooking show Iron Chef UK.)  Whenever Ms Joo mentions Korean tea on her international TV program Korean Food Made Simple she is often seen in the tea fields with Kim Se Jin owner of Soa Tea.  Soa Tea produces excellent teas of great variety. His teas are superb and organically grow.  In fact he may be the only tea producer in Korea whose teas are certified organic in Korea, Japan, Europe and America.  I hope to be offering his teas to organic food stores so watch for them or ask your store to contact me.

His Gukwoo is a particularly rare tea. It was picked May 20, Gukwoo Day.  Koreans often tell me Gukwoo is their favorite tea.Contact me.

Yejeon Tea 

Kim Yu Ja and her son Jeon Ju Hyun
The terrible tragic ferry accident that made world news came just before the Hadong Tea Festival so it was cancelled for us on Tea Tour Korea 2014. Of course our tea group was disappointed. But we understood. Two members of our group, a tea master and his wife from Australia, had visited the Hadong Tea Festival a few years earlier. When we arrived at Yejeon Tea, they exclaimed. “This is the woman!”  On their visit to the earlier Hadong Tea Festival, they had been walking down the long line of Hadong tea producers tasting tea after tea until they came to Yejong Tea where they found this truly exceptional tea.  On tea Tour Korea they had been hoping to find her again and here she was.  Kim Yu Ja and her son Jeon Ju Hyun of Yejeon Tea truly produce, “Stand out from the crowd tea.”  These are truly exceptional mountain bush organically grown family produced teas - excellent.

Tea Tour Korea 2014 Join us for Tea Tour Korea 2015
These teas are from Hwagae Valley, Jerisan and are semi wild organically grown teas from high mountain bushes.
(Note: All prices are subject to meeting projected shipping costs as stated above.) Contact me.
In my comments above you might think Yejeon is best because of the story.  I could have told stories about Soa and Dosim Dawon as well.  When I gave a bag of Soa Gukwoo to a Korean friend, he was overwhelmed and said, "This is the best tea by the best producer."  Dosim Dawan was the favorite tea producer by several on Tea Tour Korea 2013.  The point is all of these teas are truly excellent.  
It may not be too late to get teas produced by:
Daeheungsa (Cho Ui’s Temple)

Green Tea     80g = $95.00 USD in four (4) 20g bags
This is my most rare tea offer and is below the price for this tea in Korea. It is a completely hand picked and hand made single pick tea essentially combining Woojeon with Sejak leaves to produce a truly superb tea that is in my opinion better than either one.  This is a very rare tea opportunity.  These are very old semi wild organically grown bushes from behind this ancient tea temple near Haenam.

Boh Daeheungsa and Yi Ho Yeong teas sell out quickly as they have a very limited production so if you want some contact me now. Even then you may have to be on a waiting list.
Gwanhyang Dawon - Yi Ho Yeong 

Woojeon           100g    $100.00
Sejak                100g      $60.00
Jungjak      85g-100g      $45.00*
Balhyocha  85g-100g      $40.00*
These truly extraordinary teas are bulk packed in weights approximately 100g, an artisan tradition. That’s the way I buy Jeong Jae Yeun’s artisan hwangcha before repacking for you.  Smaller leafed teas are closer to that weight than larger leafed teas.  Note the prices for Yi Ho Yeong’s tea are at my cost but it is slightly higher than originally offered. 

Jeong Jae Yeun

I first posted this blog without offering directly the hwangcha produced by Jeong Jae Yeun.  We offer this tea on a regular basis but some of you have asked if you could get her teas on this offer.  The answer is yes, of course.  
Jeong Jae Yeun 
Hwangcha   40g      $16.00  
This is Jerisan organic grown tea from semi wild bushes  a superb tea from a truly humble but outstanding producer.
Jeong Jae Yeun is the epitome of the Korean grandmother artisan tea producer.  Her greatest local customers are the many monks who seek her out.  Because of her humble natural tea background she says, "I don't know how to brew tea the right way.  The monks tell me, "You make it, we'll brew it'."  But when she brewed it, it was still a great tea. There are several unsolicited reviews of this tea on line, the latest is here by 'Cwyn' at Steepster.   
A final point, these are not 'cheap' teas.  These are some of the finest teas made in Korea that I am able to offer. I offer them at very reasonable prices.
I do not stock most of these teas.  However, contact me to see what is available.
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