Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tea from Korea

I was fascinated by the many types of church steeples we saw.
This one was in Austria on the way to Zurich.

A new friend, who is Korean, stopped in yesterday and we shared a cup of tea from samples I was sent from the Hankook Korean Tea Company, . I received 4 samples, 2 green, a persimmon and an Oolong. We tried the green one labeled Teuk Seon. There was only enough for one cup, which I brewed at about 160 degrees for 2 minutes. Neither of us was really taken with the taste, although Mae liked it better than I. To me, it tasted and smelled sort of seaweedy. However, hours later I finished it and cold, it was very flavorful, a nice combination of earthy and floral. I doubt I will be purchasing any. At $90 for 2 ounces, it is way beyond my price range.

Mae told me this is typical of Korean tea, that only the first plucking is considered good enough for tea and much of it is exported to Japan. She had lived in Japan for quite a while and said that Korean tea there was even more expensive than what comes into the US. She said most Koreans drank barley tea or corn tea or teas they made themselves from things in the garden, like mint or chamomile. Unless one was very wealthy, green tea was just too expensive. Mae told me the persimmon tea was something easily made at home and generally used for medicine, as it was quite bitter.

It has been very lovely here in the early morning and early evening. Across the road, the sun shines on the field of goldenrod and it is just brilliant through the dark trees of the spinney. At night, the sun is gone from our yard, but still shines in the swale beyond our thin strip of trees and again, there is that bright gold through the dark tree trunks.

Skipping around a bit, we'll now go to the Assam region of India, where many small landholders are newly growing tea and forming associations to market and manufacture their tea. They currently receive little if any help from the government, but it is promised to them and they hope for it so they can be more organized and earn more from their mini- estates. About 25% of Assam tea comes from these small farms. [Excerpted from Darjeeling Tea News]

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