Sparrow’s Tongue 2016
An outstanding Korean hand-picked sejak tea grown in Hwagae valley made using the tender spring leaves of old semi-wild tea tree stock from Chirisan mountain. It is grown and processed by Dong Cheon for a co-operative of 88 farmers dedicated to traditional methods and natural farming who use no pesticides or artificial fertilisers.
This is Dong Cheon’s sejak grade of tea, the second highest grade of tea of the year in the Korean ‘jakseol’ (‘sparrow’s tongue’) system, which this tea is named after. This year’s version is excellent, even by Dong Cheon’s high standards, combining some of the best qualities of both Chinese and Japanese green teas. The dry leaf aroma is fresh and vegetal, while the brewed tea is soft and floral with a long-lasting sweetness often found in Long Jing. When brewed at a low temperature the tea also has a meaty, umami flavour and thick, viscous texture similar to that of some shaded Japanese teas.
We strongly recommend brewing this at a low temperature, around 60°C, with a high ratio of leaf/water to bring out the umami and sweetness in the tea.
88 Small Farmers, Dong Cheon, Hwagae Valley, Korea
SIZE OF FARMS
0.5 acres (average)
PLANTS AND PROCESSING
Camellia Sinensis Sinensis, semi-wild Hadong cultivars. Pan-fired. Sejak grade – Harvested last week of April 2016.
60°C, 4-5g per 100ml. 4 infusions.
We have known and worked with many of our tea farmers for over a decade. It was 13 or 14 years ago that we first met Mr Il-Nam Ha and visited his small farm in Bosong. Since then he has moved the heart of ancient Korea tea culture in Hwagae and Jirishan where he started a factory that processes tea from over 80 small farmers with on average just half an acre each. Like at his previous farm, all the farmers he works with farm without chemicals but unlike his old farm many of the trees are several hundred years old and descended from the first tea trees grown in Korea.
The tea fields are the uniform tea fields usually found in east Asia. They are much more rocky and natural, like some of the planting you find in the Wuyi mountains.
Tea Fields near Chirisan Mountain