Friday, April 17, 2015

Korean black tea review, plus tea haul in Korea and Japan

This post is really about reviewing a Korean black tea but I'll start with pictures of all the teas I brought back from my recent trip to Korea and Japan to start (to Seoul and Yokohama, to be more specific, although we did visit the Tokyo Disneyland).

Maybe it's no wonder my wife is always bored to death with me buying teas, and repeatedly says "enough tea already" on trips, when it's really not.  So this post is dedicated to her; hang in there.

Korean teas!  Middle is black tea (reviewed), plus a green (left) and yellow (right)

Korean teas!  In the the middle is the tea I'm reviewing, and a yellow tea I bought in the same Insadong shop, and a green tea I bought in the Seoul Gyeongdong Market (traditional medicine market).  Since the green tea seems a more typical preparation of Korean teas and it was by far the least expensive ($5 for 150 grams) I'll be interested to see how it compares to the others.

Japanese teas!  left to right, black tea, then roasted green (?), and two others

Japanese teas!  A black tea (wakoucha (Japanese black tea) 和紅茶 ), a roasted green tea (more on what that means to follow), and two relatively "generic" teas I'll also get into later.

Chinese teas!  (we visited Chinatown in Yokohama)

Chinese teas!  Odd, right.  We visited a Chinatown in Yokohama to find tea (in part; my family wasn't interested in the tea) and it turns out they only sold Chinese teas.  These are two wuyi yanchas (one identified as dahongpao, the other left generally referenced), a lapsang souchong, and a pu'er (must be shou / "cooked" ).  It was interesting to see teas from different countries on sale all over in Japan; nice they can appreciate their own diverse green teas and still branch out.

Snacks!  Three of them even tea related, green tea Kit-Kat, Oreos, and Pocky (all from Japan; where else), and a nice graham-cracker type biscuit they sell in Korea (which would be nice with tea).

Korean black tea review

First impression is of a higher grade black tea, the smooth and subtle balanced character.  Mineral elements give it a touch of dryness, in the range of flint.   there is some sweetness, not much of a fruit element compared to mineral, malt (a lot of malt), and light wood (so decent complexity),  maybe a hint of underlying grape, leaning towards a darjeeling flavor spectrum related to some of those elements, but definitely not in general.

The feel of the tea is a bit unique.  It's not really astringent in the normal sense, which comes across as bitterness,  but the dryness is related to a different presentation of astringency.  This ties with the mineral components and also to a long finish (aftertaste).  The effect is very pronounced; the taste of the tea doesn't diminish much for the first 30 seconds after swallowing it.

So that's the tea described; very interesting.  It's not really like any other tea I've tried, although some components remind me of a higher grade lapsang souchong I reviewed,  which was malty, complex and subtle, and very light on smoke (but different). But do I like it?

nice red black tea color

To clarify,  I mean how do these unique and generally positive taste and body elements relate to my subjective preference.  That goes without saying, really, (what "like" means) but I've been drifting towards deconstructing impressions one wouldn't normally express, so I may as well be clear.

I like it but don't love it.   It's quite good tea (based on my judgment,  which is still a work in progress), but I might like it better for swapping out some subtlety and mint and mineral components for a light fruit element and more typical body / feel.

Then again,  since I seek out and try different teas to experience new things it would've been disappointing if it tasted a lot more like any number of black teas I've already tried.  Another reviewer referred to a tea I loved as "juicy" (Indonesian black tea reviewed here) and I loved that impression in that tea, a bit opposite in this one, not that I dislike it.

brewed leaves; a bit chopped, some fine stem
Something about the feel of the tea reminds me of different Taiwanese red jade / ruby teas I've tried (one review here) Taiwanese teas I've tried, and just thinking about that shifts the mineral component impression towards mint. And it seems to really resemble mint, which I'd missed.

This tea's taste elements seem more complex and balance together better than the version of that tea I'd tried, with malt reminiscent of lots of black teas,  and mineral tones that remind me of distinctive Vietnamese tea flavor elements.

All in all a nice tea, and an interesting one.  Not a great value given the tea pricing in the range of a US dollar a gram but worth a try.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, This a nice information about Black Tea.really black tea is healthy drinks in morning time.