Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2009 Lao Shan Cha (“Korea type”)

Shandong Province of China is quite close to South Korea, being separated just by small part of Yellow Sea. Laoshan District, part of this province is even closer – and that’s where this tea is from.

Having a large Korean minority and similar geographical conditions to South Korea, Shandong is, as far as I know, the northernmost place in China to produce tea. It thus is no wonder that these teas are said to be really similar to Korean teas, being often even labeled as “Korean type” and other names that have something to do with this neighbouring country.

When you consider all these factors, this tea can be accused of being another cheap, Chinese fake of product far more expensive – can be, but it’s not so accurate, as most similarities end in point of geographical location and appearance of the leaves.

This sample was thankfully received as a small curiosity to try. I was really curious; wouldn't it be nice to have a cheap tea, similar to much more expensive Korean greens for everyday drinking?

First surprise comes after opening the package, as dry leaves smell similar to Vietnamese green teas rather than Korean. It’s a bit rough, somehow sour scent; it’s also evident that this tea already isn’t fresh.

This character continues and deepens in first infusion, which is quite spicy and muggy in taste and even more sour in smell. There is also quite strong bitterness; not that noble, desired bitterness, but something not so pleasant and even disturbing in some way. I’m in a strong need to eat something sweet after drinking this tea.

Second infusion is absolutely the same, not bringing out anything new or interesting.

So is the third infusion.

I made just three infusions; the tea hasn’t impressed me. Maybe it’s because I expected something completely different, but there was nothing that special in this tea. Or maybe my taste buds are too spoiled. I'm not telling that it's absolutely bad, but...

Next review is finally going to be real Korean green tea, specifically 2010 Jungjak Nokcha by Jukro Tea Company. I can already say that it’s incredibly wonderful.


  1. What water temp did you brew it at?
    That might play into it.
    Did you experiment with all your parameters?

  2. William,

    I used 70°C (about 150 F, I think) hot water, same temperature and amount as I usually use for Korean green tea - at this temperature, most teas doesn't tend to get this bitter. I also tried changing the brewing time and amount of water, but nothing seemed to deliver up good result.
    The tea just isn't of great quality, but I haven't expected anything special, as the cost is just about 3 Euro for 50 grams - often not even one tenth of price of Korean original.

  3. This is fascinating to me. I have never tried any tea from Korea, nor any from Shandong province. On RateTea.net, we currently list a single tea from Shandong: Five Peaks Mountain, also a green tea, sold by Shanti Tea, a new Canadian tea company worth looking at if you have not yet seen it.

    I find it interesting too because Shandong is fairly far north...and I have never encountered any tea being grown farther north than that in China or Korea.