Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011 Hadong Gyeun Farm Saejak Nokcha

Another post about Korean tea? Yes. Unexpectedly, it seems like this season is going to be quite Korean for me – there are more interesting fresh teas from this country on Czech and Slovak market than ever before.

This particular Saejak was purchased on my last visit to's store. It cannot be found on their website nor in their regular offering, but, along with two other Korean teas mentioned below, can be tasted in their neighboring teahouse “U veseleho slona”.

This exact same tea can, however, be purchased on – this year, they offer three different Hadong teas, one Ujeon, this Saejak and one Yellow tea. All of these teas come in the generous Hadong packaging (see Matt's very informative post here), but, at least for this one, there is a sticker on the back of its box – mostly in Korean, the only exception being web address of Gyeun Farm, which I suppose is the producer. It originates in Ssangye area and is, according to the Darjeeling website, completely hand-picked and hand-processed from wild tea bushes.

Since it was purchased, I've enjoyed this Saejak quite a lot of times, always discovering something new and liking the tea more and more – it really grew on me.

These leaves are quite uniform, small and a bit curly with very pleasant sweet, deep and, again, forest-like smell. As they are placed into the preheated Shiboridashi, this smell intensifies and new nuances come out, reminding me of various things – sweet pastry or bread among them.

Always using just a slightly hotter water than I did for the previous brew, several infusions are made of this tea, as its character gradually evolves, changes and becomes interestingly different in each and every one of them – generally, these brews are quite light, yet very aromatic at the same time. The taste is mainly soft, bread-like, bit roasted, sweet and fresh; it embraces all the deepness found in its smell and even more, fruity tones reminiscent of sweet young pears and something I would call “mountain forest air” and the sensation of breathing it. The aftertaste is mild and sweet, being noticeable for a very long time and seems to carry different main tone after each infusion – nutty sweetness after the first one, fruity freshness after the second, almost vanilla-like creaminess after the third and so on.

This tea reaches its peak around third or fourth brew, when it is strongest and most intensive in taste, smell and aftertaste. After that, it still produces more than enjoyable infusions – gradually, these are just less deep, a bit more sharp and spicy and have smaller scale of tones, most persistent of which is probably the roasted bread-like taste and nuttiness.

One of the most amazing things about this tea is the almost spiritual-like, peaceful state of mind it leaves me in after the session – the need to just quietly sit and breathe, still sensing this tea, not only on the tongue.

I feel like taking this tea on a trip with me and enjoying it in the nature – hopefully, I really will, before I completely run out of it.


  1. I remember this farm at the Hadong Tea Festival. Somehow, the sejak grade seems more accessible to me offering up more flavor and finish than the ujeon teas. The difference in price can also be significant with the sejak being more affordable. Such a fuss is made over the ujeon. It is a very pure tea but many westerners will wonder why this tea is so expensive given its more subtle flavor profile.

  2. Maybe it's just your photography, but I find this is a particularly beautiful-looking tea, both before and after the leaves have been steeped. It seems to have a range of of yellow and almost blue-green colors.

    I often find that one of the big differences between decent tea and really outstanding tea is the effect it has on mind and body...I've experienced this calm, centering sort of effect with a number of my favorite teas.

  3. Ho Go,
    I haven't had a chance to try any Ujeon yet, but I believe it's like that with some Chinese green teas as well - the first example that comes to my mind is the Imperial Bi Lo Chun I tasted in Brno last month. That very same day and in the same teahouse, I also tasted the basic grade made of large leaf varietal (Bi Lo Chun Da Ye) cost of which was almost exactly 10 times lower than that of the Imperial grade. When drinking these teas, I was thinking that some people may question why is the imperial grade so much more expensive, when it is so extremely pure, mild and subtle, compared to the basic grade, which offered maybe more "pronounced" and marked taste. I ended up my visit to the teahouse by purchasing a pack of the basic grade. That is why I mentioned in that post that the Imperial grade isn't something I would buy for my personal consumption at home - these teas probably really aren't meant to be something to buy in larger quantities, but rather something to enjoy very occasionally, when we are in mood to savor its deep purity and subtlety and when our mind is somehow set up on the same "subtle" frequency. Their price usually corresponds with that as well :-) It may be different with Ujeon, like I said, I yet have to try some - but I just guess this may be a similar case.

    it isn't just the photography, actually, I think these leaves are even more beautiful in reality than on the photos - or at least seem so to me.
    You are very right about the difference; some teas are just great to drink almost anytime, some require certain "special" moment to enjoy them to the fullest - sessions with these teas often end with such an unique effect on mind, which is different from tea to tea.

  4. I'm not sure if any other teas can compare with the beauty of the Korean leaves, especially when spent. Long Jing can come close. Ujeon grade is really lovely looking. You can see the tea masters often chewing on the spent leaves.

    I think the 'subtle frequency' may not be concerned with purity and conceptual thinking. :)