Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Korean Way Of Tea

"The Korean Way of Tea" - written by Brother Anthony of Taize and Hong Kyeong-Hee.  Published by Seoul Selection in 2007.  This book deals with Korean tea.  

An excerpt :

"If the tea grows more or less freely, naturally, with minimal fertilizing and trimming, it is known as Yasaeng-cha (wild tea).  This is in contrast to the tea that grows in long, tidy rows in large-scale plantations; Koreans always feel that what grows naturally will be better that what is cultivated artificially.  In the end, the main difference is between hand-dried and machine-dried teas, tea made on a small scale by individuals and tea produced by machines in a factory.  Nothing on the boxes indicate the mode of production.

The most common way of indicating different grades of quality involves using the labels Ujeon (tea made in April), Sejak (tea made in April-early May) and Jungjak (tea made in May).  These correspond more or less to the 'first flush, second flush, third flush" of high quality Indian tea.  Ujeon, made of the smallest, earliest shoots, is always the most expensive, and sometimes quite excessively so.  Sejak is usually almost as good, at least despite using shoots that emerged slightly later.  A good producer's Jungjak will be only a little less intensely flavored, having been made later in May than the other two.  It will usually be quite a bit cheaper.  Buyers need to know that sometimes Ujeon can lose part of its special fragrance after a few months, even if sealed in a foil packet, it is not necessary the best buy by the time Christmas comes."

Reading this book, I sense there is a mix of Chinese and Japanese tea influences in that the tea leaves ranged from fine tea leaves to powdered tea, so you may have to brew it Kung fu style, or with a whisk when you brew powdered tea.  

This book delivers much information on Korean tea; from the tea farm to the final product.   My impressions from reading the book are that the authors seem to convey there is a spirituality and calmness when it comes to Korean Tea.  Fascinating.  

I like the way the authors described the way of tea:

"It is a poor, simple Way, not really needing a capital "W" to justify itself.  Take the time, it says, no matter who you are or where in the world you are.  Take the time to stop.  Be alone with yourself or a few others in a world where a lot of people are alone in the crowd; be quiet in a world where a lot of people are afraid of silence, always listening to music or shouting into a phone.  Stopping, alone, in a simple space with just the minimum needed to make tea and drink it.  That is the essential practice of the Way of Tea.  It is a far removed from the complicated, self-conscious complexities of a formal Tea ceremony."

1 comment:

Miss Tea Delight said...

Thanks for sharing Wilson. I admire the honesty and writing style of this book.

PS: fine powdered tea has its roots in the Song Dynasty. The Japanese has since perfected this art of making it :-)