Everyone talks about the good old days, but in truth, I am still too young to have a firm opinion as to whether the past might have been better than the present. But what if there were a way to travel back to an older tradition? Korean teas might just offer a way.
Upon first learning of Korean teas, I was quite skeptical, though eventually I decided to give them a try. Then I was completely intrigued and had to learn more about them. Even the more mass-produced Korean teas seem to be a far cry from their mass-produced Chinese, Japanese, and Indian counterparts, as they showed signs of far more care taken in their production. The story of how tea production even managed to make it to this day in Korea is fascinating, seemingly reduced to a story of hermits harvesting bushes that have long since become “wild.”
The fact that Korean teas have endured in such a fashion is largely a result of Korea’s relationship with China. While the production methods may not be the same as they once were, low-production, modern-day Korean teas (difficult to find in the West) are most likely processed and picked completely by hand. And much like their Japanese and Chinese equivalents, they demand a high price.
Korean teas are categorized based on when they were picked in the lunar calendar. I have heard mixed responses as to whether these categories are roughly the equivalent of the well-known flushes by which Indian teas are categorized.
I have had a fun time exploring Korean teas lately, and I highly encourage others to do the same. The care put into them seems to come at a high price, but they are incredibly long lasting in that a little bit goes a long way!