Last Friday I had the opportunity to experience a very special caked, aged tea that is seldom seen outside of Korea. My friend Eric Glass, of The Fragrant Cup, arranged ahead of time to bring the tea to Phoenix Tea, generously wanting to share the experience with me and Brett Boynton. Eric provided the tea and olive pit charcoal, and we had all of the other tools and supplies on hand that would be needed in the four+ hour process: a Chou Zhou stove (we could have used a Japanese Ryoro, but decided that the coal pit was too deep), chopsticks, a portable burner for lighting the coals, a glass kettle, an electric hob (cook-top), a sookwoo (cooling and serving vessel), and Korean tea cups with saucers.
The tea is called 떡차, which is Anglicised in a number of ways, including Tteok-cha, Ddok-cha, and Ttok-cha. For consistency I am going to use the spelling used by Steven D. Owyoung, Tteok-cha in his article on Tsiosophy, “Report on the 2012 Korean Tea Exhibition: Tteok-cha.”
Tteok-cha most commonly comes in two different types of cakes: hand formed, which are smaller and less precisely shaped, and coin-shaped, which are pressed into molds and have a hole in the center which is used to string the individual pieces together. The rare tea that Eric brought was made approximately ten years ago by Master Kim Song Tae, and was a small, thin very dense but lightweight cake. It was acquired through Korean ceramicist Cho-Hak (Arthur Park), of Morning Crane Tea.
Tteok-cha was originally developed for use medicinally, and is brewed by decoction rather than by infusion. Preparation of the tea has two basic stages: roasting the tea over a charcoal fire, and then simmering it over heat for more than three hours.
The roasting process is straightforward, particularly if one is familiar with working with a small tea stove. I had never had the opportunity to use olive pit charcoal before, and although there were some slight issues with the grating in the stove being large enough to allow a couple of the pits to fall through, it was clear that this charcoal is vastly superior to the hardwood charcoal I’ve been using, which tends to spark quite a lot during lighting. (Unfortunately, olive pit charcoal is a very elusive commodity in the US currently. Eric brought his back from Chou Zhou.)
We had already set the kettle filled with spring water to warming, so by the time the tea roasting was done the water was close to boiling. We dropped the little sliver of tea into the water and started the long wait (which consisted, naturally, of drinking other teas).
We kept the heat at a level that was as close to a steady low simmer as we could manage, and throughout the 3.5 hours of brewing very little water evaporated. One remarkable thing about the tea was that even after several hours the tea did not break up at all, remaining one solid piece throughout.
For the sake of comparison and to test its progress, we tasted the tea after one hour of brewing, and it was interesting, but clearly nowhere near what it was going to eventually yield. It was also pretty pale in color. When we tasted it again after three hours, Eric determined that the dark red liquor was close, but still needed an additional 20-30 minutes over the heat.
Finally, after the full 3.5 hours we removed it from the heat and poured into the sookwoo, and then into our individual cups. The rich, brothy tea had a flavor unlike any tea I’ve ever tasted. While it was complex and very delicious, it did have a somewhat medicinal quality to it, though not at all unpleasant. This special tea was very enjoyable to drink, and it was great to have the opportunity to experience this unique type of tea. Thank you Eric, for making it possible for us to experience this tea with you.
For more background on this fascinating tea, read “A Primer on Ddok Cha,” by Steven D. Owyoung.
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Allow me to introduce you to your new favourite show to binge watch on Netflix. Kim’s Convenience is a CBC comedy about a Korean-Canadian family running a convenience store in downtown Toronto. The sitcom is based on Ins Choi’s award-winning play. The moment I began watching the show I instantly regretted not doing so sooner. I actually started watching Kim’s Convenience because of an interaction on this Instagram post that featured Janet, played by the hilarious Andrea Bang, chugging a mug of tea. Andrea Bang was born and raised in Burnaby, B.C and like her character, she grew up around tea. In fact, tea plays a huge role in her acting career today. At the tea table Andrea opened up about her childhood tea moments, her favourite steeps, which character from Kim’s Convenience she would share a cup of tea with and more.
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Two Types of Major College scholarships
Just before we get in composition, let me define what i’m saying by a ‘major’ scholarship. You can find two major types We are focusing on. The foremost is the kind that promises more than just bucks. These free college funding also include unique mentoring, enrichment experiences, management development, study opportunities, embraced experiences by using a cohort connected with fellow historians, and/or entrance to an is in program. Any some of these activities might be marketed in addition to a whole (or close full) journey to college. Could possibly be anywhere from some to 52 scholarships to go around for each inbound class in various colleges in the United States (the Stamps President’s Scholarship from Georgia Tech falls straight into this category).
The second type scholarship is one of expensive or perhaps most exclusive scholarship within a particular university. It’s not unconventional to find some or 20 of these scholarships or grants sitting there with the students considered ‘the good the best’ in the newly arriving class. Requirements for line is often very scholastically focused, but is not exclusively. Bonuses beyond financing for the cost of attendance usually are hit or miss, typically miss (though sometimes these come with admission to an recognizes program).