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Sulloc-Cha Jakseol, a green tea from Korea

June 02, 2010

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It took a bit of work, but I have identified this tea as third flush Jakseol. When I bought it several weeks ago I was limited in the amount of information at hand, since I am not able to read Korean, but I could tell that it was good quality Korean green tea, grown and produced by the O’Sulloc Company on Jeju (Che-ju) Island, which was enough information to tell me it was what I was looking for. I was quite surprised and pleased to find any respectable Korean tea in a local store, even a large Korean grocery like Paldo World.

As attractive as the bright green tin is, even the company name was a challenge to puzzle out since it only appears in English in the highly stylized logo. But after I identified where the tea came, from I knew I could trust its quality.

The only English on the package says “not fermented green tea,” which didn’t tell me anything useful. Much later, after some comparisons with other tea packages, and some guessing what English to enter into the translator to identify the characters, I was able to translate enough of the package information to tell when in the season it was picked and what kind it was, which was harder than it sounds. I was using Google Translate, which is useful, but I couldn’t type in the Korean characters, and while the translations from English show the Romanizations it wouldn’t translate them the other direction.

The two large characters in the middle left of the package front, under the Sulloc-Cha logo and company name, are Jak-seol (Jakseol), which is a type of Korean green tea, often referred to as “Sparrow’s Tongue” due to its appearance. 중제 means third picking, or third flush, sometimes written Jung-jak (중작), and in the case of this package, the Romanization is “Jeung Je.” (The second character is “third;” the first is jung, or jeung, which translates as “during,” which shows how ineffective literal translation is, in this case.) The third pick of Jakseol is in the later part of June, so this is last year’s tea.

That was a lot of wrangling with language to come up with little actual information, but what is more important is that this is very delicious tea. I’ve made it at home, prepared in a Korean black stoneware tea set. I have also been drinking it fairly often in a Korean celadon cup/infuser set at work, which is quite pleasant.

I need to find the proper Korean name for those sets. They’re not at all like a Chinese gaiwan, although I’ve seen people call them that, and they’re not just a cup or mug. They’re very efficient devices for brewing and drinking Korean green teas. for the first infusion I pour boiling water into the empty mug part and then insert the infuser with the tea in it after the water is around 160-170 degrees (fahrenheit).

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