This tea is all hand picked and produced by a single monk who lives and studies in a small hermitage, Am-Ja, atChil Bul Temple (Chil Bul Sa). This monk only produces enough tea for his personal consumption every year, a somewhat common practice among monks in Korea. He picks the tea leaves from his friend's semi-wild tea gardens which surround Chil Bul Sa and picks leaves from a different tea farm each year. It is a very common practice in Korea for people to rent family farms to produce their annual batch of green teas. This year, through familial connections, Sam has managed to secure a small bit of this tea.
This monk has a rather interesting perspective on Korean green tea and produces green tea to his personal preference. He believes that too much cauldron drying/roasting only benefits the tea's initial taste but not its aftertaste. He claims that the roasting harms the essence of the tea leaves and that minimal pan drying results in a tea that is closer to its original nature. Drinking minimally produced tea can thereby foster a closer relationship with the nature which surrounds him and his daily practice. This tea is intended as a simple, daily, unpretentious tea.
It is also important to note the historical importance that Chil Bul Sa played in the history of Korean tea culture. It was famously the place where the Korean Saint of Tea, Cho'Ui, recorded the Cha Sin Jeon as stated in the Epilogue.
And with all that said, how is the tea? Let's sit down in meditation with this tea and see what this tea has to offer...
The dry leaves smell of thin, slightly tangy, chokecherry high notes which sting at the nose. Below are wood notes which follow from the medium, late saejak, leaves. Faint, deeper, more complex forest notes linger almost unnoticed beyond the more distinct initial odours.
The first pot is prepared and offers a pale, milky, plan initial taste that faintly fades away. Very soft floral notes are ghostly on the breathe minutes later a frosty-fruit taste struggles to emerge. The mouthfeel is silky and covers the front of the mouth.
The second infusion has a very simple, woody, skim-milk-like, empty initial taste that faintly fades into nothing then it picks up that simple wood note again before leaving nothing but a bland-emptiness in the mouth. Very slight, barely noticeable unpretentious florals return in the breath minutes later then fade away.
The third infusion offers soft, simple, woody notes which fade into an empty nothingness- this monotone taste lingers. Slight, empty-sweet edges are left around the tongue. Soft florals are hard to detect on the breath minutes later. The mouthfeel stays mainly in the front of the mouth and now has a sticky-coarseness to it. The qi is as simple as the taste and is slightly relaxing.
The fourth and fifth infusions continue much the same but with a barely noticeable, slight generic, fruit edge somewhat more obvious but still very very faint. In the fourth infusion there is also a slight frosty spearmint edge found on the breath minutes later which fades quickly away into nothingness. There is a distinct empty taste profile throughout.
Overall this tea feels empty and hollow with its simple monotone wood taste and distant aftertaste. The depth is faint and hard to grasp as it is located mainly in the aftertaste minutes later- an unflattering tea perhaps best suited for a zen (kor. seon) monk.
The sixth infusion is watery with a very slight sweet edge to it. Some very faint fruit edges appear on the breath minutes later. The qi is still simple and relaxing with a slight superficial warmth which develops in later infusions.
The is tea is put to a seventh infusion and is much the same simple taste, now more watery, with slight frosty-sweet edges in a simple broth.