Sam, the owner of Good Green Tea, sent this box of micro farm balhyocha which he glowed about weeks before over email. Later he reported that he acquired it from a small farm from Sancheong, Jiri Mountain, and that is was completely wild tea. He claimed that Mr. Hong has over 50 years experience making tea and that he makes it all by hand with only the help of his wife. Mr. Hong makes only Hwang cha (balhyocha) with his tea leaves and only produces 15 Kg per year (he keeps 5 KG of this tea). The production of this tea is all natural and even includes air drying the leaves on big heated boulders during night time instead of the standard ondol heated floors which are commonly used to produce balhyocha.
Sounds to good to be true, as these micro-garden Korean teas rarely ever make it to market, never mind North American market. Lets look at the dry leaves and see if this tea is the real deal.
The dry leaves are quite small, likely ujeon grade, with some buds in the mix. Very juicy and sweet, very vibrant odours emit from these thin, rolled leaves. Strong fruity peachy dried apricot notes are apparent.
The first infusion contains soft peach notes with sweet pure light sugary tastes that glide across the tongue. It leaves a smooth fresh apricot finish in the mouth. The mouthfeel is full but soft, light and very clean.
The second infusion delivers a very distinct peach and spicy pungent cinnamon initial taste. A very light but rich smooth base of sweet autumn leaves is underneath which delivers a clean deeper malty taste that faintly lingers in the distance. These tastes, especially the distinct peach and cinnamon, fade into the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is light but full leaving a sweet taste in the mid-throat. The qi is profoundly relaxing and completely spaces out the mind.
In the third infusion the fruity taste and spicy cinnamon taste seem inseparable and very strong and pure in the initial flavour. Soft persimmon and dried apricot come to mind. The mouthfeel is full and leaves the mouth and throat soft and slightly sticky. Barely detectable underneath is the sweet malty-syrup taste providing a bit of contrast to the sweet, dominating pungent fruit tastes. The qi emits a subtle warmth on this cool windy day. The mind feels tranquil.
The fourth and fifth infusion are much the same as the third- very fresh, clean, deep, smooth, and soft. The persimmon is bready now with still quite sweet edges. The mouthfeel continues to impress with its soft gentle nuances in harmony with this gentle clean tea.
The sixth infusion has more of a smooth spiciness with fruity notes becoming weaker while the malty, caramel depth drawing more attention. This tea maintains much of its taste throughout the session without moving too much away from these pleasant pure tastes.
The seventh infusion is now of plumby-peach wood with pungency that is almost gone. The light caramel tastes are still apparent. These tastes fade into faint apricot that stays on the breath.
The eighth and ninth infusions impart a bready quality upfront which turns to persimmon then slowly fades away. This tea is taken for a few more longer infusions which bring out sweet pure, deep, rich malty fruit pear tastes with subtle spicy persimmon.