This tea is entirely produced by one woman, Jeong Jae Yeun devotes her entire tea farm production to this tea, by hand. Not strictly a yellow tea, the leaves are lightly oxidized, but not bruised, not wok cooked, not roasted and not fully fermented. Production is completed “before the Buddha’s birthday,” (Korean lunisolar calendar, early spring).
According to the Morning Crane Tea blog (5 Nov 2012), word of this tea was brought to a clay tea kettle artist by a Buddhist nun who happened to have tasted this tea while in the mountain region. My interest in tasting this tea was due to my background. As a former Roman Catholic nun, with a decade of training under a Sufi master and then 3 years with a Hindu swami, I wanted to discover what this Buddhist nun experienced when she tasted this tea.
The tea is not certified organic, but Morning Crane Tea (a group of pottery artists with an interest in tea), who is the sole seller of this tea in the west states that the trees are “organic wild and semi-wild (Ibid.).” The leaves are like thin threads, resembling black saffron. Ordinary hwangcha is brewed with full boiling water, this just seemed wrong for this delicate leaf so I started with 150 degrees, 2 tsp in a 6 oz (180 ml) gai wan for about a minute. The leaves turned green and barely began to open.
At this temperature, I got a full mouth of chocolate flavor, as is often reported from hwangcha tasting, sweet, full body and creamy in the cup. For the second steeping, I decided to use full on boiling water and the leaves opened completely, and appeared flat and oval and yellow like a Dragonwell. The heat completely overwhelmed the chocolate, but the taste was still there, along with more tangy notes similar to the description on the package of tea. The third brew steeped out the leaf. I think had I stayed with lower temps I might have had more steeping but the boiling water brewed it out. Finishes cool on the throat.
For the Buddhist nun, there would not have been a third steeping, not really if we want to know her experience. I believe it was the first steeping, and probably the first mouthful, that she meant. A Buddhist nun fasts more as a regular practice than do many other nuns. I was not on a fast at the time, but I know from experience that fasting heightens olfactory and all other senses. A fasting nun would not have put boiling water into her stomach, she would have had that cooler steep. But she would have tasted that first, overwhelming mouthful of chocolate, and wept. This is truly what I would call a nun’s tea.
The tea can be purchased for $16 for 40 g, I tasted the 2013 spring harvest.
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruit Tree Flowers