June 29, 2017

Teas Unique Korean Teas and Chocolate


A recent discussion over tea about Korean tea inspired me to post my review of three Korean teas by Teas Unique. I drank the whole leaf green and black teas soon after receiving them from Teas Unique. However, my review is based on tasting notes from a later cupping of these teas. Teas Unique was founded by Page and Jeanne Kaufman in 2010 and is based in the state of Georgia.  USDA certified organic teas from Korea are imported by the Kaufmans and packaged in the U.S.  Briefly, my cupping parameters for the whole leaf teas were 2.2 grams each infused in 180F (green) and 195F (black) water for 3 minutes then 3 minutes 30 seconds. Note that the company recommends steeping 1 teaspoon (which is under 2 grams) in 6 ounces of water for 2 minutes.


Korean Mt. Jiri Sejak (Second Pluck) 2016 Organic Single Estate Green Tea

The Teas Unique website as well as the tea pouch provides much information about each tea. This green tea was plucked around April 18, 2016 corresponding to the time before the first spring rain from a single estate on Mt. Jiri, Samsin Village, Hwagae District, Hadong County, Gyeongnam Province, Korea. The grade is second pluck meaning young leaves. I found two leaves and a bud plucks among my infused leaves. The leaves were pan heated by hand.

The dry leaves smelled like grass and hay. The leaves were slightly curled and of consistent length of approximately half an inch. The infused leaves smelled very savory. The yellow green liquor was thick and savory with a sweet tail note. The tea had a long finish that coated my tongue and palate. The second infusion lost much of its savoriness to a sweet vegetal flavor and a minimally fruity tail note. The infused leaves were beautiful.



Korean Boseong Sejak Hwang Cha (Lightly Oxidized) 2016 Organic Single Estate Whole Leaf Tea

Another second pluck tea only two days later than the green tea but this time black tea was harvested in Unrim Village, Gyeombaek District, Boseong County, Jeonnam Province, Korea. The leaves were lightly oxidized and roasted.

The long slightly twisted leaves of this hwang cha smelled of cocoa and fruit. The infused leaves also smelled of cocoa but instead of fruit, I detected a heavy sweetness. The smell of the dry and infused leaves promised a much fuller liquor than was experienced. The tea tasted of cocoa but it was light bodied. The liquor was smooth with no briskness or astringency though there was a slight drying effect. The second infusion seemed to be just a smidgen fuller bodied with fading cocoa and sweet notes. The infused leaves were broken in appearance.


Korean Jeju Island Second Flush 2016 Organic Single Estate Green Tea Powder (Matcha)

A July 25, 2016 harvest of young leaves from Mt. Halla, in Seonheul Village, Jeju Island, Koreawas steamed, roasted, and milled with a ceramic ball.

The color of this powdered green tea was not the typical vibrant emerald green of (Japanese) matcha. Some of the other powdered green teas sold by Teas Unique are closer in terms of color to a good quality Japanese matcha. I deviated from the instructions and used less than 6 ounces of water to whisk 1 teaspoon of the powder. Of the three teas, this one was the least successful in terms of taste, though it produced a fine froth.


Matchacolate Roasted Green Tea Matcha White Chocolate Bar

As with the whole leaf teas, I sampled the chocolate bar soon after receiving it and again recently. I preferred my initial tasting of the bar. Most recently, it has retained its enjoyable hojicha flavor, but a slightly chalky texture has replaced the earlier creaminess and sweetness from the white chocolate base.


Of this batch of tea products I've presented here, I would recommend the green and black loose leaf teas. The Mt. Jiri Sejak green tea is reminiscent of a savory, vegetal Chinese green tea. The Boseong Hwang Cha is lighter, simpler version of a Chinese dianhong. I think there is potential to make a richer cup of the hwang cha using different steeping parameters!

Teas and chocolate provided by Teas Unique.

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