October 24, 2018

Tea Tasting with Yoon Hee Kim of Tea Classics

What's better than a bottle of champagne to start the new year? A grand tea tasting! On January 14 I attended a tea tasting hosted by Yoon Hee Kim of Tea Classics. Yoon Hee is the president of Tea Classics, a founding director of Korean Tea Culture Foundation, and a certified tea master of the traditional art of Korean Tea Ceremony.

The event was held in tasting room located Chinatown. In addition to Yoon Hee, there were two special guests, one of whom was Corinne Trang of Liquid Gold Tea. The tasting began with introductions and a short lecture about Camellia sinensis flowering and seed production, Dan Cong, Korean flushes, and wild Lapsang production. Then we turned to the teas. The tasting was arranged as a flight moving from lighter to darker teas. Here are my notes on the twelve teas we drank.

  • Korean Green Tea (Hadong) processed by Yoon Hee. It was a sweet, nutty, and vegetal cup. 
  • Sencha. Yoon Hee recommends steeping send and gyokuro in 140F water for two minutes. 
  • Darjeeling White. Soft, fruity, and hairy liquor which I marked as "a very good - a daily drinker". 
  • New Zealand Rolled Oolong. It was "so good and creamy". It scented the air around the cup. Corinne recommends pairing it with Cantal, a cheese from central France.
  • Dan Cong. This oolong courtesy of Corinne was aromatic, floral and oily on the lips. "Yum!"
  • Jin Jun Mei 2015. This black tea, also courtesy of Corinne, was malty ad woody with a bit of pure funk.
  • Aged Hwangcha.
  • Korean Hongcha. This black tea was smooth, barely sweet, with a lingering cocoa note.
  • 2009 Shou. This purple-tipped brick tea was earthy with beetroot flavor. Raspberry chocolate makes a good pairing.
  • Sheng. This raw puerh possessed a sweet, fruity nose with lots of astringency mid tongue. 
  • Wild Lapsang. Forget about bitter smoke. This lapsang, courtesy of Corinne, was a highlight with floral notes and pleasant astringency.
  • Kenilworth Ceylon. A Mariage Frère tea.

Yoon Hee Kim is passionate and knowledgeable about tea. Her teaching style was generous. Her tea preparation movements were elegant and seamless. She created a relaxing environment for tea appreciation and socializing. I was disappointed that I could not attend her tea tasting earlier this month, but am grateful for the experience I had in January. I would be remiss if I did not thank Jo Johnson for the invitation.

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