Jaksul 101 – Sparrow What?

Taken on a trip to Korea in July of 2009.

Closeup of two leaves and a bud (tea leaf…aka camellia sinensis)

If you’re familiar with Korean green tea, you’ve probably heard the term “Jaksul” fairly often.

High-quality, artisan green tea is often refered to as Jaksul (작설, sometimes spelled “Jakseol”) in Korea.

The name, in Hanja, directly translates into “sparrow’s tongue”, referring to the tea leaf’s resemblance to the delicate shape of a sparrow’s tongue. 

A more detailed break-down of the word is as follows: 

작 (雀) 참새 ‘작’ – cham sae “jak” = sparrow “jak”

설 (舌) 혀 ‘설’ – hyuhsuhl” = tongue “sul”

One of the tea fields of the Honam Tea Estate (Hankook Tea Co.) in the province of Jeolla-namdo. Taken on a trip to Korea in July of 2009.

Grading tea varies from country to country, sometimes even from company to company. But mostly within one country, the grading system is fairly standard.

When comparing teas between countries, I’ve heard the following saying a few times:

“Japanese tea focuses on color, Chinese tea focuses on aroma and Korean tea focuses on taste”

While it is fairly irresponsible (stereotypical even) to generalize, whoever first said it wasn’t completely incorrect. This is most apparent when comparing green tea from these three different countries. (More about that in a future post.)

So when comparing green teas (or any teas) of different companies, be sure to keep that point in mind. (It might be best not to compare since the focus is so different.)

Coming soon…
Jaksul 101 – Does Size Matter?

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