In my last post (Jaksul 101 – Sparrow What?), we defined what Jaksul Cha is.
Tea has become such universal beverage (one of the most consummed beverage in the world, second only to water). Practically every country in the world currently produce some form of it. As discussed in my previous post, each country has its own grading system – there is no universal grading system.
In Korea, Jaksul green tea grading depends on the time picked and the size of the raw tea leaf. We will go more into detail about seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar in another post.
The “jak” found at the end of the following words is the same root as in “jaksul” (meaning “sparrow” in Hanja).
Ujeon (우전) – “woo” = rain, “jeon” = before
Name derived from time picked, which is before the first rainfall (or Gokwoo) of Spring. It is a special grade given usually to the absolute first picking of the season of just the delicate buds. Technically, this grade is to be categorized under the “Se-jak” grade. Because it is so special, though, many will indicate it as its own special “Ujeon” grade.
Se-jak (세작) – “se” = small/thin
Picked right before and after Gokwoo, up to Ibha (Spring), only the delicate two leaves and bud at the tip of each branch is picked.
Joong-jak (중작) – “joong” = medium/middle
Picked after Ibha, at the end of Spring (somahn). Composed of leaves that have grown a bit more (no buds).
Dae-jak (대작) – “dae” = large/big
Picked during the entire summer (haji). Usually these fully-grown leaves are machine picked, and can include bit of branches.
This system of determing the green tea’s grade by size is fairly consistent throughout all of South Korea. Of course there are so many various ways of picking and processing those leaves. But one thing that is fairly consistent throughout the country is this grading system. Especially more currently with the ever-changing weather, the seasons are coming later. So more than the dates or time, leaves are categorized more by its size.
Tea Farming: Divide by 24