Tag Archives: cha

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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Tea vs Tisane (Herbal)

The first thing I usually come across when reading a tea blog (or any blog for that matter) is a definition of the topic being blogged about. This, of course, is important. So here goes…

TEA (Korean: 차 cha) – is a product of a specific type of plant, increasingly becoming more well known by its “real” name…camellia sinensis. No matter what, if it doesn’t come from this plant/tree, it’s technically not “tea”. Until the more recent boom in the interest in tea, the term “tea” was used more loosely to describe hot beverages made from infusions of plants, leafs and/or flowers. (It’s the same in Korea – when steeping a leaf, flower or plant in hot water, the resulting product is usually called —cha).Nowadays, there is more of an effort for differentiating between tea and tisane (or more commonly, “herbal tea”).

Photo taken during a trip to the one of the tea farms in the Honam Tea Estate (managed by the company I work for…Hankook Tea) in July of 2009. (Please do not use photo without permission.)

Two leaves and a bud – a phrase commonly used to describe the tip of the tea tree/plant. The stem branches out from the tea bush and on each stem is a series of leaves. At there very tip, there is a bud in the center and two small leaves on either side. This portion is hand-picked to create some of the world’s highest quality artisan teas. Depending on the plant, this will grow back several times for multiple hand-pickings. The larger leaves below this section are harvested later on (usually by machine) to produce other types of teas.

Depending on where and when the leaves are picked and how they are processed, the name, flavor and appearance will all differ. There are thousands of variations but most teas will fall under one of these major categories (more details to follow in a future post): white, green, oolong, oxidzed, black and pu’erh (or pu’er).

TISANE…a.k.a. herbal tea (Korean: 기능성 음료 gi-neung-sung eum-ryo – directly translated to mean “functional drink/beverage”) – Tisane is the French term for aromatic or herb-flavored tea. An herb is “a flowering plant whose stem above ground does not become woody; such a plant when valued for its medicinal properties, flavor, scent, or the like.” Depending on the type of herb, the flavor, appearance and health benefits will all differ. There are probably as many (if not more) types of tisanes out there as there are variations of teas.

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