Tag Archives: Korean tea

Jaksul 101 – Does Size Matter?

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.

Green tea leaves in South Korea. These are fully grown tea leaves (Dae-jak grade) Photo taken on a trip to Honam Tea Estates (S. Korea) in July of 2009.

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.

Coming soon…
Tea Farming: Divide by 24

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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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