Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea


Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby debunix » Apr 25th, '10, 17:31

Put together a review of the Hankook Oolong tea today, after a few casual sessions without photos.

This is fairly pricey like most Korean teas, apparently due to rarity with most being consumed inside Korea.

The leaves are dark, small, twisted, with toasty and fruity odors. When added to the prewarmed gaiwan, the odor is stronger, mostly fruity and tart.

Image

Used 2.5 grams of tea for a 75mL or 2.5 oz porcelain gaiwan, keeping to about 1g tea per ounce.

The first 30 second infusion with water several minutes off the boil (probably about 180 degrees) yields an amber infusion, tasted like dilute black tea--touch of fruit, bit of toasty, but very little of the floral and earthy notes I expect from my chinese oolongs.

2nd infusion at 170 degrees (thought it was a bit warmer, surprised when it was so cool in the cup), also about 30 seconds, again tastes strongly of....well...black tea. A little fruity, very tea-like, a little hint of caramel.

Image

For the 4th infusion, I put water just off the boil for 20 seconds, and a little more sweetness comes out. It reminds me a bit of the Yunnan Oriental Beauty I got from Yunnan Sourcing: tastes strongly oxidized, like a black tea, but without any of the bitterness that makes most of them intolerable to me.

The leaves are broken, curled, dark after infusion, and again, has a strong tea scent. ('Tea scent' here is code for smells like lipton, but that seems like a bad word to use describing a pleasant mild tea.)

Image

It is easy and pleasant, but not as special as the price.
Last edited by debunix on Apr 25th, '10, 22:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby Victoria » Apr 25th, '10, 18:35

Nice review, thanks! I have this tea, I like it pretty well, need to have some again soon.
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby Tead Off » Apr 25th, '10, 22:41

How much tea leaf do you use in what size vessel?
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby debunix » Apr 25th, '10, 22:45

Boy, I was asleep at the wheel, that must have gotten cut during an edit.

I used 2.5 grams tea for a 75mL (2.5 oz) porcelain gaiwan.

(edited post above)
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby wyardley » Apr 25th, '10, 23:35

I have tried this one several times, and like it quite a bit, though I haven't had many others to compare it to. There's a little bit of a musty / straw kind of taste. Pretty smooth, comforting and satisfying, and offers something slightly different from any other category of tea I've tried. Not an astonishing amount of complexity, but it's still a tea that suits my mood once in a while.
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby debunix » Apr 26th, '10, 00:00

If it were less expensive, it would probably have a place in my regular rotation. As it is, I think it will be a once-in-a-while tea.
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby chrl42 » Apr 26th, '10, 00:40

I'm not sure if it's traditional Hwangcha (Korean yellow tea) or Chinese Oolong made by Hankook Ltd.

But I'd weigh more on latter...I thought average labor cost in China is a lot cheaper and the number of tea trees is a lot more :D
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby debunix » Apr 26th, '10, 00:49

They claim their tea is grown on their own estates:

"The modern history of Korean artisan tea is rooted in the grounds of Hankook Tea Company and Honam Tea Estate. In the early 1950’s, before the coming of age of green tea in Korea, the first Honam Tea farm was planted at the foot of Mudeung Mountain. As green tea gained popularity in Korea, the company expanded the farm to encompass several hundreds of acres in four locations – Bo Seong, Yeong Nam, Jang Seong and Hae Nam. Each tea estate was carefully chosen for its ideal climate and geographic location for tea bushes.

Within the idyllic surroundings sprouts the most elegant cup of green tea defined by its incredible combination of lightness and intensity. Grown free of pesticides and free trade, our family run company upholds the strictest standards to take quality to new levels, creating a taste of integrity with each sip."

http://www.hankooktea.com/history-and-awards.html

I just encountered them and their tea for the first time a couple of months ago, so this is pretty much all I know about them. Do you have any particular reason to be skeptical of their claims?
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby chrl42 » Apr 26th, '10, 09:45

debunix wrote:Do you have any particular reason to be skeptical of their claims?

Why would I be skeptical of their claims? (except for 'free of pesticides' maybe :)). Hankook tea is relatively small company in Korea, rather known in its birth place (Guangju, Jeolla province) and in the West

What I wanted to say was, no one in Korea calls Hwangcha, as Oolong. Oolong is another term of calling Chinese tea in Korea, and that Korean Hwangcha has nothing to do with Oolong. Hwangcha dates to back to Jeong Yak Yong (1762~1836) of Chosun dynasty, who was renowned scholar and tea master, it was said to be rather influenced by Chinese Huangcha (like Junshan Silver Needle), Oolong is technically called Qingcha

I'm sure what Hankook tea said was on behalf of attracting customers with a friendly term, their based province Jeolla is actually birthplace of Korean Hwangcha..
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby debunix » Apr 26th, '10, 10:48

chrl42 wrote:
debunix wrote:What I wanted to say was, no one in Korea calls Hwangcha, as Oolong. Oolong is another term of calling Chinese tea in Korea, and that Korean Hwangcha has nothing to do with Oolong.


OK, that makes sense. This is quite a unique tea, not at all like the traditional roast TGYs or Wuyi rock teas, or like the lighter oxidized greener pouchongs and new style anxi oolongs; nor like the couple of chinese yellow teas that I have had.

What it most resembles to me is the very highly oxidized 'Oriental beauty' type oolong--that sense of a strongly fruity, almost black tea that just entirely lacks the bitter bite of a keemun or CTC assam tea.
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby entropyembrace » Apr 26th, '10, 23:12

Hmmmm people keep saying Keemun has bite...or strong smokiness...but I never notice that...kemun to me is smooth, sweet and mild with a touch of fruityness. :?

Even if it´s the exact same Keemun...I get told by people in tea shops oh it´s a bit too smokey for me...I try it and I don´t detect smoke. :shock:
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby debunix » Apr 26th, '10, 23:34

entropyembrace wrote:Hmmmm people keep saying Keemun has bite...or strong smokiness...but I never notice that...


I've only tried keemun a few times, the bitterness puts me off, but could never find the 'chocolate' that was supposed to be in there either.
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby chittychat » Apr 27th, '10, 00:03

I just was in a Korean grocery and asked if they have Hankook tea. The store owner looked at me and said, what do you mean. I wrote it down and he said, Hankook is Korean for Korea and there are many teas in Korea. :wink: Anyone asking for Chinese tea? :lol:
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby wyardley » Apr 27th, '10, 00:43

I will certainly defer to Charlie in this one, but my understanding has always been that Korean yellow tea is something completely different from Chinese yellow tea. I would be curious to hear exactly how the processing is done. But I'm thinking that maybe they are trying to use a name that's a little closer to what people unfamiliar with Korean yellow tea would expect, and to market it using a term that at least some people are more familiar with.

I wrote it down and he said, Hankook is Korean for Korea

Right; 한국(韓國) just means Korea. The OP is talking about the company referred to in English as "Hankook Tea Company" (한국제다). They have a brick and mortar store here in LA, but I don't think their product is that widely distributed in the US, and you are unlikely to find them in a Korean grocery store. Even in LA, which has a huge Korean population, probably the largest outside of Asia, you will most likely not find this type of tea in a Korean supermarket.

You can, however, buy from the company online.
http://www.hankooktea.com/ - Hankook Tea Company

Some other North American vendors I know of who sell Korean tea:

http://www.hanchatea.com/ - a local LA vendor introduced to me by another tea friend and teachat member. No hwang cha for sale on her site currently as far as I can tell, but I believe she stocks some.

http://daotea.ca - Canadian outfit, recommended by Mattcha, who certainly knows his Korean tea

http://franchia.com/ - Franchia and Hangawi are a vegetarian restaurant in NY. Their tea is very expensive, and at least one or two people who know more about Korean tea than I do are somewhat dismissive of what you get for what you pay. I am not sure if they still have online shopping

Online, at least, the Hankook Tea Company hwang cha is about $36 for 80g, so about $200/lb.
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Re: Hankook Oolong "yellow" Korean tea

Postby debunix » Apr 27th, '10, 01:12

I can confirm that at a side trip to a large, busy supermarket in Koreatown, there was no Hankook tea available: just powdered tea, green tea (some japanese, some chinese, some korean), and then a wide variety of non-C. sinensis 'teas'.
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