Korea. Travel futures and logs!

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Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby Chip » May 19th, '12, 22:45

Please consider this a perennial topic on member travels to Korea ... whether in the past, present or even future. So, please share your journey experience with us.

I will sticky this topic for now.

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby john.b » May 8th, '15, 05:28

I was just there in February! I wrote a lot on it in a tea blog, which I'll cite one post of here, and also ramble on a bit:

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/2015/04/korean-black-tea-review-plus-tea-haul.html

The post entries were on black tea (that one), yellow tea (which I mentioned in another thread here), more on travel in Seoul, and one on online research prior, so only two were really review-themed.

What to say about Korean tea? I've only actually tried three, so it's almost all extrapolation to say anything, beyond summarizing what other people said. We were just in Japan on the same trip and I bought 4 teas from there, and 4 from China (couldn't not buy them in the Yokohama Chinatown), and the vacation definitely wasn't about tea, so it didn't get far.

Koreans are really into tisanes more, and it's much easier to find tea shops as cafes than dry tea shops, so aside from grocery stores not so easy to come by tea. I'd have loved to have went a bit further and dropped another $100 on over-priced Korean teas to get the full story, but the sticking point was the need to waste another full day of looking in Seoul, or at least half-day. The vacation theme was about amusement parks and trying to cover two countries in less than two weeks was a stretch. Luckily we'd been to both before or logistics would've overwhelmed us, but it was tough as it was.

You'd think Korea might be way too cold to grow tea but apparently not. I was there in winter once and it was bitter cold, plenty cool enough to kill any tea varietal, but then I guess in the far south out on Jeju Island or somewhere tucked away maybe not. They have their own tea tradition but it's not like China or Japan (or wherever else, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, etc.) where people are always drinking it. Come to think of it in China coffee is perhaps more popular with urban younger people, those in their 20s and 30s, but I digress.

They generally prefer green tea, so I blew it by buying a yellow and black tea in the better shop I was in. The plan was to keep looking, which I did, but the green tea I bought was a bit sub-standard, in a traditional market area where I'd hoped to also find dok-cha, their compressed tea version (like pu'er, but not like pu'er--which I didn't find). Those teas were interesting, and sort of nice in their own way, but Chinese teas are so good and diverse across a broad mid-grade range that the bar is kind of high just to be decent elsewhere.

I had great luck in Vietnam with that (another tangent), but in Korea I needed more exposure to get to teas that really rang a bell. I stepped into a couple tea cafes that were on the amazing side, rough-edged but homey wood-panneled places, or a tiny spot with a cool stove and seating for only about 10 people, if they were friends, with wonderful smells of sweet herbs from all the odd mixtures they were drinking. Given I was pressed for time I stepped right back out of those places looking for some elusive loose teas.

I like to leave a bit undone when I vacation to serve as a goal for next time but in Korea it was too much, and in Japan too, I barely got started. I found an elusive black tea there (wakoucha), and was introduced to hojicha (roasted green tea; I never said I was already a tea veteran), but there's another thread here for that, and I'm short on details there too.

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby Hannah » Sep 21st, '15, 23:35

Thought I might bring this thread back from the dead along with my post activity lately :lol:


Who has some info on Korean tea in general? I tried searching through old posts but couldn't really find anything..


Heading to Seoul in December after we head to Japan, was hoping to pick up some teas while I'm there but can't find where a good source would be for local varieties.. Does anyone have ANY info on this? :)


Apart from tea, does anyone have any info on nice teaware shops I could pop into in Seoul?


Hope everyone here has been well!! I've missed the forum! :mrgreen:

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby iGo » Sep 23rd, '15, 18:49

PMed you.

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby Tead Off » Oct 11th, '15, 00:17

Hannah wrote:Thought I might bring this thread back from the dead along with my post activity lately :lol:


Who has some info on Korean tea in general? I tried searching through old posts but couldn't really find anything..


Heading to Seoul in December after we head to Japan, was hoping to pick up some teas while I'm there but can't find where a good source would be for local varieties.. Does anyone have ANY info on this? :)


Apart from tea, does anyone have any info on nice teaware shops I could pop into in Seoul?


Hope everyone here has been well!! I've missed the forum! :mrgreen:

Hi Hannah,

In Seoul, if you go to the area called Insadong, there are tea sellers, cafes, and plenty of galleries for teaware and ceramics. Insadong is a street you can walk for several blocks. On the left side, just across from the first or second street that comes into it from the right, there is Mr. Ha's shop. He owns farms in Hwagae, Korea's best tea producing area. They sell their line at the shop. There are other sellers but you'll have to keep your eyes open. Balhyocha, also called Hwangcha, means yellow tea. This is my favorite kind of Korean tea, sort of a mix between black and oolong.

Just north of Insadong, between the two old palaces, is a beautiful area of Seoul that is great for walking around. Old style houses, galleries, cafes, restaurants. Read a guide book! :D

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby john.b » Oct 26th, '15, 04:43

I had the most luck in Insadong there, but it could take some doing. I found one decent shop in relatively short order but it might have worked better to have a few hours to look around.

I only saw teas a few places but from that experience they are expensive enough that it's not the kind of place many people would be happy picking up a lot and sorting out what's ok later, since most was in the general $1 / gram price range.

One gets the impression a Google search in Korean characters might go a lot better. The main shop you read of online is O'Sulloc, which I didn't make it to, maybe it's great, maybe just a cafe and you can't buy much loose tea there:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g294197-d2090976-Reviews-O_sulloc_Tea_House_Insadong_Store-Seoul.html

That's not actually their website link, because you'd need to look this up to find that: 오설록. Once you do the page is all in Korean anyway:

http://www.osulloc.com/mainF.do

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby Tead Off » Nov 5th, '15, 22:35

O'Sulloc is a very slick store on Insadong that showcases their own teas and assorted teaware. It's a very nice shop to go into. They serve free tea but you don't have to buy anything. Their teas are grown on Jeju Island and many are roasted greens. Not bad, but not on the level that is grown in the Hadong area near Jiri Mountain.

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby john.b » Nov 6th, '15, 01:10

Tead Off wrote:O'Sulloc is a very slick store on Insadong that showcases their own teas and assorted teaware. It's a very nice shop to go into..


Have you been there recently? I'm curious about the range of prices for good teas from Korea, since on that visit all I saw were a bit much, around $1 a gram, give or take. Do you remember the general range of pricing?

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby Tead Off » Nov 7th, '15, 00:26

john.b wrote:
Tead Off wrote:O'Sulloc is a very slick store on Insadong that showcases their own teas and assorted teaware. It's a very nice shop to go into..


Have you been there recently? I'm curious about the range of prices for good teas from Korea, since on that visit all I saw were a bit much, around $1 a gram, give or take. Do you remember the general range of pricing?

O'sulloc was never any interest to me. I bought some of their roasted tea because it was different and pleasant, and inexpensive. This was a few years back. I have no idea of their current pricing, but I wouldn't recommend their teas over Jiri Mountain teas. Good ujeon is at least $1 per gram. Good sejak, about half of ujeon, and often tastier. Hwangcha or Balhyocha is the best buy. This is a semi-oxidized tea that is very tasty and a personal favorite of mine. Less expensive than the green teas. You can also age them.

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Re: Korea. Travel futures and logs!

Postby john.b » Apr 20th, '16, 07:27

Kind of strange adding this here in this section, but I wrote a review article on a tea from North Korea, with a lot in that post about how I got the tea. It's next to impossible to find it because the internet doesn't extend to North Korea, at least not a version outsiders can access, or related to them getting out.

The tea was ok, decent. If it was tea from China it would just be a reasonable Longjing style knock-off, the green version, with the black tea version a nice tea but not really a true black tea, so stylistically in no man's land. Or maybe I'm not doing either justice since I really did like the teas, and they weren't really just like any others I've tried.

Anyway, here's the post, about how I did access them along with a full review of both:

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/2016/04/mission-impossible-reviewing-teas-from.html

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