Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

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Mar 31st 15 7:58 am
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Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by tenoh271 » Mar 31st 15 7:58 am

Peace. I am planning a trip to Seoul, S. Korea for the end of the year, and would welcome recommendations for tea and teawares
shops worth visiting in Insadong or other areas within Seoul.

Additionally, am also undecided about a day trip to the Icheon Ceramics Village, and would be happy to receive suggestions on whether Icheon is worth the visit? (While a tea-teawares focused trip is desired, other attractions in Seoul abound).
Any particularly visit-worthy shop in Icheon?

On another note, are there any noteworthy tea ware shops in Suwon? Is it possible to combine both Suwon and Icheon in a day trip from Seoul?

Any recommendation and suggestion would be most welcomed and appreciated, thank you very much.

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Apr 15th 15 5:31 am
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Re: Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by chrl42 » Apr 15th 15 5:31 am

Go to Cheon Ye Myung Ho (天藝茗壺) in Insadong, Mr.Bae is pretty well-known in Korea (yet you might need some $$)..but Insadong is not generally good for shopping teas, many shops are just to attract foreigners..small amount it's okay.

Suwon has Geo Gi Da Won..not visited yet but hell famous..the owner is a top-ranked kyara wood and Yixing expert in Korea.

Apr 26th 15 12:07 pm
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Re: Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by tenoh271 » Apr 26th 15 12:07 pm

Thank you very much for the suggestions, chrl42. Will keep an eye out when I pay visit there, thanks again. :)

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Oct 16th 15 3:27 am
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Re: Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by john.b » Oct 16th 15 3:27 am

I just visited Seoul in April and did a lot of reading up about tea shops in advance, and it really didn't help that much. I had the most success just walking around Insadong, and even then the results weren't that great. I bought interesting black and yellow teas but they weren't really great, just unique in character, and the cost was a bit much, in the dollar a gram range.

I was just mentioning somewhere else on here online search for interesting old-style local tea shops in Asia is a real challenge. I talked to a tea blogger in Seoul in advance and she wasn't that much help either; she said she buys a lot of teas at local expos (they have something like conventions in Bangkok but for product sales; must be the same thing). That would only help if the timing was incredibly lucky, matching your visit. My general impression was that the production of tea is so limited in Korea and demand so significant you will end up paying a lot for decent tea and finding really good tea is a big challenge. You'd almost have better luck ordering it online in the States; you'd still pay up, but at least the sourcing could get sorted by someone else.

Don't give up though; double-down on the research and you might get lucky. I did run across an amazing herb market there (where I only bought low-grade green tea I didn't like much; they mainly sold herbs), which might be worth a look if herbs are of interest, especially ginseng:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyeongdong_Market

Even though this link or Trip Advisor or Google Maps say where it is finding it is a challenge, so get the planning as clear as possible first then be prepared to wander a little. It's only 3 blocks or so from the closest subway stop so getting there isn't so tricky but you could be right beside it and sort of not know.

It's almost worth visiting there for the smell; it's like you climbed into a giant bag of the best smelling potpourri anyone ever created. There is a fish market a block or so over that would give you a comparison of how old-style Asian markets usually smell (maybe not worth going there to experience that), but it's on the other side of the subway stop direction, so maybe you'd not end up over there, or would be lost if you did.

Oct 16th 15 3:44 am
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Re: Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by tenoh271 » Oct 16th 15 3:44 am

Thank you very much, John.b. Your advice and suggestions are helpful and very much appreciated. It is good to know what to expect.

I suppose I will just need to explore Insadong and the surrounding areas, whether they yield any tea or tea wares, though I read that teawares are more aplenty than tea in Seoul/Korea. So far, I have only one recommendation of a teashop in Insadong from a fellow tea acquaintance. Will be checking that out.

Many thanks, peace.

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Oct 28th 15 4:07 am
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Re: Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by john.b » Oct 28th 15 4:07 am

If you wanted to do a lot of background reading on tea from Korea that is out there, just leads on good shops are hard to turn up. I even have a Facebook friend that's a Korean tea blogger, so you'd think that's a sure way to get the inside story, but that didn't help.

Two information sources stood out as best for Korean teas, although it's not like someone would ever completely sort out information sources:

http://anthony.sogang.ac.kr/

http://mattchasblog.blogspot.dk/


Ordinarily I'd get ahold of the source authors directly to ask about the tea more but in both cases that didn't work, this time.

I might mention someone just reminded me of those in a Facebook group I help moderate, the International Tea Talk group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1647370545538088/

Dec 16th 15 2:25 pm
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Re: Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by tenoh271 » Dec 16th 15 2:25 pm

Thanks a million John.b, for the info and resources provided. :)

I have been to and back from Seoul, and acquired a small stash of Korean artisan tea wares and some teas.

The background info you gave has been very illuminating on all fronts, and I had a better idea of what I would encounter there, so, many thanks!

Peace.

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Mar 10th 16 9:48 am
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Re: Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by john.b » Mar 10th 16 9:48 am

I was just looking around here again, and noticed this didn't end with more information about tea. Is there anything you can add about what you bought and tried?

As a start towards that, my impression is that most of the tea is produced and drank as green tea in South Korea (aside from tisanes; more of that category really), but that black tea and other types that don't categorize so easily are also sold. I bought one tea as a yellow tea but my understanding now, which isn't an expert opinion, just where I've left off, is that it's related to Chinese yellow tea but not really the same thing.

I only saw tea that was really inexpensive or really expensive there, essentially not much in between, although maybe a little in a grocery store that didn't look exceptional could've been interpreted as middle ground. What different people mean by those categorizations would vary, and what's fair for a tea varies by quality level (and supply and demand issues, etc.) but it sort of works to say that inexpensive tea might run around $5 for 50 grams, middle grades $10-15 for that quantity, and anything over $20 is starting to better relate to quality teas, with teas at $40 to 50 per 50 grams on a different level.

Most of what I saw for sale was more like $30 per 50 grams, a bit pricey, and what I bought really wasn't worth what I paid if compared to other equivalent or better teas I've bought for much less elsewhere.

Mar 23rd 16 11:36 am
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Re: Teas and Tea Wares in Seoul, S.Korea

by tenoh271 » Mar 23rd 16 11:36 am

John.B, your impressions about tea in Seoul would not be inaccurate, as far as it did confirm my own observations. Tisanes/medical herbs are the major kind of 'teas' in S. Korea, not Camellia Sinensis. What was more fascinating to me is the prevalence of Chinese tea, specifically Puerh Tea - aged and ripe - as a sort of trend or fad there. That was the impression I got since I saw more tea shops advertising Puerh in Insadong and the surrounding areas than I did Korean tea, with the major exception of O'Sulloc.

I did manage to visit two more specialised teashops in Insadong which deal with Korean teas, and bought some Sejak (2nd tier grade), Jungjak (3rd tier), Daejak (further down the scale, about 4th, maybe) and a Balhyocha (sort of the the Korean equivalent to the yellow tea in Chinese teas). I finished the Daejak and have enjoyed it tremendously as a more roasty version - and less of a gastric irritant - of similar Japanese greens. I have never tried yellow teas before, so have no basis for comparison, but Balhyocha has notes of red tea to me, and a fruity tone which I find soothing. While perhaps pricey for the kind of taste profile it offers, I liked it enough to stock up a bit.

You are right that Korean teas are relatively expensive compared to their comparable quality cousins elsewhere, but I don't really begrudge them that, though if Korean teas are to have a bigger market presence domestically or as an export curiosity, the price will have to go way down.

Thanks for your postings, John.B, they have provoked more learning for me. Many thanks, again.

Peace.