Finding tea in Korea

I don’t know what Toki does, but I remember when I first came here in Korea quite a few years ago, the going was tough.  Finding tea in Korea is not as easy as it seems, given all the teaware that they make.  You do start wondering, after a while, where all the Korean tea is, because they seem few and far between, whereas you can find Korean teaware pretty easily.

For somebody who comes from Hong Kong, where caffeinated tea can be found everywhere and where the default is to wash your food down with a little infused camellia sinensis, Korea can be rough.  I remember when I could get a real cup of tea in a very decent restaurant.  That was in Seoul.  Here in Pusan, it seems like the situation hasn’t changed that much.  Mind you, this is not to say that you can’t find any tea in Korea… you can.  Much of the time, however, they are teabags, and they are only offered if you look for it.  Coffee is the preferred drink here, and finding a regular cup of tea that will scratch that itch when you’re addicted to the stuff is not easy.

There also seem to be those nice tea stores that dot the city, as I’ve passed by a few signs that advertise such establishments while riding a car, but until I’ve got some time to go roam the place, I’ll have to settle with darjeeling teabags.  Why didn’t I bring my own tea?


Comments

Finding tea in Korea — 4 Comments

  1. Tea in Korea…In Seoul…In Insadong!

    If you have been to Seoul before, you already know that Insadong is one of the best places to go to find tea and teaware. Alas, not every shop will carry great tea or amazing teaware. However, I feel as if I might have found the solution to this!
    For the past several days I have sat down for tea at a lovely (and small) teashop/teaware gallery. It first caught my eye as I was wondering the narrow alleys of Insadong. The owner, a very nice woman, treated me to very fresh nokcha (green tea) but proceeded for the next five hours to take me through many of her other teas, all of which she sells to take home to brew. Her nokkcha from Jiri-san was excellent. This, she explained, was hand-picked and prepared by local monks. Her other teas were equally enjoyable, including a variety of Korean “Yellow Tea” which had a taste similar to Gold Thread black tea produced in Yunnan.
    Other teas offered were of the type I had not seen in other shops and were of excellent quality and freshness. I am returning to her shop tomorrow to try various types of Ddokcha, a type of green tea that has been compressed into a small disc or egg-shaped brick akin to a young pu-erh.
    As for her teaware, it is second to none. All is handmade and ages very well with use (as evidenced by her own teaware of the same artists which she has used for over a decade). She has information on all of her artists and she seems to favor the more rustic “Puncheong” style. The prices range from 10,000-50,000 Wan for smaller objects to 500,000 Wan for full sets but the price is worth it. I hope to purchase some teacups or maybe some chawan to bring back to America.
    I HIGHLY recommend her shop to anyone interested in Korean tea. She is very knowledgeable on the subject, as well as the teaware that best suits it. The name of her shop is Sam Hwa Ryong, Traditional Korean Tea & Tea Sets, telephone 02-722-1533, address 84-20 Kwanhoon-dong, Chongro-ku, Seoul, Korea. Tell her Scott sent you and she might remember me and show you much, much more in the way of tea. However, she seems to welcome all as friends into her tiny, though warm teashop. She is definitely my top tea pick in Seoul!

    Very Best,
    Scott Norton

  2. Thanks for the tip! I’m heading to Insadong this weekend to look for a yixing pot, but I will swing by the Tea Lady first. I have been here a year and I can’t find anything other than O’Sullocs, which is nice but unreasonable for my budget.

    Cheers and thanks again!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.