Korean and New Zealand teas

I just went to the Hong Kong International Tea Fair yesterday.  It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a tea expo, and this one was a bit different from when I went to the one in Shanghai during the height of the puerh boom.  Partly perhaps also because it’s Hong Kong, the kind of tea merchants who were here were much more international, and also quite diverse in their offerings.  Most of the sellers were, of course, from China, but very often from provinces that are lesser known, such as Guizhou or Hunan.  The selection of green tea was very diverse, whereas the more popular things, such as various types of oolong from Fujian, were fewer.  As for puerh, there were a smattering of makers there from the big factories, such as Menghai or Haiwan, but even Xiaguan was not there.  There were some producers from Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, and other places as well.

I think much of this was a product of the fact that many of the better known companies or types of tea simply don’t need the exposure at a tea fair, so they’re better off not coming and paying the expo fees instead of actually showing up.  For the lesser known, this is a great way to get some exposure that they otherwise won’t have.

I saw a few things that I know relatively little about.  The first is a company called Zealong, which makes oolong in New Zealand in the Taiwanese style.  The taste of the tea is very clean and crisp, and reminds me of decent Taiwanese high mountain oolong.  The company, according to their reps, was started by someone from Taiwan, and now has a few different teas.  It was interesting, although not terribly cheap.  I can imagine some place like New Zealand growing some interesting teas though.

I also met two Korean tea makers, and bought some of their products.  Korean tea tends to be green tea of various types, but one of them also made a white tea that had higher levels of oxidation, much akin to something like a baimudan with some age.  I bought some for personal consumption.  More on those later.

Another stop in Beijing before heading home on this trip.  Seeing some old tea friends from up north should be pretty interesting.  Stay tuned.


Comments

Korean and New Zealand teas — 5 Comments

  1. MarshalN,

    Thanks again for consistently posting such thought provoking material on your blog- Oolong from New Zealand?!?  Who would have thought?

    That Korean tea you have there sounds like the confusing anomaly “Bal hyo cha”.  It is a strange, Korean type of tea that is produced with a long period of wilting, then a yellowing procedure of shaping and rolling followed by a long drying period.  It is often finished by mellowing a few months.  Often Koreans refer to it as “Hwang Cha” (Eng. Yellow Tea) due to the yellowing phase which this tea undergoes.  Whether it is a white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, or red tea is the topic of discussion of a post that should appear on MattCha’s Blog within the next few weeks.

    Peace

  2. @Matt – 

    From the brief taste test I had at the tea fair, it doesn’t taste like yellow tea. The look of the leaves also most closely resemble baimudan, especially since he said it was only sun dried and not heated in any other way.

    @osososososos – 

    Will do!

  3. MarshalN,

    Hummm… interesting.  I’ve seen only one online Korean site selling Korean white, but have never tried any.

    Is there any white hair on the Korean tea you have there?  Balhyocha never has hair on it.  Baimudan and other white tea usually does.

    Perhaps this detailed post on the production of balhyocha (Korean ‘yellow’ tea) might shed some light on the issue:

    http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/what-exactly-is-korean-balhyocha-paryo_16.html

    The next post in this series looks at how to classify balhyocha… Is it white tea, red tea, yellow tea, or oolong tea?

    Peace

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