|Posted on April 28, 2014 at 6:10 PM|
So, what makes Jirisan, Hwagae green tea (nokcha) so special? Tea bushes have been planted on the southern slopes of Jiri Mountain in rocky, mineral rich soil and nourished with the best that mother nature has to offer in an ideal growing environment.
Wild (yasaeng) and semi-wild tea bushes can be seen growing undisturbed on craggy mountain slopes. Fresh mountain air, pure Jiri Mountain runoff water, rolling fog which originates from mountain streams and the Seomjin River carpets Hwagae Valley.
During March and April, one can feel the crisp misty mornings which deposit dew droplets on the surface of awakening tea leaves from their winter dormancy. It's an invigorating feeling for both humans and tea bushes.
Around mid- April, depending on weather conditions, is when the first choicest hand plucked tea buds mark the beginning of the annual spring tea harvest sometime before the first spring rainfall called 'Gogu' by Korean tea farmers. Gogu which is based on the Asian lunar calendar, and occurs around April 20 give or take one week before or after that date. The tea shrubs will usually experience cool mornings followed by sudden and rapid changes in daytime temperatures. It can be 10-15 celsius in the morning, then rise to 18-22 celsius by mid- afternoon. Sunny and breezy afternoons are followed by short intermittent rainfalls which are ideal conditions for growing highly fragrant and tasty bud and leaf tea.
So, the next time you sip Jirisan, Hwagae Valley green tea (nok-cha), if only for a fleeting moment, ponder the ideal conditions of geography, soil, climate, and the tea growers nurturing of the tea bushes which created that simple, but exquisite tasting cup of spring dew called ujeon (woo-jeon).