|Posted on July 7, 2012 at 1:10 AM|
Today, I took a casual morning stroll across the Sinchon bridge which connects to Sinchon village located in Jirisan, Hwagae Myeon when I heard the familiar buzzing sounds of mechanical shears cropping tea bushes. This scene plays out every year during the rainy season and can be heard throughout the mountainous villages here in Hwagae Valley. Frantic tea farmers are busy harvesting tea leaves before the humid and damp rainy season. Even during the rainy season there are days when there are pauses between rainfalls. This gives tea farmers the opportunity to mechanically harvest the mid-summer tea material.The only tea leaf material that is being harvested here is of Daejak (대작) quality. That is, large, open, coarse, and leafy foliage which is primarily used for teabag material. It usually has a strong and somewhat bitter taste profile. It is on these days, that one can sit down and relax to a warm pot of tasty early spring Jirisan nokcha (green tea) or balhyocha (fermented/oxidized tea) to the sounds of raindrops and reflect on this year’s productive tea season harvest with a grin of satisfaction.I stopped and asked the tea pluckers in this picture several questions about their mornings harvest. I found out that each green mesh bag contained about 25 kilograms/55 pounds of coarse leafy tea material. They had collected about 25 such bags which they were in the process of loading onto the blue truck. The tea was bound for the Ssanggye Jeddah tea processing plant to be processed and used to make teabags. Incredibly, they were only going to get paid 1,000 korean won per kilogram of tea material!