Jakseolcha Made by Tea Expert
Organically Cultivated Tea Leaves Approved by the Government
‘Jakseolcha’ is a kind of green tea made with tea leaves which are picked in the gokwu period. Gokwu is one of the 24 seasonal subdivisions in the Chinese lunar calendar, and this year it is from April 20 to May 4 by the solar (Julian) calendar. It is generally said that tea leaves in this period have the best taste in Korea.
‘Myungdo Green Tea Co., Ltd.’ (MGTCL) has produced ‘jakseolcha’ for 40 years in Suncheon, Jeonnam-do Province, and has marketed it under the brand-name ‘Wild Jagsul Tea’. This tea is made by hand with tea leaves cultivated using an organic method without using any chemical insecticides or fertilizer. The production process of the tea involves roasting the leaves and drying them 9 times. This traditional method is maintained by Mr. Shin Kwang-soo, who has been designated a Master of Tea by the government. At present MGTCL tea is exported to Japan, America and Germany.
Best Quality Tea Internationally Recognized
Jakseolcha means in Korean ‘sparrow tongue-shaped tea leaves’, which are harvested when they are very young and small. These tea leaves have a subtle taste and a gorgeous scent. MGTCL has a tea plantation on an area of 0.4 km near a Buddhist temple called ‘Seonamsa’, and makes ‘jakseolcha’ using a traditional method which has been handed down from generation to generation in Mr. Shin’s family. Many of the tea bushes have been living for more than one century, in the unpolluted area of ‘Seonamsa’. MGTCL has not applied any agricultural chemicals to its tea bushes for 4 decades, which has enabled it to obtain a certificate for organic agricultural products from the government.
In the MGTCL tea plantation there are many bamboo trees growing which provide shade for the tea bushes. This fact also contributes to the tea leaves developing a good quality.
In Korea and some foreign countries, consumers consider MGTCL ‘jakseolcha’ a luxury product. This reputation is due very much to Mr. Shin’s endeavors, apart from the good quality of the ingredients. As a child he learned from his father how to make ‘jakseolcha’ by hand, and has stuck to the traditional method. He explains that, when ‘jakseolcha’ is made by machine, it easily loses its taste and general quality.
MGTCL ‘jakseolcha’ has been used by the Korean government as special gifts to diplomatic and cultural delegates from other countries. One such example was the presentation to a high-ranking North Korean politician in October 1992. The North Korean politician was officially invited to a dinner party arranged in ‘Cheongwadae’ (the South Korean presidential residence), and MGTCL ‘jakseolcha’ was chosen as a gift for him by the then South Korean president. This fact attracted interest from many local newspapers and television stations.
MGTCL tea also gained high praise in some tea contests held in Japan. At one such event, a Japanese law court judge was one of the judges for the contest, and he was very impressed by the quality of the Korean tea. Later, he visited Korea for the special purpose of viewing the MGTCL tea plantation and the tea production method.
Owing to its high quality, MGTCL ‘jakseolcha’ is enjoying tremendous popularity in Japan and America as well as in Korea.
‘Jakseolcha’ Packaged Using Traditional Materials
In order to maintain a high quality for its ‘jakseolcha’, MGTCL takes all possible measures. As mentioned already, the company harvests tea leaves in the gokwu period, as that variety has the best quality of the 4 different harvest seasons. Also, as mentioned, the harvested tea leaves are put through roasting and drying processes as many as 9 times. And the finished tea product is packaged as follows: in order to maintain the subtle taste of the tea, it is first wrapped in hanji (traditional Korean paper); then the wrapped tea product is covered with plastic film, and finally put into 40g silk bags. Then 2 bags are packed as a boxed set. In the domestic market MGTCL ‘jakseolcha’ is supplied to department stores and mainly purchased by high and middle class people. Mr. Shin, the president of MGTCL, is confident of the quality of the tea and has a special ambition: he is planning to explore markets in England and Japan, where tea is consumed much more than other countries.
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