sparrow’s tongue

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During the last days of April and first couple of weeks in May, the tea plants in the southern part of the Korean peninsula begin sprouting their first buds of the year. The first, second, and third buds are valued for their delicate aroma and taste. Korea green tea is (in tea circles) usually referred to Sae -jak, or Sparrow’s Tongue, for its tiny, pointed appearance, almost like a poem…

By the end of May, the shops are advertising “Het-cha”, the newly made teas, priced according to the sequence that they were picked. The first April picking, called Ujeon, is the most expensive, about $80 for 100g from a high quality source. The second picking, Sejak, from the end of April or early May, will cost $60/100g. The third picking, Jungjak, picked later in May, is $4o dallors/100g.

Personally, I don’t bother with Ujeon. First, I actually prefer the stronger taste of the “lower quality” buds, but, also, it is such a delicate tea that buy the end of Fall the taste is already fading. I do however, give in to the extra $20 for Sejak, not that you’ll ever hear me turn down a cup of Jungjak, ah, but when I take that first sip…

I sit alone, deep in the mountains:

Worldly affairs are of no import.

Gate closed, I pass the days

in learning emptiness.

I examine my life.

I have no material goods,

just a bowl of fresh tea and

a book of scriptures

Ven. Sonsu (1543-1614)

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