nokcha (green tea)
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According to the Record of Gaya, cited in the Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, the legendary queen Heo Hwang-ok, a princess of Ayodhya, brought the Camellia sinensis (var. assamica) tea plant from India to Korea and planted it on Baegwolsan, a mountain that borders the city of Changwon. In practice, however, Labrador tea and fruit teas, such as magnolia berry tea and goji berry tea, were more widely used in the Samhan Era instead.
It is a widely held belief that the systematic planting of tea bushes began with the introduction of Chinese tea culture by Buddhist monks some centuries later. Some of the earliest Buddhist temples in Korea, such as Bulgapsa, Bulhoesa, and Hwaeomsa, claim to be the birthplace of Korean tea culture. The import of Chinese tea products started during the reign of Queen Seondeok of Silla (631‒647), when two types of tea bricks, jeoncha (전차; 磚茶) and dancha (단차; 團茶), were imported from the Tang Empire. In 765, a Buddhist monk is said to have presented an offering of the tea to King Gyeongdeok and the Buddha. Camellia sinensis tea plants spread throughout the country in 828, when King Heungdeok received seeds from the Tang Empire and sent them to be planted on the Jirisan mountain. Tea was usually offered to the Buddha, as well as to the spirits of deceased ancestors.
Tea culture continued to prosper during the Goryeo Dynasty. Tea offering was a part of the biggest national ceremonies, such as Yeondeunghoe and Palgwanhoe, and tea towns were formed around temples. During the reign of King Myeongjong (1131‒1202), Seon-Buddhist manners of ceremony prevailed. Jeong Mongju and other scholars enjoyed tea poetry, dasi (다시; 茶詩), and tea meetings, dahoe (다회; 茶會). The state of daseonilchi (다선일치; 茶禪一致; "tea and seon in accord") was eulogized.
During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Korean tea culture underwent secularization . The royal family and aristocracy used tea for simple rites, a practice referred to as darye (다례; 茶禮, "tea rite"), which is often translated as "etiquette for tea". Towards the end of the Joseon Dynasty, commoners adopted the practice of using tea for ancestral rites. The word charye (차례; 茶禮, "tea rite"), cognate to darye, now refers to jesa (ancestral rite). In the past, the two terms were synonymous, as ancestral rites often involved offerings of tea to the ancestors. Wedding ceremonies also included tea offerings. The practice of packing tea into small cakes, which lost popularity in China during the 14th century, continued in Korea until the 19th century.
Although tea from the Camellia sinensis plant is not as popular as the coffee in South Korea - with the annual South Korean tea consumption at 0.16 kg (0.35 lb) per capita, compared to 3.9 kg (8.6 lb) for coffee - grain teas are served in many restaurants instead of water. Herbal and fruit teas are commonly served, both hot and cold.
From Camellia sinensis
- Nokcha (녹차; 綠茶; "green tea")
Green tea, the most common form of Korean leaf tea, is an unoxidized tea made from the dried leaves of the tea plant. Nokcha can be classified into various types based on several different factors. The most common is the flush, or the time of the year when the leaves are plucked (and thus also by leaf size): these varieties are named ujeon (우전; 雨前; "pre-rain"), sejak (세작; 細雀; "thin sparrow"), jungjak (중작; 中雀; "medium sparrow"), and daejak (대작; 大雀; "big sparrow").
Loose leaf tea is called ipcha (잎차) or yeopcha (엽차; 葉茶), while powdered tea is called garu-cha (가루차) or malcha (말차; 末茶) . Roasted deokkeum-cha (덖음차; "roasted tea") are more popular than steamed jeungje-cha (증제차; 蒸製茶; "steamed tea").
Southern, warmer regions such as Boseong, Hadong, and Jeju are famous for producing high quality tea leaves. Banya-cha (반야차; 般若茶; "prajñā tea") and Jungno-cha (죽로차; 竹露茶; "bamboo dew tea") among others are renowned. Nokcha can be blended with other ingredients, such as roasted brown rice to make hyeonmi-nokcha (현미녹차; 玄米綠茶; "brown rice green tea") or lemon to make remon-nokcha (레몬 녹차; "lemon green tea").
- Tteokcha (떡차; "cake tea") or byeongcha (병차; 餠茶; "cake tea")
A post-fermented tea brick. Borim-cha (보림차; 寶林茶) or Borim-baengmo-cha (보림백모차; 寶林白茅茶), named after its birthplace, the Borim temple in Jangheung, South Jeolla Province, is a popular tteokcha variety.
- Doncha (돈차; "money tea"), jeoncha (전차; 錢茶; "money tea") or cheongtaejeon (청태전; 靑苔錢; "green moss coin") is a post-fermented tea brick, made into the shape of yeopjeon, the Joseon coins with holes.
Other leaf teas
(pine leaf tea)
|백엽차(柏葉茶)||Korean pine needles|
(white mountain tea)
|백산차(白山茶)||Labrador tea leaves|
|박하차(薄荷茶)||East Asian wild mint leaves|
(bamboo leaf tea)
(persimmon leaf tea)
|감잎차||Oriental persimmon leaves|
|황산차(黃酸茶)||Lapland rosebay leaves|
(sweet dew tea)
|mountain hydrangea leaves|
(rugose rose tea)
|매괴차(玫瑰茶)||rugose rose leaves|
(mulberry leaf tea)
|뽕잎차||white mulberry leaves|
(pine leaf tea)
|솔잎차||Korean red pine needles|
(lotus leaf tea)
(peach flower tea)
(pagoda flower tea)
|구절초차(九節草茶)||white-lobe Korean dendranthema flowers|
|국화차(菊花茶)||Indian chrysanthemum flowers|
(cinnamon flower tea)
|계화차(桂花茶)||Chinese cinnamon flowers|
(citrus flower tea)
(plum flower tea)
|매화차(梅花茶)||Chinese plum blossoms|
|목련차(木蓮茶)||kobus magnolia flowers|
(lotus flower tea)
(lotus flower tea)
(citrus peel tea)
(five fruit tea)
(smoked plum tea)
(magnolia berry tea)
(cornelian cherry tea)
(hardy orange tea)
Grain, bean, and seed teas
(brown rice tea)
(mung bean tea)
(Job's tears tea)
Root, shoot, and bark teas
(angelica root tea)
|당귀차(當歸茶)||Korean angelica root|
(balloon flower root tea)
|도라지차||balloon flower root|
(Solomon's seal tea)
|둥굴레차||Solomon's seal root|
|Chikcha / Galgeun-cha
(arrow root tea)
|East Asian arrow root|
|계피차(桂皮茶)||Chinese cinnamon bark|
(red ginseng tea)
(ginseng root hair tea)
|미삼차(尾蔘茶)||Korean ginseng root hair|
(lotus root tea)
Combination and other teas
|동아차||winter melon flesh|
winter melon seeds
(goji chrysanthemum tea)
black sesame seeds
jakseol green tea leaves
(citrus ginger tea)
(brown rice green tea)
green tea leaves
|Ssanghwa-tang||쌍화탕(雙和湯)||white woodland peony root|
Mongolian milkvetch root
Korean angelica root
Chinese cinnamon bark
magnolia berry-infused water
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