What comes to your mind when you hear or see the word “Sejak Tea”? Perhaps you imagine it as a tea from one of the major tea producers such as China, or you probably think of it as a specialty tea. But what is Sejak tea really, and where does it originate?
Sejak tea is a type of tea harvested from South Korea during spring’s second picking. The term is typically associated with green tea grown from Jeju Island, so it’s common to find Sejak tea as green tea.
Are you surprised to find out that South Korea also produces tea? If you’re curious about Sejak tea’s origins and what it tastes like, then keep reading.
Where did it come from?
Because “Sejak” means the second flush or second picking, any Sejak tea can technically come from any tea plantation in South Korea. Although the Korean term for green tea is “Nokcha”, most merchants associate Sejak tea with green tea harvested from Jeju Island from late April to early May.
Jeju Island is located south of the Korean mainland, primarily known for its dormant volcano and beach resorts. This volcanic geography and landscape make the land perfect for growing tea bushes.
Unlike most Chinese green tea where the leaves are pan-fried, Sejak tea is partially steamed and then roasted. The farmers also shade the leaves partially during their growing phase. As a result, the tea tastes similar to how a Japanese sencha tastes.
What does it taste like? How to improve the taste?
As mentioned earlier, Sejak tea tastes close to Japanese sencha green tea. The steaming process gives the tea a broth-like, savory, vegetal taste, while the roasting gives it a nutty yet sweet finish. Some people might even notice a marine, seaweed-like profile to it.
Sejak tea is also quite delicate, so it’s easy to brew it for too long or use water that’s too hot. If this happens, the tea will get quite bitter and astringent, making it undrinkable for some.
However, if after brewing it properly, you decide you still don’t quite like the taste, you can try adding a drop of honey to your cup. The honey will give it some sweetness to counteract the herby, vegetal notes.
How to brew it?
While most guides will tell you to measure your tea leaves with teaspoons, you should avoid doing this as tea leaves don’t have the same shape. A teaspoon of small tea leaves has more tea than a teaspoon of larger leaves. As such, you should use a scale to measure your leaves precisely and to avoid inconsistent brew qualities.
Furthermore, brewing Sejak tea requires cooler water than what you usually use for green tea. You can use water that’s heated anywhere between 160 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit, or you can push it up to 180 if you’re precise with your tea leaves and brewing time. Any hotter and you risk making a bitter cup.
With that information, use anywhere between 3 to 5 grams of Sejak tea leaves to make a 12-ounce cup of tea. You can steep the tea for up to three minutes if you’re using cooler water or up to two minutes if your water is hotter. Adjust the brewing time inversely to your water temperature or the amount of tea you’re using.
You can also make a second cup from the same leaves you used earlier. Just make sure you brew it for longer so you can extract the flavor out of the leaves better. Five minutes should be a good brewing time for the second steep.
How much caffeine does it contain?
While it’s hard to measure how many grams of caffeine exactly this tea has, it’s likely similar to Sencha’s caffeine levels. That’s because their growing and roasting process is identical – partially shaded during growing, then steamed and roasted during processing.
If we’re measuring based on Sencha’s caffeine levels, the Sejak tea will likely have about 30-35 milligrams of caffeine. That value will vary depending on how much tea leaves you use, how long you steep the leaves, and how hot your water is.
How many carbs does it contain?
Sejak tea is just steamed and roasted tea leaves, so it should have little to no carbohydrates. If you’re trying to limit your carb intake or need to watch it for health-related reasons, you shouldn’t have problems drinking Sejak tea.
How many calories does it contain?
Unless you add sugar, honey, or other additives to your tea, Sejak tea should not have any calories. After all, it’s just leaves infused with water for a few minutes. If you’re concerned about caloric intake, you can be assured that a cup of Sejak tea without anything added won’t break your calorie limits.
How long does it last?
Green tea leaves, by default, don’t last long because they don’t hold their freshness well. Steamed leaves have an even shorter shelf life.
If you plan to store your Sejak tea, make sure it’s away from any light source and is airtight. The leaves should keep their freshness for about six to eight months. While you can still brew the tea if you’ve had it for a year or longer, expect it to lose some of its flavor and character.
If you think you’ll need to store your leaves for longer than a year, consider vacuum-sealing them. The lack of air will slow its aging and help keep its freshness for a bit longer.
However, if your bag is already opened or you’ve already transferred it to a container, make sure it’s airtight and away from the light. It should keep its freshness for about three months before going stale.