The founding of green tea has been credited to Shennong, who is regarded as the first emperor of ancient China. Although the idea of steeping leaves in hot water was uncovered by accident, the result was a delicious beverage that was quickly adopted into Chinese culture. Through the travels of Buddhist priests from different countries, tea quickly made its way to other parts of the world. Korea is one of the places where tea quickly became popular.
In Korea, there are four different grades of green tea produced each year. These grades are determined by the harvest date and the age of the leaves when they are gathered. Jungjak tea, whose translated name means “medium sparrow,” is one of the available grades.
Korean Green Tea Grades
When the leaves are harvested, what size the leaves and buds are, and how the leaves are harvested all determine what category of Korean tea is being produced. While the different grades don’t equate to some teas being “good” and others being “bad,” it does categorize the tea based on taste and availability.
Aside from the Jungjak tea grade, there are also Ujeon tea leaves, Sejak tea leaves, and Daejak tea leaves. Each category can be identified by distinct characteristics, specific harvest times, and certain gathering methods.
Picked during the first harvest, these buds are gathered in the days before April 20. These fragile, tiny buds are hand-picked prior to the early spring rains. When used to brew green tea, they produce a beverage that is subtle and sweet.
The second harvest of the year produces leaves for sejak tea. Translated, the name means “thin sparrow.” This crop, made up of mainly hand-picked buds and young leaves, is harvested between April 20 and May 5. When used to brew green tea, they produce a beverage that has a mild and vegetal taste.
This grade of tea leaves is gathered during the fourth and final harvest of the season. Taking place around the middle to end of June, daejak tea leaves are mature and larger than those of the previous three harvests. Unlike the other leaves, these are gathered with the use of machines. Known for producing tea that has a grassier taste mixed with subtle hints of roasted nuts, these tea leaves are common in Korea.
Harvesting & Processing Jungjak Tea
The third harvest of the year produces this type of tea leaf. Translated, jungjak means “medium sparrow,” which is in reference to the size of leaves that are gathered. While they are not as young and tender as the leaves plucked during the second harvest, they are not yet mature.
Starting on May 20 and continuing until just before the start of the fourth harvest, these medium-sized leaves are hand-picked and then roasted to stop the oxidation process. When fully processed, the leaves are dark green in color, have a coarse texture, and appear rippled.
Brewing Jungjak Tea
The toasty- and fresh-scented jungjak leaves are easy to brew, whether choosing to use tea bags or exploring with loose leaves. In just a few steps, a fresh and tasty cup of jungjak tea can be brewed.
Brewing with Tea Bags
There are four steps to follow when brewing jungjak tea from a sachet.
- Boil some water (preferably spring) and let it cool until it reaches approximately 158°F.
- Pour between 8-10 oz of the heated water into your mug or cup and then place the tea bag into the hot water.
- For the best tasting results, the tea bag should steep for one minute.
- Once the minute is up, the tea bag can be removed. If you are not adding any sweeteners, you can go ahead and enjoy!
When brewing loose-leaf green tea, there are five different steps that should be followed to create a fantastic cup of tea. They are similar to brewing tea using a tea bag.
- Just as with making tea with the tea sachet, boil some water (preferably spring) and let it cool until it reaches approximately 158°F.
- Once the water has reached the correct temperature, pour between 8-10 oz into a teapot.
- Measure out 1-2 tsp of tea leaves and put them into the teapot with the hot water.
- For the best tasting results, the tea leaves should steep 30-45 seconds.
- Once the leaves are finished steeping, strain them out with a strainer and enjoy your fresh brew! (The tea leaves can be saved a reused or another brew.)
Appearance & Taste
Once brewed, a fresh cup of Korean jungjak tea is a bright yellowish-golden color. The toasty aroma of this tea is complemented by its nutty and grassy flavor. Some have even described the taste as falling somewhere between subtly sweet and slightly savory.
Nutritional Value & Caffeine Content
With zero calories, carbs, fats, and proteins, Jungjak tea has little nutritional value. This Korean variety, like other green teas, varies from 30-50 mg of caffeine per cup. The caffeine content varies because of three factors: the tea tree’s growing conditions, the processing methods used on the leaves and buds after harvest, and how the leaves are brewed.
Korean green tea, which was adopted from the Chinese culture centuries ago, is very popular and can be categorized into four different grades. Jungjak tea, gathered during the third harvest of the year in early to mid-summer, is one of these grades.
Known for its golden color, toasty smells, and vegetal flavor with notes of roasted nuts, this green tea variety is easy to brew and enjoy at home. Since the lush leaves have been hand-picked, you know that a lot of time, dedication, and preparation went into the handling and care of these delicate, medium-sized leaves.