This was a delightful sample of traditional Korean style tea that I received from Matt. If you haven't visited his blog yet, you don't know what you're missing. I often go over there just to see his wonderful photos.
According to Matt, "this tea was produced in eight steps. The first step involves the hand picking of this tea, in the clean and serene Jiri Mountain valley at a wild tea plantation just outside Hadong on the 10th of May, 2008. Secondly, the tea is dried in a large, gas-fired aluminum cauldron for 20 minutes. This acts to partially stop its oxidization. Next, the tea is removed from the cauldron and is placed on a rough, fibrous rush mat where it is violently rolled by hand. At this step the leaves break a little giving way to a reaction between tea and air. Then the tea is shade dried where it is exposed to the open air of the mountain valley for 48 hours. Next, the tea is separated and weighed into 100 gram piles. Then the leaves are steamed to soften them. When the leaves are supple they are pressed into cakes. Finally, they are left to dry in a warm room for 3-5 days."
According to Cha Dao, ddok cha "is a form of Korean compressed tea. The term ddok refers to the pounding method used to process the tea. In tradition, a pestle and mortar or a mallet and plank were employed. The name ddok is popularly thought to come from the sound of pounding with a large, wooden mallet on a large, thick wood plank: ddok, ddok, ddok."
The leaves smell fruity and light, similar to many Chinese greens I've had. When put in a heated kyusu, a caramelized sweetness emerges. The tea itself is light, fruity, sweet, with a distinct green finish and a delicate but full mouthfeel with layers of nuance. Everything that I like about Chinese green tea, only better.
Matt, thanks so much for my first introduction to Korean tea.