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Expert: ‘Red tea has astringent taste for wrong blending’

Expert: ‘Red tea has astringent taste for wrong blending’

Posted June. 21, 2014 07:12,   


Two grams, 400 ml, three minutes.

“Only check these three factors, when blending. Red tea is not astringent or bitter in itself. In most cases, prejudice in flavor has been consolidated because people blend in a wrong way.

This reporter visited a small office-residential unit in Seoul’s Mapo district. All different types of teas fill to its capacity the shelf on one of the walls. Moon Ki-yeong, 50, the author of a recently released book “Red tea lesson” opened one of the bottles, took out two grams of tea leaves, and measured it on the scale, before putting into the jar. He poured in 400 ml of fully boiled water, and pushed the timer button. Three minutes later, it tasted rather sweet, rather than bitter.

“If you want to give extra care, it is better to keep the boiling water in the tea jar and cup to warm up. For the very short moment while you pour the boiling water into the tea jar, it comes to contact with air, causing temperature to drop about five degrees Celsius. If the jar and cup are cold, the temperature could instantly drop 10 degrees.”

― Why do you make the water temperature as high as possible?

“Unlike green tea, red tea making undergoes a drying process, through which tea leaves are de-moisturized and get withered, rubbed with pressure to destroy cell membrane, before exposing it to air for one to four years to oxidize it. In the course of doing this, the color of the leaves changes like a peeled apple, and ingredients get concentrated. The hotter the water, the easier it is to concoct concentrated flavor. Tea that has been blended this way offers rich aroma and tastes good.”

― You previously worked in coffee marketing, and what made to be attracted to tea?

“I have been studying tea in earnest for just three years. There was no special reason. I came to study it because I wanted to know better this grateful thing that instilled peace in my mind. I worked with Dongsuh Foods for 16 years, and retired in 2010. I created a hobby club, read many foreign books as if studying for the bar exam for 10 hours a day from dawn to late at night. The book is the culmination of my study.”

― I think that the gap between the size of the coffee and tea markets in Korea would be fairly large….

“Coffee mix (mix of coffee, cream and sugar) consumption started to grow explosively from 2004. I wondered why such imbalance occurred. I found the reason while studying. As for coffee mix, it tastes okay even if you prepare coffee without caring much. Sugar offsets many drawbacks of the coffee mix. But as for tea bag, you often place it containing 1 to 1.2 grams in the cup for more than five minutes in an attempt to adequately blend it. We came to gain the prejudice that tea offers ‘astringent or bitter taste,’ because it is difficult for us to encounter well blended tea.”

― What made you focus on red tea?

“Price is reasonable, and production process is transparent, and as a result quality is consistent. What I enjoy for red tea these days are Afternoon Ceylon No. 6 from Harrods and Nilgiri Havukal from Fortnum & Mason. The British Queen Elizabeth II drinks the same tea. There is no difference in quality. I don’t like tea that is sold at a high price by placing package label suggesting ‘A small quantity of precious tea that was appreciated by Deng Xiaoping has been released to the market.’ There is no such tea among red teas.

― How do you usually purchase products?

“Products such as Mariage Frères from France are still not imported to Korea. I buy them directly from overseas vendors, through an agency, or purchase in a large quantity when taking a trip. To people who just enter the world of tea, I recommended red tea from Ronnefeldt with addition of scent from Germany. With your coffee, you start with latte, and then move on to drip from coffee beans. It is the easiest way to experience ‘tasty tea.’"