Hankook Tea's organic line is produced exclusively at its organic tea garden in Jangseong, South Jeolla Province. It is certified the highest level organic (dark green label as seen above) using the Korean organic labeling system as well as through the USDA. The difference between the way the Hankook's organic fields are tended and the way Hankook's non-organic fields are tended is that the organic garden only uses organic plant based fertilizer. Perhaps as a result Mina from Hankook Tea feels that this organic line is lighter and fresher than the non-organic line whereas the non-organic line has more depth. She also feels that the organic line holds longer when steeping large amount of leaves gong fu style. Of course, she enjoys both lines depending on what she wants to get out of her tea that day.
Mina kindly sent Hankook's whole organic line, so lets see what Hankook's Organic teas are all about and start off with the "Chut Mool" saejak...
The dry leaves give off a very clean, fresh forest smell with deeper, roasty, woodier forest notes that are more faint and come later underneath softer, fresh green. The leaves are of mixed size and shape but are relatively small and hold a deep green with light lime green edges on some of the smaller leaves. They are added to a warm pot and steeped with water that has cooled significantly in the cooling bowl.
The first infusion has very soft, fluffy, florals which greet the mouth and softly waft into a mellow sweetness. There are soft fresh green forest notes supporting pure light sweet florals. The mouthfeel is full and soft and produces some saliva in the mouth. The aftertaste is long with a fluffy, creamy, floral-sweet finish. The Qi is mellow- right off the bat the mind is calm.
The second infusion pours a syrupy fresh forest initial taste turns into somewhat thick, goopy, but fresh florals. There is a long distinctly chalky-fresh floral aftertaste. The mouthfeel is thick, chalky, but soft and fluffy. The qi present with undulating waves passing through the body.
The third infusion starts much the same as the second infusion. The florals seem relatively lighter here but still very distinct- very much the same taste as the second infusion. the florals have more of a tangy, livelier edge. The aftertaste of strong floral gives away to some glimpses hiding fruit tastes that become distinct fresh melon notes.
In the fourth infusion starts off with that fresh, chalky, soupy, green forest taste which now merges seamlessly with a deeper woodier taste. The sweetness has dropped off this infusion, the mouthfeel has developed a dry edge, it reaches the edges of the upper throat. The aftertaste is more forest than floral with a thin melon taste in the distance. A monotone forest-wood base over arches the profile.
The fifth and sixth infusion sees the initial taste as lime-wood which transforms to a bland undertone then this taste also drops revealing just the slightest suggestions of thick florals lingering. The taste fades into the aftertaste with slight, barely creamy, vanilla edge which trails off in the aftertaste.
The seventh and eighth infusions deliver a bland-forest initial taste- some floral notes still support the base of fresh-forest. A foresty-faint-floral taste lingers on the breath mouthfeel becomes a bit sticky in the end.
Edit (April 24/2012): This tea is also available at Good Green Tea.