What Balhyocha/Hwangcha are you drinking?

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

Sat Apr 02, 2022 6:42 pm

Pulling together some posts from other topics about these lovely Korean teas to seed this topic. I'll leave more background information on the style of tea for someone with more expertise. In my personal tea 'files' I keep them with the oolongs, because they're partially oxidized teas, and oolongs are such a wide-open category that the balhyochas certainly share flavor elements with many different oolongs.
debunix wrote:
Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:56 pm
But they are not the same. This is the wikipedia version:
Korean hwangcha

In Korean tea terminology wherein domestic tea is categorized mainly as either green tea (nokcha; 녹차) or fermented tea (balhyocha; 발효차) – "fermented" practically meaning "oxidized" with this term[4] – "yellow tea" (hwangcha) is used to denote lightly oxidized balhyocha without implications of processing methods or a result that would qualify the tea as "yellow tea" in the Chinese definition.[4] Unlike Chinese huángchá, Korean hwangcha is made similarly to oolong tea or lightly oxidized black tea, depending on who makes it – the key feature is a noticeable but otherwise relatively low level of oxidation which leaves the resulting tea liquor yellow in color.[citation needed]
I'd already been living in LA for 3 years before I went to Koreatown with intent to find some tea. I tried some green, herbal and Hwangcha teas from Hankook. I enjoyed them all but this topic is for the hwangchas/balhyochas! My first impression was that it was quite nice stuff but maybe not worth the cost:
debunix wrote: Put together a review of the Hankook Oolong tea today, after a few casual sessions without photos.

This is fairly pricey like most Korean teas, apparently due to rarity with most being consumed inside Korea.

The leaves are dark, small, twisted, with toasty and fruity odors. When added to the prewarmed gaiwan, the odor is stronger, mostly fruity and tart.


Used 2.5 grams of tea for a 75mL or 2.5 oz porcelain gaiwan, keeping to about 1g tea per ounce.

The first 30 second infusion with water several minutes off the boil (probably about 180 degrees) yields an amber infusion, tasted like dilute black tea--touch of fruit, bit of toasty, but very little of the floral and earthy notes I expect from my chinese oolongs.

2nd infusion at 170 degrees (thought it was a bit warmer, surprised when it was so cool in the cup), also about 30 seconds, again tastes strongly of....well...black tea. A little fruity, very tea-like, a little hint of caramel.


For the 4th infusion, I put water just off the boil for 20 seconds, and a little more sweetness comes out. It reminds me a bit of the Yunnan Oriental Beauty I got from Yunnan Sourcing: tastes strongly oxidized, like a black tea, but without any of the bitterness that makes most of them intolerable to me.

The leaves are broken, curled, dark after infusion, and again, has a strong tea scent. ('Tea scent' here is code for smells like lipton, but that seems like a bad word to use describing a pleasant mild tea.)


It is easy and pleasant, but not as special as the price.
I got another lovely balhyocha when also purchasing teaware from darjeeling.cz, and by the time Koreatown shop where I bought Hangkook tea, Chasaengwon, closed, I was hooked and determined to seek them out. I ordered directly from Hankook.com a few times before I discovered Morning Crane Tea, and took part in Arthur Park's Tea Buy Korea.

I'm sure somebody in Korea must make some 'meh' balhyocha or hwangcha, but I've yet to meet one. They just seem to range from very nice to wow. Earthy, fruity, sweet, floral, never bitter, and tolerant of abuse like bulk thermos brewing while shining in mindful gongfu cha sessions, they float my boat. I find them remarkably versatile
debunix wrote:
Thu Jul 15, 2021 10:36 am
Baisao wrote:
Wed Jul 14, 2021 1:36 am
debunix & tjkdubya how do the two of you normally prepare this tea?

I feel like I hit it but if there are some Korean parameters used for these teas then I would like to know what they are.
I can only describe random Los Angeles parameters for prepping this tea: water just off the boil, and....everything else is flexible. I rarely pack the pot/gaiwan, because I rarely do that with any tea, and it is so good that a little goes a long way. How much I use has more to do with how much tea I want and how long the session will be--more leaf to infuse more times for longer/more tea, less leaf for shorter/less tea. And I infuse to taste, adjusting the time for the next infusion by the taste of this one.

I love it from my Petr Novak tree bark pot, or started hot and infused cold and made sparkling; a thermos full of hot balhyocha is reassuring at the start of a long day away from my tea table. It's enjoyment is not diminished by any of these different preparations--and that is a key part of why I love these teas so. Whatever the temperature, whim, available teaware, time for session, or distractions guaranteed to disrupt a sequence of flash infusions.....these are teas guaranteed to satisfy. And I love the mix of earthy, fruity, spicy, no one thing absolutely dominant, and the variability infusion after infusion, or hour by hour in the thermos brewing.

Not many other teas are so versatile. For me, Puerh and most traditional roast oolong needs at least a 'neutral' temperature before I want to drink it--in air conditioned work space during the summer, yes, or spring/fall/winter at home. Some of these--shou puerh, many oolongs--can do well in the thermos but not chilled. Greens usually do well chilled and hot but not in the thermos.

debunix wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 1:31 pm
After morning matcha, morning Balhyocha: Dosim Dawan Dae-ip-Cha Balhyocha in my Cory Lum "Beach" shino shell yunomi, infused in an unglazed Petr Novak woodfired 'bizen-style' pot


and they're a marvelous treat chilled and sparkling
debunix wrote:
Sat Jul 10, 2021 11:45 am
Heat wave = time for sparkling tea, tea started hot here in gaiwans, then added to bottles of water, chilled, and carbonated before drinking. Like thermos brewing, this limits the teas used because it works best with vegetal, floral and fruity flavors. Earthy dark roast oolongs and Puer just don’t work very well.

Today, it’s going to be hot, so starting up a bunch with a single heating of the tea kettle:


Left to right,
Red Alishan from Norbu
Jean Jae Yeun’s Haimonicha Balhyocha from Morning Crane
Bai Mu Dan from Yunnan Sourcing
Ti Guan Yin from Bird Pick
Five Penny green tea from Hatvala
(oddly, I have never photographed the bubbling results, will have to remedy that). And they do the magic thing where the fruity notes sing out when dripped over a Petr Novak treebark pot....
debunix wrote:
Sat Apr 02, 2022 5:01 pm

From a few days back:
a fine session with earthy and delicately fruity Balhyocha from Kim Jong Yeol (KJY), Butdangol Dawan (Forever Existing Temple Tea) via Tea Buy Korea, Noeulhangki = The Scent of Sunset.



Enjoyed from Petr's tree bark pot, and a dreamily dripsicled yunomi by Cory Lum.

Deliberate* leaks from the lid toward the spout are so pleasantly fruity to sniff. It’s a weirdly wonderful feature, not bug, of Petr’s tree bark pots.


* I manipulate my pour to make it a little dribble from time to time just to sniff
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