This is a Korean green tea called Hwa Gae that I got from Puripan a few months ago. I chose it on a whim, when the salesgirl opened a canister to give me a whiff. The aroma was the same as it is now - a strong pure scent with a touch of bitterness. It somehow smelled like the essence of tea, as if all others I had tried before were less concentrated versions of the same thing.
And that may well be - the leaves are rolled more tightly than any other tea I’ve seen before, and even the stems seem especially thin. After steeping, these open up into some beautifully full leaves, with very few fragments. In terms of the actual tea, I think of these as similar to Gyukuro in some ways - difficult to get right, often a bit on the bitter side, but occasionally very smooth and satisfying. I haven’t figured out the right combination yet, but I think the key is to allow the water to cool a bit after boiling. It’s good for several infusions too, with little reduction in color after two rounds of 16oz steeps.
I once left a mug of this tea sitting until it was quite cold. I expected the result to be overly bitter and undrinkable, but to my surprise, it was even smoother and better than the warm version. It’s worth experimenting with.
Overall score: 95/100