Traditional Korean tea

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Traditional Korean tea
Green tea 1.jpg
nokcha (green tea)
Hangul 전통차
Revised Romanization jeontongcha
McCune–Reischauer chŏnt'ongch'a
IPA [tɕʌn.tʰoŋ.tɕʰa]

Traditional Korean tea, called traditional tea (Korean: 전통차) in Korea,[1] is a drink made from infused leaves, flowers, fruits, grains, roots, and also some other ingredients such as edible mushrooms and seaweed or other parts of various plants. Although the tea made of leaves from the tea plant is not as popular as coffee in South Korea (annual consumption 0.16 kg (0.35 lb) per capita, compared to 3.9 kg (8.6 lb) coffee),[2] grain teas are served in many restaurants as water, and traditional teas made of various ingredients are commonly drunk both hot and cold.


Gakjeochong, a Goguryeo tomb, shows a knight drinking tea with two ladies (5-6th century)

According to Record of Gaya cited in Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, the legendary queen Heo Hwang-ok, who was a princess of the Ayodhya married to King Suro of Gaya, brought the tea plant (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) from India and planted it in Baegwolsan, a mountain in current Changwon. However, Labrador tea and fruit teas such as omija-cha and gugija-cha were more common until the Samhan Era.

The first import of Chinese tea started during the reign of Queen Seondeok of Silla (631‒647), when two types of tea bricks, jeoncha (전차; 磚茶) and dancha (단차; 團茶), were imported from the Tang Empire. In 765, a Buddhist monk presented an offering to King Gyeongdeok and to Buddha. In 828, the small-leaved Chinese-type tea plant (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis) spread throughout the country via Buddhist temples.

Tea culture prospered during the Goryeo Dynasty. Tea offering was a part of the biggest national ceremonies such as Yeondeunghoe and Palgwanhoe, and tea towns were formed around temples. During the reign of Myeongjong (1131‒1202), Seon-Buddhist manners of ceremony prevailed. Jeong Mongju and other scholars enjoyed tea poetry, dasi (다시; 茶詩), and tea meetings, dahoe (다회; 茶會). The state of daseonilchi (다선일치; 茶禪一致; "tea and seon in accord") was eulogized.

During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Korean tea culture underwent secularization along with the Korean culture itself. The royal family and the aristocracy used tea for simple rites. The word darye (다례; 茶禮}, "tea rite") is often translated as "etiquette for tea". Toward the end of the Joseon Dynasty, commoners joined the trend and used tea for ancestral rites. The word charye (차례; 茶禮}, "tea rite"), cognate to darye, now usually refers to jesa (ancestral rite). In the past, the two terms used to be synonyms as ancestral rites were often offerings of tea to the ancestors. Wedding ceremonies included tea offerings.

In 1985, King Gojong of Korean Empire enjoyed coffee for the first time. In 1896, grocery stores began to have tea rooms as an annex, and a modern tea house was first established in 1924.

In modern South Korea, the tea made of the tea leaves is not yet as popular as coffee. In 2016, the annual consumption per capita of green tea was 0.16 kg (0.35 lb), compared to 3.9 kg (8.6 lb) coffee.[2] Commercial production of green tea in South Korea began in 1970s.[3] Even in 2012, production of green tea in South Korea was 20% of Taiwan and 3.5% of Japan and tea consumption per capita is less than one tenth of other East Asian countries.[4][5] Recently however, as the coffee market changed from a blue ocean to a red ocean, South Korean tea production doubled during 2010-2014,[6] and the tea import doubled during 2009-2015[7] despite very high tariff rate (40% for black tea, and 513.6% for green tea, compared to 2% for raw coffee beans, and 8% for processed/roasted coffee).



Leaf teas[edit]

For more details on nokcha (green tea), see Green tea § Korea.
nokcha (green tea)
  • baegyeop-cha (백엽차; 柏葉茶; "pine leaf tea")
    A tea made from the dried needles of Korean pine that grows eastward.
  • bakha-cha (박하차; 薄荷茶; "peppermint tea")
    A tea made from peppermint.
  • gamnip-cha (감잎차; "persimmon leaf tea")
    A tea made from the dried leaves of Oriental persimmon.
  • hwangcha (황차; 黃茶; "yellow tea")
    A tea made of partially oxidized leaves of tea plant. The tea, like oolong from China, is a cross between unoxidized green tea and fully oxidized black tea. The oxidation process for hwangcha is very specific to itself, which enables it to develop the unique flavour.
  • iseul-cha (이슬차; "dew tea") or gamno-cha (감로차; 甘露茶; "sweet dew tea")
    A tea made from the dried leaves of mountain hydrangea. The leaves are harvested from mid August to October and sun-dried.
  • maegoe-cha (매괴차; 玫瑰茶; "rugose rose leaf tea")
    A tea made from the dried leaves of rugose rose.
  • nokcha (녹차; 綠茶; "green tea")
    Green tea, the most common form of Korean leaf tea, is a tea made of the dried leaves of the tea plant. Nokcha can be classified into various types based on several different factors. The most common is flush, or the time of year when tea leaves are plucked: cheotmulcha (첫물차; "first flush"), ujeon (우전; 雨前; "pre-rain"), gogu (곡우; 穀雨; "grain rain"), sejak (세작; 細雀; "thin sparrow") or jakseol (작설; 雀舌; "sparrow tongue"), jungjak (중작; 中雀; "medium sparrow"), and daejak (대작; 大雀; "big sparrow") are the varieties.
    Leaf tea is called yeopcha (엽차; 葉茶) or ipcha (잎차), while powdered tea is called malcha (말차; 末茶) or garu-cha (가루차). Leaf teas can be deokkeum-cha (덖음차; "roasted tea") or jeungje-cha (증제차; 蒸製茶; "steamed tea").
    Southern, warmer regions such as Boseong, Hadong, and Jeju are famous for producing high quality tea leaves. Famous green teas include: Banya-cha (반야차; 般若茶; "prajñā tea"), Illohyang (일로향; 一爐香; "bamboo dew tea"), and Jungno-cha (죽로차; 竹露茶; "bamboo dew tea"). Nokcha can be blended with other ingredients, such as roasted brown rice to make hyeonmi-nokcha (현미녹차; 玄米綠茶; "brown rice green tea") or lemon to make remon-nokcha (레몬 녹차; "lemon green tea").
  • ppongnip-cha (뽕잎차; "mulberry leaf tea")
    A tea made from the dried leaves of white mulberry.
  • sollip-cha (솔잎차; "pine leaf tea")
    A tea made from the dried needles of Korean red pine.
  • ssukcha (쑥차; "mugwort tea")
    A tea made from dried Korean mugwort.

Flower teas[edit]

Fruit teas[edit]

  • daechu-cha (대추차; "jujube tea")
    A tea made from jujube. Blanched, deseeded, and thinly sliced jujubes are preserved in honey.
  • gugija-cha (구기자차; 枸杞子茶; "goji tea")
    A tea made from dried goji berries.
  • gyulpi-cha (귤피차; 橘皮茶; "citrus peel tea")
    A tea made from the dried rinds of various fruits of the genus Citrus, such as mandarin orange and byeonggyul.
  • maesil-cha (매실차; 梅實茶; "plum tea")
    A tea made from maesilcheong (plum syrup), which is made by sugaring ripe plums in honey.
  • mogwa-cha (모과차; "quince tea")
    A tea made from mogwacheong (quince preserve), which is made by preserving julienned Chinese quince in honey.
  • ogwa-cha (오과차; 五果茶; "five fruit tea")
    A tea made from five fruits, namely walnut, ginkgo, jujube, chestnut, and dried persimmon.
  • omija-cha (오미자차; 五味子茶; "magnolia berry tea")
    A tea made from dried magnolia berries. Omija means "five flavours", which are sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness, and pungency.
  • sansuyu-cha (산수유차; 山茱萸茶; "cornelian cherry tea")
    A tea made from cornelian cherry.
  • taengja-cha (탱자차; "hardy orange tea")
    A tea made from taengjacheong (hardy orange preserve), which is made by preserving sliced hardy oranges in honey.
  • yuja-cha (유자차; 柚子茶; "yuja tea")
    A tea made from yujacheong (yuja marmalade), which is made by preserving peeled, depulped, and thinly sliced yuja in honey.

Grain, been, and seed teas[edit]

Root, shoot, and bark teas[edit]

  • danggwi-cha (당귀차; 當歸茶; "angelica root tea")
    A tea made from boiling the dried roots of Korean angelica. The dried root is gently boiled in water for a few hours. Sometimes, ginger root can be added for preference when boiled. Korean angelica is often called ginseng for woman. Some believe that it is good for (white) leucorrhoea and postpartum care. If consumed for a long time, it can remedy cold fingers or toes. However, neither belief has been shown in independent scientific evaluations.
  • dungulle-cha (둥굴레차; "Solomon's seal tea")
    A tea made from dried roots of Solomon's seal.
  • chikcha (칡차; "arrow root tea") or galgeun-cha (갈근차; 葛根茶)
    A tea made from East Asian arrow root, which is a kind of kudzu.
  • gyepi-cha (계피차; 桂皮茶; "cinnamon tea")
    A tea made from Chinese cinnamon bark.
  • hongsam-cha (홍삼차; 紅蔘茶; "red ginseng tea")
    A tea made from hongsam, the red ginseng.
  • insam-cha (인삼차; 人蔘茶; "ginseng tea") or misam-cha (미삼차; 尾蔘茶)
    A tea made from ginseng, which can be a fresh ginseng (수삼; 水蔘; susam), a dried ginseng (건삼; 乾茶; geonsam). The sliced or whole ginseng is boiled for a few hours, and then refined sugar (or unrefined sugar such as honey) may be added. A common ratio is 500 mℓ of water to 50 g of ginseng. Sometimes, jujube can be added when boiled. Some believe that insamcha is good for increasing energy, especially for someone who catches colds frequently in winter. It also has a remedial effect on stomachaches due to low body temperature. However, neither belief has been shown in independent scientific evaluations.
  • macha (마차; 麻茶; "yam tea")
    A tea made from Chinese yam.
  • saenggang-cha (생강차; 生薑茶; "ginger tea")
    A tea made from ginger. The ginger root is washed and sliced without peeling. The sliced ginger root is stored with honey for a few weeks. To make tea the mixed honey and ginger root is added to hot water. Some believe that Saenggangcha is useful to prevent colds and to aid digestion. It also has a remedial effect on diarrhea and stomachache due to low body temperature. It helps someone who has a low body temperature due to bad circulation. However, neither belief has been shown in independent scientific evaluations.
  • ueong-cha (우엉차; "burdock tea")
    A tea made from burdock roots.

Combination and other teas[edit]

ssanghwacha (herb tonic tea)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "전통차". Standard Korean Dictionary. National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  2. ^ a b 허, 건량 (23 July 2016). "커피보단 쉼이 있는 '차문화' 부흥을" [Over the coffee, to revive 'tea culture' with relaxation]. Segye Ilbo (in Korean). Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Lee, Geumdong (2014). "The Leaders' Contribution of the Formative Period of Korea's 3 Main Tea Producing Areas" (PDF). Bulletin Faculty Agriculture, Saga University. pp. 1–20. 
  4. ^ "FAOSTAT > Food Balance > Food Supply > Crops Primary Equivalent". FAO. 
  5. ^ "Crops, Production, FAOSTAT". FAO. 
  6. ^ 안, 지예 (2016-10-12). ""이제는 커피 대신 '차(茶)'다"…음료업계, 시장 선회 - 시사ON". 시사오늘. Retrieved 2017-02-19. 
  7. ^ 이, 새봄 (2016-10-13). "커피, 茶와의 동거…스타벅스 차 브랜드 `티바나` 10일만에 100만잔". Maeil Business Newspaper (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-02-19.