Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Korean Gamnong Matcha from Hankook Tea

Class: Green
Origin: South Korea
Year: 2008 (assumed)
Vendor: Hankook Tea Company (Product page)
Price: $19.99 (30g)

Gamnong Matcha
I was very excited to see Hankook Tea Company offer Korean matcha on their site. I love Japanese matcha, so naturally I wanted to see what its Korean sibling was like. The price seemed good— it is pretty much right in the middle when compared to Japanese ceremonial grade matcha— especially considering the high prices usually commanded by Korean teas due to rarity and the domestic market.

Gamnong Matcha
Sadly, this example didn't live up to my expectations. The problem is not that Korean teas are inherently bad; they certainly aren't, as evidenced by the lovely sample of Ddok Cha I received from Matt. I imagine the problem is that very little of the good stuff makes it outside Korea, even more so than in China and Japan, probably in no small part due to the small size of the Korean tea industry. This is all unfounded speculation though, so take it with a grain of salt.

Remnants
Anyway, about the tea. The flavor is fairly typical for matcha, though a bit on the tart side and more astringent than I usually like. However, it does seem to have some strong "cha qi"; I broke into a sweat soon after drinking it. Compared to the other matcha I have on hand, the Wakamatsu-no-Mukashi from Ippodo, the Gamnong matcha didn't do well. To be fair though, these are definitely in different weight classes; the Japanese matcha is quite a bit more expensive, and that's without considering what a product of similar quality would cost in Korea. Here you can see the two matcha side-by-side.

Dry Matcha
The Wakamatsu-no-Mukashi (right) is slightly greener (also older, for what it's worth), and has a more fluffy/ less grainy texture than the Gamnong (left). Both samples here were sifted through a basket strainer.

This isn't a bad matcha. It's just not that great, and not different enough from better-valued Japanese matcha (Wow, did I really just say Japanese matcha is a good value?) to justify buying a whole tin. Let me know if you would like to try some for free though; I'd be happy to send some samples.

7 comments:

Space Samurai said...

Wow, great post and wonderful pictures.

Thanks for diving in first and saving me a little money on Korean matcha.

SamiHolloway said...

I'd love to taste the matcha! You'd really send some?

~:D

Matt said...

Brent,

Ones experience with Korean matcha is not so good either. Really it is quite rare to stumble upon Korean matcha in teashops here. Korean tea masters firmly believe that Japan simply makes better matcha. So far ones experience can confirm this.

One Korean matcha consumed last year wasn't bad but apparently the powder was from Japan but produced by a Korean company. Go Figure.

As always thanks for your thoughts on this tea.

Peace

Brittiny said...

Great post!

I love the yin yang pattern with the two matchas (I am envious of your megapixels).

The only matcha I've had so far is Teavana's matcha... so my matcha experience cannot not even begin to compare. But, now I know not to stray too far from the Japanese versions. :)

Brent said...

Space,

No problem. :)

Sami,

I would be glad to send you some. Just email me your address and I'll get it in the mail.

Matt,

Thanks for the information, though I am sad to hear that Korean matcha isn't that good. Oh well!

Brittiny,

Thank you for the compliment! I wasn't even trying to make a yin-yang pattern, it just kinda happened. Seriously though, lose that Teavana matcha-- yikes!

Thanks for all the comments,

Brent

Will said...

Have you tried stuff from Hangawi? I don't think they sell Matcha, but I can recommend their wild Korean green tea, which is also not easy to find in the states. Prices are high, but not completely insane (keep in mind that the actual quantity of tea is not the same as the shipping weight, so it's like 3 or 3.5 oz of tea, not 8). The first picked stuff is *very* mild, as well as very expensive... I think the second picked stuff is a better value.

I've been meaning to visit the Korean tea shop here in LA... I'll see what I can find out (you might also PM chrl42 on teachat or teadrunk - he's Korean and can maybe hook you up with some interesting stuff if you're interested).

Brent said...

Will,

No, I haven't tried anything from that company yet, but I will if I come across it. Thanks for the tips!

Brent

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