A delicious Boseong Hwangcha was my first intentional–and very delicious–encounter with Korean tea. It inspired me to make a resolution to learn more about Korean tea. At first, I wasn’t sure how to begin.
I conducted (delicious) “research”–sipping many cups of tea–and attended several webinars. I also participated in multiple tea workshops, attended (virtual) tea talks, and received some help from a tea-blogging friend. Now, I am happy to share some resources so that you can join me on this learning journey! I am honored to highlight two skilled Korean tea sommeliers who run companies that focus on, or include, tea. These talented professionals have made very helpful introductory videos. Both women have rich professional accomplishments and backgrounds–more than this post can do full justice to!
Soo Hyun Park from Soocha Tea
The first excellent tea educator I would like to highlight is Soo Hyun Park from Soocha Tea. Soocha Tea is the first Canadian tea company to specialize in Korean tea. Born in South Korea, Ms. Park immigrated to Canada and studied tea at George Brown College. She is a certified TAC tea sommelier. Her business is located in Toronto.
Soocha Tea sells tea and teaware. Ms. Park is also introducing and selling Korean accessories that are hand-made by Korean artists in Toronto with Korean Gyubang sewing techniques. All proceeds go towards the artists, to support them and help spread Korean Gyubang culture. Soocha Tea also shares delicious recipes on her website, and offers wonderful tea classes and workshops.
Lately, Ms. Park has also been offering monthly Tea Talks. She leads interesting and charming conversations with a different tea expert each month. Ms. Park generously uses this monthly platform to raise voluntary donations to support different charitable causes. She is active on Instagram at @soochatea.canada. (I’ve previously written about Soocha Tea’s online tea classes in my post Virtual Tea Talks and Workshops.)
I have ordered a number of teas (and tisanes) from Soocha Tea and taken Ms. Park’s tea webinars. The teas were top grade–award-winning Woojeon and Sejak, and delightful Balhyocha. I also discovered two new tisanes that I love from her webinars–barley sprout and mistletoe. Soo Hyun Park’s tea webinars, tea talks, and videos are excellent! She is clear and very knowledgeable. Her deep love for Korean tea and tea culture infuses everything she does. You can definitely learn more about Korean tea and tea culture from her!
Yoon Hee Kim from TeaClassics
Yoon Hee Kim is the next tea educator I am delighted to highlight. She is the owner of TeaClassics. Ms. Kim was born in Korea and moved to the United States while in elementary school. Her business is based in Los Angeles, California. She is a classically trained tea expert, chef, and tea artist. Ms. Kim’s many accomplishments and positions include (among others):
- a certified Tea Master with the Tea Culture Association of Korea
- founding director of the Korean Tea Culture Foundation
- STI Board Member and Co-Chair of its professional Certification and Education Committee (STI = Special Tea Institute of the U.S. Tea Association)
- graduate of both New York’s Institute of Culinary Education and the Institute of Traditional Korean Food
Ms. Kim is also credited with introducing Korean tea and culture to North American tea enthusiasts through her leadership in professional associations and many presentations and workshops. It’s worth pausing to note that before she transitioned to tea and culinary arts, Ms. Kim was a community leader in the Asian Pacific American community who worked personally and professionally to build solidarity and advance civil rights.
Through her company, TeaClassics, Ms. Kim arranges tea and culinary tours to Korea. Sara from Tea Happiness–the helpful tea-blogging friend to whom I referred earlier–was effusive about her experience traveling on a TeaClassics tour to Korea. (You can check out Sara’s blog post about that tea trip to Korea here.) Ms. Kim also offers individual, small group, and corporate tea and cooking classes. Curated food and tea events are also in her repertoire. Additionally, TeaClassics has a forthcoming shop featuring tea and teaware. You can follow Yoon Hee Kim on Instagram at @teaclassics.
I have taken two tea webinars that featured Yoon Hee Kim. They were very informative and visually rewarding! She shared her deep knowledge and lush photographs of Korean villages and tea fields. Her videos offer wonderful insight into Korean tea and tea culture.
Videos to Learn about Korean Tea and Tea Culture
From the Korean Cultural Centre Canada, videos featuring tea sommelier and owner of Soocha Tea, Soo Hyun Park, from 2020:
- 2020 Korea Week: Korean Tea Series, Different types of Korean tea
- 2020 Korea Week: Korean Tea Series, Darye (Korean Tea Ceremony)
- 2020 Korea Week: Korean Tea Series, Korean Tea Regions and Festivals
From the Los Angeles Chinese American Museum, video of webinars featuring tea sommelier, chef, and owner of TeaClassics, Yoon Hee Kim, from 2021:
- Tea Talk with Yoon Hee Kim – Stories of a Leaf: Journey into the World of Tea and Korean Tea Culture, Part 1
- Tea Talk with Yoon Hee Kim – Stories of a Leaf: Journey into the World of Tea and Korean Tea Culture, Part 2
Other Resources to Learn about Korean Tea Culture
- Blog post by from Sara Shacket of Tea Happiness: A Little Bit about Korean Teaware History
- Podcast episode from Talking Tea (by Ken Cohen): The Korean Way of Tea, with Brother Anthony of Taizé
- Blog post describing the flavor profiles of several Korean teas and tisanes, by Nicole Wilson from Tea for Me Please: Exploring South Korea with Soocha Tea
Cha Han Jan Haja
Cha han jan haja. Let’s have some tea! In Korean, I understand this expression can mean more than just drinking tea together. It’s a way to say, basically, let’s talk and spend some time together. Spend some time with these educational resources and I hope you will have made a good and delicious beginning to learning more about Korean tea and tea culture.
Are you already familiar with any Korean teas? If so, which one is resonating most with you recently? If not, is there one you are particularly interesting in trying?