Taste Korea’s Tea History

South Korean tea ceremony table

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games will begin Feb. 7, and it is the perfect time to celebrate Korean tea culture. Different regions of the country offer fascinating experiences for tea lovers.

Tea made its way to Korea from China in the seventh century during Queen Seondeok’s reign (632-646). Korea’s ambassador to China, which was under the Tang Dynasty’s rule, brought seeds back to Korea. After permission was granted by the imperial court, the seeds were planted in South Korea, according to PC2018.

Hadong County on the southern coast of South Korea became known for producing green tea. One of its distinguished features is the Green Tea Culture Center, which houses the Green Tea Exhibition Hall and the Green Tea Experience Hall. The Green Tea Exhibition Hall contains artifacts and other materials that teach about the history of green tea in the region. The Green Tea Experience Hall’s roasting program entails harvesting, picking, roasting and rubbing the tea leaves, says Visit Korea. Visitors can also be a part of the green tea ceremony and learn about Korean tea drinking etiquette.

Historically, Gangneung is known for being a major tea drinking town in South Korea. Gangneung is a 30-minute drive to the northeast of Pyeongchang on South Korea’s East Coast in the Gangwon-do Province. Gangneung has The HanSongJeong Pavilion where visitors can see tea utensils that were originally used by the Hwarang community, an elite infantry unit that originated in the early seventh century.

Gangneung also has the Heo Gyun/Heo Nanseolheon Memorial Park, which commemorates five 16th century writers from the Heo family. Heo Gyun wrote poetry about tea. The park also has the Chohee traditional tea experience center, where instructors from the Korea Tea Culture Association present tea ceremony sessions to visitors. During these sessions, an instructor will explain the purposes of the utensils and do a step-by-step breakdown of how to brew and serve tea, according to 12Fly.com.my.

Two hours west of Pyeongchang is South Korea’s capital, Seoul, which is home to the Insadong Market. This market houses traditional Korean clothing, crafts, cuisine, and a traditional Korean teahouse on the second floor reports ThePoochTimes.com. Its wood décor gives a homey feel while the aromas of tea and herbs fill the air.

Learn more about tea culture around the world by enrolling in this World Tea Academy course: ADV.03 The Culture of Tea Around the World