▲ O’Sulloc Tea Museum and Plantation in Moseulpo can add this well-earned beautiful glass 2009 World Tea Champion trophy to their collection of teas and teapots. Photo courtesy O’Sulloc Tea Museum
There are always doubters who swear that supermarket brands make a better ‘cuppa’ than the specialized tea makers, but at least on Jeju their argument has been put to rest. Local favorite O’Sulloc Tea romped home at the Olympics of tea making last month, at the 2009 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas.
The event is an independent commission of ‘cuppers’ (as tea testers are known) who test the cream of the global commercial tea market. O’Sulloc won with their premium Ilrohyang variety in the hand-made green tea category. The tea plantation is located in Andeok-myeon in Jeju Island and owned by chaebol Amorepacific,
While perhaps not as raucous as a German beer fest, nor as glutinous as an English pie fair, there was certainly no shortage of interest in being crowned King of the Croppers. O’Sulloc scientist, Lee Min Seuk, was in no doubt as to why the Jeju tea proved superior.
“Ilrohyang is a very unique hand-made tea, as it is made with the first flush of early spring. Hand-selected all the way through processing, it is a high-quality green tea that offers a distinctive flavor and savory taste,” he said.
Jeju islanders are not shy when it comes to boasting of their mystical land and now they have one more thing to be proud of over their morning brew. Thanks to Jeju’s unique volcanic history, Mother Nature created the perfect conditions for tea cultivation in southwest Jeju. Perhaps she was a tea lover herself. Lee explains:
“The Jeju land provides optimum conditions for growing quality green tea, due to the harmonious balance between water, wind, temperature and soil, etc. Tea flavor is released through these elements and it is heaven's blessing that Jeju and O’Sulloc became world-renowned tea producers,” he said.
Winners in the event’s second year included tea from as far afield as India, Sri Lanka, Japan and the USA. With such international competition, it may prove tough for O’Sulloc to hold on to the crown next year, but with their tea tree roots firmly in rich Jeju soil, would you bet against them? Not for all the tea in China.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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