|▲ Gimhae Jangguncha Farming Association Corporation / President Kim Young-hee|
Jangguncha (cha means tea) is known to have come with Heo Hwang-ok from India who became the wife of the founder King Suro of Gaya Kingdom (43-532AD). She brought it as a wedding gift to the king in 48AD according to a record. A story goes King Chungnyeol of Goryeo Kingdom stopped his palanquin in front of a tea tree at Kumkang Temple in Gimhae and named the tree ‘janggun’ thus became janggun tea which is known to be the first Korean tea ever since.
Gimhae Jangguncha Farming Association Corporation president Kim Young-hee has been cultivating this 2,000 years old tea for many years. The tea, she says, is rich in tannin which gives clean taste and Gimhae offers a perfect condition for the tea to grow freshly; it is also rich in amino acid, vitamins and minerals.
Local historians found Gimhae jangguncha in 1987 and the cultivation started from 1999. To preserve the tradition, Gimhae Jangguncha Farming Association Corporation was established in 2002 and it has 24 member famers as of 2020. The Korea Tea Drinkers Association officially recognized jangguncha as the first Korean tea on May 16, 2007.
Jangguncha won the best prize at the 2008 International Tea Expo and a gold and silver prize at the same expo in 2010. From 2010, jangguncha was picked up as the Tea of the Year for three years in a row.
“Unlike green tea, however, jangguncha is less known to people and the tea growers have to have a second job to get by. So support and interest are needed from both the city and citizens like Hadong and Boseong Counties” says the corporation president Kim Young-hee.
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