Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tea Tour Korea 2014: Join Us

It took 15 pickers 4 hours to pick this bamboo dew tea. Ha Gu Artisan Tea Producer

Tea Tour Korea May 9-25, 2014  Price at No-Profit
Tea Tour 2011 seemed to open the floodgates of Tea to us in Korea.  We returned to Korea August 2011 on a ceramics/tea tour and were introduced to and met new Tea people.  With two different tours in 2012 and our Tea Tour 2013. We now have contacts with many additional teaware artists, artisan tea producers and important tea masters.  They include a tea master who mentor-wise is the direct descendant of Cho-Ui.  Another Tea master has a remarkable collection of more than 20,000 ancient tea ware items and understands Chinese tea like no other person in Korea.   He was our teacher when we made tea with him on the 2013 tea tour - a remarkable experience.  Artisan tea producers are beginning to contact us.  It is wonderful how much Tea Tour Korea 2011 and 2013 have stirred Korean Tea for us. (pun intended, bad as it is).
Brother Anthony has agreed to join us again and David Mason, another authority on Korea and Korea’s tea culture may also speak to our group.   Our private group talk with the tea producer Ha Ilnam about various aspects of Korean tea was exciting, informative and insightful.  He has promised to do that again.

Kim Jong Gyun and Ha Il Nam of Dong Cheon Tea with Hong Kyeong-Hee and Brother Anthony of Taize co-authors of The Korean Way of Tea and Korean Tea Classics
Although we had wonderful tea experiences in 2011 and 2013 we have decided to expand the Tea section of the tour for 2014.  We now have so many more Tea options it is difficult to decide who we should visit.  Nor will be neglect tea ware which still lies at he heart of what we do.  That area is also expanded.
If you are a novice or a connoisseur of tea or even if you have little or no knowledge of tea, Tea Tour Korea 2014 will be an exciting introduction to both Korean Tea and Korean tea ware and a great introduction to the beautiful country of Korea for anyone even if they have never tasted Korean tea. 
We will stay longer in Hwagae Valley and meet more artisan tea producers.  But in 2014 we will also look at tea in Gimhae, Janghung, Gangjin and Haenam in addition to Jerisan (Hadong) and Boseong.

Oh Sung Teak A great teapot master from Mungyeong.
We understand, you want to know, "What are the specific dates?" and "What is the price?"  In 2014 we will travel a little later than 2013 or 2011.  Our tour begins May 9-25 with the arrival date May 8.  We begin our tour by meeting with Brother Anthony, co-author of The Korean Way of Tea the morning of May 9th.  That is followed by personal introductions to some of the finest and most interesting teaware artists and tea producers in Korea. We will go to out of the way places and behind the scenes to meet some of the best Korea has to offer.  The price will be reasonable for a very small group tour.  As an example 33% of the 2011 group and 77% of the 2013 group decided to pay the extra single room charge.  This tour is at cost and non-profit.  Morning Crane Tea will help with the tour's price making it as inexpensive as we can.  But be aware that small group tours are not cheap.  As examples the basic land price for double occupancy for Tea Tour 2011 was $3200.  Tea Tour 2013's basic land price for 8 participants was $3450 for 15 days.   This tour is slightly more if we have 8 participants as it is 17days.  Single occupancy is $500.  We are trying to get 8 - 10 participants for this tour.  The price should be compared with a 17 day tour that costs $400 - $450 per day and has 16-20 guests.  Our group will be half that size. Plus air from your location.
A highly respected Korean travel professor called this "... ptobably the most culturally rich tour planned for Korea."  He went on to say that anyone, even if they didn't know tea or ceramics, would enjoy this tour. 
This tour will truly be a historic journey into the heart of Korean Tea and Korean Tea Ware.  It could also be the last tea tour that we personally host.     
Additional information:
1.  The tour will be a small with only 6-10 tour members.  We want to be able to sit as a group with each tea ware artist, tea artisan, tea master or venerable tea monk so that we can truly savoir those  experiences. 
2. We had the tour set but lost two members due to a family matter. We are trying to replace them. Are you up for a great tea and teaware adventure?   I'm sorry for the short notice if you are viewing this for the first time.  We must know by the end of Feb. 2014.
3.  Spring is one of the most beautiful times to be in Korea and it truly is Tea time.
4.  Note: We will not guide a Tea Tour Korea in 2015.  That year we turn our attention to Korean ceramics.  If you are more interested in ceramics, contact us regarding the possibility of that tour.
5.  Join this blog to see if we post more as Tea Tour Korea 2014 develops or simply more on Korean tea.  Please do it now. Incidentally have you ordered your Korean tea from us yet? 
6. Visit Morning Crane Tea blog to learn more about both Korean tea and Korean tea ware.  Have you seen our new Facebook page (see below)?
7. To learn more about Korean tea, visit our tea website:
8. Contact me now to learn more and reserve your spot on the historic Korean tea and Korean tea ware tour – Tea Tour Korea 2014.
Arthur K. J. Park
Morning Crane Tea

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tea Tour Korea 2013 Update

It is hard to describe in words how excited we are about Tea Tour Korea 2013.  If you are on this tour, you will not only be visiting with some of the most important artisan tea producers in three of Korea's most important tea producing regions but also will be visiting with some of the most interesting and important teaware artists and tea masters in Korea.  You will witness the prestigious Mungyeong Teabowl Festival and the exciting and spiritual Lotus Lantern Festival.  You will be in Korea during the 'pick' so you will have the first choice of the freshest teas.  You will experience the beautiful Korean tea ceremony presented by one of Korea's most renown tea masters, discuss Korea's tea history with Brother Anthony co-author of both The Korean Way of Tea and Korean Tea Classics - the two most important books on Korean tea. (Bring your copies and have them signed).  Among the teaware artists we will visit are 3 Human Intangible Cultural Treasures.  The tea artisans include artisans who often makes tea with Hong Kyeong Hee the other co-author of The Korean Way of Tea and Korean Tea Classics.  (Steven Owyoung is the third co-author of Korean Tea Classics.)  One of the tea masters we hope to meet is Park Dong Chun the only 'direct descendent' to Cho Ui's way of making nokcha.  It is an unusual processing method we are hoping to witness. In other words you will be meeting artists, artisans and tea historians who are among the most respected in their fields in Korea.  This is truly a unique Korean tea tour.             
Following is the 2013 Tentative Itinerary:
April 28:  The group will meet at our hotel.  The hotel information and time will be sent to tour participants.
After meeting together, Brother Anthony will discuss with the group the history of Korean tea and begin to lay the foundation for our journey.  Brother Anthony is co-author of both The Korean Way of Tea and Korean Tea Classics, the two most important books in English on Korean tea.
Following brother Anthony's discussion, we will visit the  Panyaro Institute for the Korean Way of Tea and meet with the Director the renowned tea master Chae Won-hwa.  Chae Won-hwa is arguably the most respected tea master in Korea.  Will we experience ‘Chaseon’ - Seon (Zen) Tea? 
This experience is like being a living part of the history of Korean tea itself.  We are honored and humbled that both Brother Anthony and the great tea master Chae Won-hwa have agreed to meet with us.  
April 29:   
The group will visit selected teashops and galleries in Insadong to become acquainted with Korean tea and teaware before we board the bus to travel to the Yeoju/Icheon areas to visit some wonderful teaware masters.  You are not in tea country yet, so we begin our adventure with teaware.
April 30: Starting the day early, we will visit with several wonderful teaware masters and the world ceramic galleries in Icheon and Yeoju. 
May 01: We will visit the Mungyeong Teabowl Festival. This may be the most interesting Teabowl Festival in the world.  Two days is hardly enough to experience these teaware artists, visit with artisan tea producers and absorb all that this festival has to offer.
May 02: We continue your visit to the Mungyeong Teabowl Festival and experience some planned private meetings with select teaware masters.  In the late afternoon you will travel to Daegu where we will experience a wonderful tea ceremony conducted by 선생 Oh Young Hwan one of Korea's premier tea masters.
May 03: The early morning will find us at the Seokguram Grotto.  Many travelers call this their 'favorite place in Korea' for the spiritual power emanating from this amazing grotto.  Then we visit Bulguksa, also a UNESCO World Heritage temple and companion temple to Seokguram.  
Nearby is the home and studio of ICA (Intangible Cultural Asset) Park Byung Teak known for his Silla Dynasty style work.  His tea ware is very exciting.  The Day ends with a visit to the national Museum of Gyeongju.  It was during the Silla Dynasty that tea was introduced to Korea.
We are in 'Buddha Land' and Buddhism lies at the heart of Tea.  It has been said that 'Tea and Zen are one' (Post). 
May 04: In the early morning you will visit Park Jong Il tea ware master (and artisan tea producer).  This is at Park Jong Il's studio high in the mountains above Gyeongju.  This is an important stop since he will be joining us for our trip to Jirisan the 'holy mountain' of Korean tea and will act as an extra guide during our tea experiences in Jirisan.
In the afternoon we travel to Sancheon our entrance to Jerisan the holy mountain for Korean teas.  There we will meet with Min Young Ki. Min Young Ki is one of Korea's most prestigious teabowl artists.  One of Japan's most prestigious teabowl connoisseurs said of Min's work, "I personally have never seen a tea bowl that exceeds the quality of Mr. Min's.."  Before we leave Sancheon we will meet Jeong Jae Yeun the artisan tea producer who makes our delicious Hwangcha.  
May 05:  Here is where the tea part of the tour gets interesting. By very special arrangement, in the early morning we move to the humble tea compound of Kim Sung Tae not far away.  There we will pick leaves and process them in both the Korean and Chinese ways for green tea and make hwangcha and ttok-cha as well.  Kim Sung Tae is a premiere tea master’s teacher and has many followers who study with him both in Seoul and also in Busan.  Several tea artists also study with him.  He is probably Korea’s leading authority on Chinese teas as well.  I know that he is planning a museum to house his collection of more than 25,000 tea ware pieces that date from ancient times to the present.  That is just part of his vast ceramic collection. We will be with Kim Sung Tae and his student, the tea ware artist and tea master, Park Jong Il, our tea guide, May 5 and part of May 6.  Park Jong Il will remain with us until May 7.
May 06: After finishing our self-made teas, we travel to Hwagae Valley the home of many artisan tea producers.  Having just processed tea leaves ourselves, I am sure we will appreciate the work they do even more.  We will be meeting with some of the best artisan producers in Hwagae Valley.  It is also the home of the Dong Cheon Tea company a very special tea cooperative that regularly produces some of the best teas produced in Korea.  Morning Crane Tea is proud to be their international representative.  Tea masters have told us we made the best choice.  We will visit this excellent company, but this day is mostly about artisan tea producers and a tea temple or two.
May 07: We continue to visit tea producers and the Hadong Tea Museum.  Later in the afternoon we move to the Bosong area on our way to Gangjin.  We hope to visit an artisan tea producer and perhaps the Bosong Tea Museum on our way to the Gangjin area.  
May 08: The Bosong / Gangjin areas have many tea artisans and teaware artists.  Gangjin is also the home of the most important celadon produced in Korea.  It was also the historic home of the great Korean tea master Cho Ui (Korea's Sen Rikyu) so our stay in the Gangjin area will be filled with the history of tea, exceptional tea artisans as well as some amazing teaware.  In addition to our visit to the historic Gangjin Celadon Complex, we hope to meet the teabowl master Myeong Jae Hyun, the celadon master Jung Ki Bong, the female celadon master Kim Yu-sung and visit the new ceramic center now associated with Morning Crane Tea.  Both Jung Ki Bong and Kim Yu-sung have won the prestegious Grand Prize at the Gangjin Celadon Festival in competition with all celadon artists throughout Korea.    There you may even try your hand at forming a teabowl on a traditional Korean kick wheel. 
May 09: You can't leave Korea without experiencing onggi and its production.  Lee Hak Soo, a cultural treasure, is also one of only a few onggi masters who make teaware.  In Bosong we will visit tea artisans and the most famous tea fields in Korea.  Should we hope to visit the O'Sulloc tea plant before we leave Gangjin?
May 10: We leave Gangin early in the morning.  Beginning with visiting a teaware master or artisan tea producer and travel on to Damyang, Korea's best known bamboo area, to explore their museum and to find bamboo tea implements.  Watch this post to learn more about who we will be visiting in the morning.  We have several very interesting options we want to  explore.  That evening we arrive in Seoul.
May 11: This day is dedicated to visiting some select tea and teaware shops as a group in the morning and free time for you to explore the Lotus Lantern Festival in the afternoon and their breathtaking parade in the evening.  It is a rare treat to be in Korea during this spectacular festival.  For the first time in many years it is on a Saturday.
May 12: Within walking distance of our hotel are beautiful and historic palaces, a great Korean Folk Museum and many galleries and shops of many kinds.  This is a day to explore these under our guidance, our suggestions or alone.  We may top the tour off with an evening of Korean Music and Dance.  
May 13: This day is simply a day to say farewell or continue your journey.  We have nothing formally scheduled.

We at Morning Crane Tea are looking forward to a great adventure with you into the heart of both Korean tea and Korean teaware.  When you are involved in one of our tours (designed by Morning Earth Korea), you will have experiences that truly touch the heart of Korean arts and culture.  This year is very unusual and fortunate because you will experience both the Mungyeong Teabowl Festival and the Lotus Lantern Festival.  Since the Lotus Lantern Festival dates are determined by the lunar calendar, it is rare that we can offer this exceptional festival combination. 
For those of you not joining us, please join us here on this site as we continue to discuss our tour before, during and after what promises to be a great tea adventure.
Please also contact us if you would like to try some the special Dong Cheon Teas we offer or the artisan teas we hope to bring back.  Is there an interest in pre-purchasing some artisan teas or registering to be on a possible Tea Tour Korea in 2014?  There is no obligation to register if you are among the first 8 it simply reserves your spot until you decide.  Let us know here.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Quick Note: Tea Tour Korea is Coming- May 2013

This is the first of a series of posts leading to Tea Tour Korea 2013.  It will also be one of the last tea tours we personally host so we want to make this tea tour as culturally rich as possible.  To that end, Tea Tour Korea 2013 will be a 'complete' tea tour with exceptional perhaps unparalleled tea and teaware experiences.  It will include:  1. Visits to selected Korean artisan tea producers,  2. Visits to selected Korean teaware artists,  3. The History of Korean Tea,  4. Meeting Important figures in the contemporary Korean Tea world,  5.  Participating in Korean Tea Ceremonies, 6. Witnessing tea being produced, 7.  Producing our own teas and  8. Investigating artists who make Tea related items      
Tea Tour Korea 2013 will be a non-profit tour hosted by us at Morning Crane Tea and Morning Earth Korea. 
Anyone can take you to Korea and introduce you to some people who make tea by hand and some ceramic artists who make teaware.  We have been told that no one else can give you the depth of a Korean tea experiences Tea Tour Korea will provide.  We will select from hundreds of possible choices the best tea producers, the best teaware artists, introduce you to some of the most significant figures in contemporary Korean Tea, take you into tea factories and have artisan tea producers teach you how to make various teas.  It is not just nokcha anymore.  You will meet personally with tea artisans who make jakseol, hwangcha, balhyocha, hongcha and ttokcha (possibly even matcha).  In addition, you can't leave Korea without experiencing some of their herbal teas.  
Will we have a temple stay?  Yes!  Will we visit Jejudo? Yes!  Will we go to historic sites? Yes!  Will we visit teashops in Seoul? Yes!  Will we visit onggi potters? Yes!  This list would in itself be a great tour to Korea but with the exception of Jejudo, they are add-ons to Tea Tour Korea 2013.        
We are waiting for the date of the Mungyeong Teabowl Festival to be announced to confirm our Tea Tour Korea 2013 dates.  That festival may be the most exciting teabowl festival in Asia.  Tea Tour Korea 2013 will be open to no more than 8 guests and we have some waiting on that list now -  including some who were with us in 2011.  Why would they return?  They have told us Tea Tour Korea 2011 was the most comprehensive tea tour they have ever experienced and while some of our visits will be the same, Tea Tour Korea 2013 will expand on the 2011 tour and will be even more comprehensive.  Have you read Madeleine's post? Are you interested in joining us or learning more?  Contact us. 
Are you looking for illustrations?  Please wait for the follow up posts.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Madeleine's Tea Tour Korea 2011 Post

   Madeleine, an international business woman who enjoys both tea and tea ware, was one of our guests on Tea Tour Korea 2011.  She sent us a wonderful email and has granted permission to share it with you as a post.  The illustrations and footnotes are ours.

Dear Arthur and Mary,
   I am finally home after some rushing about here in the region, and I am finally setting down to write you both a much-deserved note of thanks.
   I have "The Book of Korean Tea", "The Way of Korean Tea", "Korean Tea Classics", all proudly displayed on my table and lately my friends have been looking through them and simply saying "wow".
  That is the best way to describe the trip - an eye opening experience into a world so close to me physically, but where thanks to you both, the veil of mystery has been lifted and one enchantment after another revealed.
   From the moment we got on our magical mystery tour bus and walked through the Spring air and historic gates of the fort at the Mungyeong Tea Bowl festival, to the rushing waterfalls1

Mountain Stream near Hwaeomsa
and temple bells in the Jiri Mountains, the peace of Hwaeomsa temple and drumbeats echoing through the valleys2,

 3:30 AM Drumming Hwaeomsa
the tea fields in Hwagae Valley and rushing river by the mountain side, 3

Wild Tea in Hwaegae Valley
 the soft contours of the sea and mountains as we neared Gangjin, the elegant tea ceremony at the Myung Won Cultural Foundation, the detailed archeology museums that opened up centuries of Korean culture - the trip was a multi-layered exploration of archeology, culture, religion, geography, history all brought together through a tea leaf steeped into a beautiful bowl of magnificent simplicity and energy.4 

Simple Tea 
   Each day was filled with these experiences brought to life through individual contact and exchange with master ceramic experts who all offered us tea in stunning natural settings.5

The Mungyeong Artist Oh Sung Teak serves us tea
  I will not forget the enchanted gardens, mountain top vistas sitting on warmed floors, walks though camellia forests

 Red camellias bloom at the tea temple Baekryunsa near Gangjin
and tea served by Buddhist monks6 and gracious nuns.  

 Tea monk Duk Jae, at Gu Chung Am, Hwaeomsa  2&6
Most of all, the open, warm and generous hospitality of lunch and dinner where small dish after dish flourished bringing regional delights and tastes amid friendship and laughter with our kind and laughing hosts.7

 A Korean Lunch
   The generosity and lack of artifice of highly accomplished ceramic and tea masters is a memory that I will carry for a long time to come - in each and every encounter, we were welcomed to handle treasures, patiently provided with answers to endless numbers of questions about tea preparation, hosted to wonderful and spontaneous tea and then always, provided with a beautiful gift.  Whether this was green tea, blossom tea from a tea master or an individual teacup from a ceramic master's studio, each item is treasured and savored with delight.
   It is a testimony to your generosity and friendship with each master that we were received with such kindness.

  Brother Anthony - An Sonjae
  My special thanks also to Brother Anthony,8 who opened the gates of the temple to us and bid us farewell in Seoul over lotus blossom tea served in a large jet black bowl with floating pristine lotus flower.9

Lotus Blossom Tea at the tea shop Tea Friend
   And finally, my sincere thanks to my travel companions, delightful multicultural group of tea experts consisting of Classic scholars, philosopher/attorney, intrepid world explorer and organic gardener, tea host with quirky sense of humor, attorney turned potter and video expert 10

 Tea Tour Korea 2011 group with Min Young Ki
   Exquisite, gracious, warm, as well as filled with laughter.  These words and sound sum up the trip.
   With very best regards and looking forward to keeping in touch on a regular basis,

1.  These rushing waterfalls are at Hwaeomsa.  We will post on the Mungyeong Tea Bowl Festival later.
2.  Tea Tour Korea 2011 stayed at Hwaeomsa where we picked wild 'bamboo dew' tea under the guidance of the monk Duk Jae (5) who heads the Gu Chung Am at Hwaeomsa.  While there each morning we woke to witness the drum beating before early morning chanting at the temple.
3.  If you look closely you will see hundreds of wild tea bushes scattered across this steep hillside and going into the bamboo forest above. 
4.  I illustrated Simple tea with a bowl made by the international ceramic artist Min Young Ki.
5.  The tea ware artist Oh Sung Teak serves us tea at the Mungyeng Teabowl Festival.  The setting of the festival is one of the most beautiful settings in Korea.
6. The tea monk Duk Jae serves us wonderful hwangcha - yellow tea at his hermitage Gu Chung Am above Hwaeomsa.  We picked and processed 'bamboo dew tea' at Gu Chung Am.
7.  The dishes for this restaurant were designed by the international artist Jeon Seong-Keun best known for his incredible porcelain carving
8.  Here Brother Anthony sits by the mountain stream near Hwaeomsa.  I believe it is one of his favorite spots in the world,  It is certainly one of ours. The first photo is taken from the same area.
9. Tea Friend is a wonderful small tea shop near but not in Insadong.  The owner, Bo Hyun Sim, has many types of tea including a stunning variety of 'herbal' teas.
10.  The Tea Tour Korea 2011 group is seen here with the tea bowl artist Min Young Ki, his wife and son Min Bum Sik who is also a fine tea ware artist.  
11. We are accepting registration for Tea Tour Korea 2012.  There will be no Tea Tour 2013 but possibly another in 2014.  We are looking for 6-10 participants total and have 4 or 6 interested currently.  If you have an interest in joining us on Tea Tour Korea 2012 it is obviously not too early to register.  Contact us through this blog link.