Posted by ChubbO Chubbington
I’m not usually a fan of hot tea. Even a year of consumption in England, in the home of the Devon Cream Tea could not fully convert me. (Although, I will eat anything if you put cream on it. Probably.) Because of my undying devotion to the Southern Iced Sweet Tea my momma makes, I had never been able to truly enjoy a hot tea. Until I found Magic Tea.
Magic Tea is also known as iseul cha 이슬 차 or suguk cha 수국 차. In English, it has been called dew tea, mountain dew tea, morning dew tea, and hydrangea tea. See? So many names, what’s one more? I call it Magic Tea. Because when you drink this tea, magic happens in your mouth.
At first sip, when the tea hits your tongue, you might think something along the lines of, “Hey, did I order hot water?” But then. Oh then, you swallow. And that’s when the magic happens. Yeah, this tea is so magical it doesn’t even have to be in your mouth for you to taste it. This sweetness crawls up from the back of your mouth and then runs over your tongue. And it’s not a hint of sweet, either. It’s serious sweet.
Looking at the scrawny, grey-green leaf of the hydrangea (it’s not made from the flower, as one would expect) doesn’t give the right impression. But, we are dealing with magic here, so we can’t stake everything on appearance. In my experience, once the tea is served, you should wait at least one minute before pouring. And then, it’s perfection in liquid form.
So, obviously, I check every teahouse I go to for Magic Tea. I found a beautiful Gallery Café called Miru Namu 미루나무, which means Poplar Tree, while traveling around Jeju-do at Christmas. We stopped in for coffee, and despite caffeinated goodness on my brain, I just happened to flip to their small tea menu. I was so excited to find this scrumptious tea because honestly, our vacation had been grey and gloomy until we set foot in Seogwipo 서귀포. We had ventured down south to check out the museum and town dedicated to the artist Lee JungSeop 이중섭. In the picture below, you can see his art on lampposts running up the street.
His paintings are reproduced on the sides of buildings, carved into the grates in the street, and set upon great tall posts that look down to the sea. It’s a great place and the few hours we spent in Seogwipo saved our vacation from totally sucking, especially the 5 or so cups of Magic Tea I downed in Miru Namu.
So, Magic Tea not only makes your mouth happy, it is now in the business of saving vacations. And also convincing good ol’ front-porch sittin’, iced tea sippin’ southern gals like me that a cup of hot tea can indeed hit the spot.
And you can stop whining about how you can’t afford a trip to Jeju just for tea (although it may be worth it because I would move my entire life to Seogwipo this instant if it was possible), because you can find hydrangea/dew/iseul tea in Seoul, too. I’ve had it in Insadong a number of times at a number of different cafés and even found a good canister of it at Hyundai Department Store last year. So, go out and get some of that magic in your mouth.