Gimhae Jang-gun tea was introduced into Korea in the year 48 AD from the Ayutthaya Dynasty from Thailand. The region of Gimhae-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, in southeastern South Korea has an excellent climate and soil conditions to produce tea. In particular, the Jang-gun tea that grows here is a macrophyllae variety, with big and wide tealeaves compared with other teas. Jang-gun tea is famous for its clean taste and flavor, and it has also been awarded multiple times by the World Tea Forum.
Gimhae Jang-gun tea has long and valuable history, and was popular during the Kaya Dynasty in the 1st and 2nd centuries. The name of the tea derives from the late 1200s, when King Chungryal was travelling through Gimhae. He encouraged his soldiers to drink the mountain water, and the taste was so good, he gave the name Jang-gun to the water, which became the name of the tea.
For a period, Jang-gun tea was lost, and was known only through written documents that described it over the centuries. In 1987, three wild Jang-gun tea colonies were discovered growing on 2 hectares. The tea has been revived since the late 1990s, when farmers began to cultivate it. By the mid-2010s, there were about 40 farmers and a Gimhae Jang-gun tea producers’ cooperative growing the tea over 62 hectares for commercial sale. The Gimhae Agricultural Research Center is trying to promote this tea through tours and tastings, working alongside producers. However, many of the farmers growing this variety are elderly, and there are fewer young people continuing this tradition. If not actively cultivated, Jang-gun tea may be lost again.