Tea Guide

Online Stores You Can Buy Korean Tea in English

I put together six online shops where you can buy Korean Tea in English. I hope this list can help you feel less frustrated and exhausted in search of Korean tea.

where to buy korean teas

Let’s begin the scavenger hunt for…Easter eggs? No, For Korean teas!

Are you living outside of South Korea? Are you drinking Korean tea? Congratulation you are one of the 0.1% who is lucky enough to taste the tea.

If you are not a Korean speaker, I am even more proud of you because you’ve conquered the endless journey of finding Korean tea.

According to the World’s Top Export, South Korea tea import is ranked 64th, 0.3%, and export is ranked 50th, 0.1% of the global tea market.

The numbers are based on the sources from Alibaba, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), International Trade Centre, and Investopedia. It gets updated frequently, you can check the details below.

“So…Where Can I Buy Korean Tea?”

After I shared my first tea guide post about Korean tea. I received much positive feedback around the communities (thank you!), and also questions mostly about the struggle of purchasing Korean tea outside of Korea.

I am a native Korean speaker and have direct connections with people in South Korea. So, I haven’t used any site outside of Korea to purchase Korean teas.

However, I knew some tea companies that sell Korean tea in English, so I put them together in case you had no idea where to start from.

Korean tea tea repertoire

1. Tea Repertoire

Sujin, the co-founder of Repertoire grew up near Hadong, the oldest tea plantation region in South Korea.  

She currently teaches the Korean Tea Masterclass at the U.K. Tea Academy with Jane Pettigrew, the renowned tea author of 16 tea books. 

Tea Repertoire sells high-quality Korean tea with a full description including tea type, tea region, tasting notes, brewing guidance, background stories, everything in English!

You can purchase beautifully presented Korean tea with very affordable or no international shipping costs.

Korean tea tea repertoire
  • Based: in London, UK
  • International Shipping: Available. Tea Repertoire also offers free international economy delivery for orders above £35,  free priority delivery for orders above £70. 
  • Purchase Korean tea at Tea Repertoire: https://tearepertoire.com/collections/korean-tea
Buy Korean tea at Hankook tea

2. HanKook Tea

In South Korea, you can easily see tea brands such as Osulloc(오설록), Dongseo Food(동서식품), Nokchawon(녹차원), Ssanggye tea(쌍계명차), Teazen (티젠), and also Hankook Tea(한국제다).

Hankook Tea was founded in 1951 in Suncheon, South Korea. As green tea gained popularity in Korea, the company expanded the farm to encompass several acres in four locations – Youngam, Jangsung, Haenam, and Boseong. Each tea estate was carefully chosen for its ideal climate and geographic location for tea bushes.

The founder of Hankook Tea is registered as the Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods by the Republic of Korea (South Korea). I appreciate Hankook Tea because I think it is the only major tea company that operates and actually sells products in English.

Buy Korean tea at Hankook tea

On the Hankook tea’s website, you can browse different types of Korean tea with a detailed description including tea type, tea grade, tea region, harvest time, and tasting notes. You can also purchase samplers only.

  • Based: in South Korea, United States
  • International Shipping: Available. Although international shipping is available, I find Hankook tea’s international shipping is too much for people outside of the United States. For example, if you live in Australia and want to try one sampler that costs 8 USD, you will need to pay $54.10 for USPS International Priority Mail. However, if you live in the U.S. Hankook tea is a great place to order Korean tea.
  • Purchase Korean tea at Hankook Tea: https://www.hankooktea.com/
Buy Korean tea at Teas Unique

3. Teas Unique

Teas Unique directly sources organic, artisan, single estate green teas from the four major tea growing regions of Korea. The company imports Korean teas directly from the growers in Korea and package them in the USA.

Buy Korean tea at Teas Unique
Buy Korean tea at Teas Unique

On the Teas Unique website, you can browse a wide range of Korean tea with clear images and detailed descriptions including grade, harvest date, farm location, harvest method, and processing method. Depends on a product, you can also read a linked review by a tea reviewer outside of the company.

  • Based: in the United States
  • International Shipping: Available.
  • Purchase Korean tea at Teas Unique: https://teasunique.com/
Buy Korean tea at Wooree Tea

4. Wooree Tea

Wooree Tea sources Korean tea from only one farm in Hadong, the birthplace of Korean tea, over 1200 years ago. 

When I checked the website, I couldn’t see detailed product pictures (clear image of tea leaves, wet leaves, and brewed liquor) or descriptions( harvest date, tasting notes, brewing guidance, etc.).

However, I could identify the tea farm Wooree Tea described.

Then, I was like ok, forget the image, forget the description, their tea is good.

But honestly, I wish there were more high-quality images and detailed descriptions.

Buy Korean tea at Wooree Tea
  • Based: in Auckland, New Zealand
  • International Shipping: Available at affordable prices. I put my address in the United States and my shipping fee was $7.50.
  • Purchase Korean tea at Wooree Tea: https://teasunique.com/

5. Soocha Tea

After I published this article, people told me about Soocha Tea where you can find Korean teas directly sourced from the tea farms in South Korea for the US and Canada market.

“Soo(수, 秀)” in Korean means “excellent, outstanding, elegant, graceful, refined, etc.”, and “Cha(차, 茶)” means “tea”. Soocha also means “a written statement submitted to a king in person”, “several times, frequently”, and “waterwheel” in Korean using different Chinese characters. 

My name is also Soo. So, I personally felt more attached to Soocha Tea when I read the description. (I know, I am biased lol).

  • Based: in Toronto, Canada
  • International Shipping: US and Canada only.
  • Purchase Korean tea at Soocha Tea: https://www.soochatea.ca/

6. Amazon & eBay

And how I could skip the giant e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay?

You can find Korean teas on these sites but mostly casual Korean teas and teabags, not artisan loose leaf tea.

If you don’t live close to Asian mart or Korean mart, this is a great place to adventure casual Korean tea.

However, just be careful about price gouging. Some sellers put products not 10% or 20% higher, but 10x, 20x of market prices.

Buy Korean tea
where to buy korean teas

I am curious how you purchased artisan Korean tea outside of Korea unless you received a sample or gift from a generous friend.

Do you know any online tea store that sells Korean tea in English? Please leave a comment if there is any store you recommend.

Korean Green Tea & Grades (Ujeon, Sejak, Joongjak, Daejak, Yeopcha)

Do you want to learn about Korean green tea? Start from here! This is the basic guideline for the Korean green tea and tea grading system based on the current regulation by the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service (NAQS) in South Korea.

Korean Green Tea & Grades (Ujeon, Sejak, Joongjak, Daejak, Yeopcha), black tea, fermented tea.

The world of Korean tea can be confusing with different terminology, history, and custom.

Before I overwhelm you with details, I decided to prepare this basic guideline, so you can understand the basic terms and how the tea grading system works in South Korea.

South Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

The Rule of Law and Enforcement

Korean Green Tea & Tea Grades Regulation

In 2015, the NAQS introduced the first tea grading system to organise and standardize the artisan loose leaf tea market.

The regulation is controversial til today because the major tea grading system is solely based on harvesting time.

This means if you are growing tea in colder weather where tea buds come out later than the warmer region in South Korea, you might lose a chance to sell your quality tea under a certain name that consumers acknowledge and pay a premium.

Curious about the overall law and enforcement for the tea industry in South Korea? Korean Tea Industry.

Want to know about the specific law and enforcement for the tea grading system in South Korea? Korean Tea Grades.

* They are all written in Korean.

The Official Korean Tea Grades

Korean green tea
Korean ujeon woojeon tea

우전 Ujeon = Woojeon (雨煎)

Grade Name: Ujeon
Meaning: Before the grain rain (gogu, 穀雨).
Harvesting Time: Before Gogu (-4.19)
Harvest: First harvesting/plucking
Leaves: Two leaves and a bud

Tasting Note: A tasting evaluation is non-regulatory. I opted out the tasting notes for this post.

곡우 Gogu (穀雨)

Grade Name: Gogu
Meaning: The first spring rain
Harvesting Time: 7 days within Gogu (4.20-4.27)
Harvest: First harvesting/plucking
Leaves: Two leaves and a bud

Honestly, I’ve never heard of Gogu as a tea grading before I read the regulation.

People don’t use it except the government official who probably doesn’t drink any artisan tea.

Gogu is known as one of the seasonal days in Spring. It’s an important day for agriculture. That’s about it.

Korean tea sejak
Korean tea sejak
source: osulloc

세작 Sejak (細雀)

Grade Name: Sejak
Meaning: A sparrow’s small and thin tongue
Harvesting Time: 4.28-4.30
Harvest: First or second harvesting/plucking
Leaves: Three leaves and a bud

Korean green tea joongjak
image source: cholocwon

중작 Joongjak (中雀)

Grade Name: Joongjak
Meaning: A sparrow’s medium tongue
Harvesting Time: 5.1-5.31
Harvest: First or second harvesting/plucking
Leaves: Three leaves and a bud

Korean Green Tea & Grades Daejak
I only had roasted green tea in Daejak.

대작 Daejak (大雀)

Grade Name: Daejak
Meaning: A sparrow’s large tongue
Harvesting Time: After June 1
Harvest: Third-fourth harvesting/plucking
Leaves: tea leaves

The Daily Korean Tea Grades (Unofficial)

Korean green tea

Apart from Ujeon, Sejak, Joongjak, Daejak, there are also newly created and commonly used terms.

특우전 Teuk Ujeon

Korean Green Tea & Grades Teuk Ujeon
image source: https://t1.daumcdn.net/cfile/tistory/990ACD3359D11C6109

Geographically, it is very rare to harvest tea leaves in South Korea before April.

However with climate changes, sometimes tea farms harvest tea buds earlier than usual. With these tea buds, tea farms make the most tender and delicate tea.

These teas are sold as Teuk Ujeon means Supreme Ujeon, a higher version of Ujeon. It generally costs $100-150 USD for 30-40g.

But that’s what tea companies say. To me, it is another bad sales tactic. If I compare Teuk Ujeon to Ujeon, I barely see a difference or no difference at least on the internet. If you tried Teuk Ujeon that is truly superior to Ujeon, please let me know.

Korean Green Tea & Grades Yeopcha
Korean Green Tea & Grades Yeopcha

엽차 Yeop Cha

Grade Name: Yeop Cha
Meaning: loose leaf tea
Harvesting Time: After June 1
Harvest: Fifth harvesting/plucking
Leaves: tea leaves and stems

You can easily purchase Yeop Cha from common Korean supermarkets such as Homeplus or Emart.

Since Yeop Cha is considered as the lowest tea grade that consumers don’t bother to pay a premium, I think NAQS opted out this category within the tea grading system.

For example, I purchased 150g of Yeop Cha less than 5 USD from Homeplus.

But you know what? Just because the market determines what is high and low quality doesn’t mean it carries the same value to you. I like Yeop Cha as much as Ujeon.

Korean Green Tea & Grades Sejak, Jakseolcha
source: teazen

작설차 Jaksul Cha = 세작 Sejak

Many Korean teas are associated with a sparrow. I am not sure what’s so important about Korean tea and how it resembles a sparrow’s tongue, which is not even appealing. Anyway, Jaksul means a sparrow’s tongue. Jaksul Cha is usually equivalent to Sejak.

Korean Green Tea & Grades Cheotmulcha
source: sundawon

우전 Ujeon = 첫물차 Cheotmul Cha

Cheotmul Cha means the first flush, usually means Ujeon.

Remember in order to sell tea under the name Ujeon, a producer needs to follow the official guideline?

What happens if there is a tea farm that gets tea buds later than usual and fails to prepare tea before the deadline?

  1. Risk fines (under $10,000 USD) and sell tea as Ujeon anyway.
  2. Sell Ujeon under Cheotmulcha, which means first flush tea.

Ujeon has the highest branding power, so Cheotmulcha is sold cheaper than Ujeon. This means you can purchase tea as good as Ujeon and pay less.

Although I love bargains I don’t wanna rip off hard-working farmers. This is one of the reasons why I think the regulation needs to be changed.

Korean Green Tea & Grades (Ujeon, Sejak, Joongjak, Daejak, Yeopcha)

For Your Information, Cha = Tea

Cha means tea in Korean. So whenever you see the word cha, you can use tea interchangeably.

  • Jaksul Cha (작설차) = Jaksul tea
  • Dumul Cha (두물차) = Dumul tea
  • Ujeon Cha (우전차) = Ujeon tea
Korean Green Tea & Grades (Ujeon, Sejak, Joongjak, Daejak, Yeopcha)

Lastly, Tea is cultural. Just because a certain term sounds cool, you can’t apply it everywhere.

When it comes to East Asia or any place, respecting originality is your best move, unless you have a legitimate reason.

⁣While I am writing this post, I’ve noticed more and more tea companies in the West categorized Korean tea as sencha. Sencha is the term for Japanese tea.

If you are an avid tea drinker, you can easily notice that Korean sencha sounds as awkward as Sri Lanka Darjeeling or Yunnan FTGFOP. ⁣There is no reason to call any Korean tea as sencha unless a specific reason is backed up.

Korean Green Tea & Grades (Ujeon, Sejak, Joongjak, Daejak, Yeopcha)

Are you considering to introduce Korean tea to the market? Please research or consult a professional before you mistakenly use a symbol or terminology.

Foreign affairs are no joke. No matter how your intention is innocent, your ignorance can put you in danger.

I hope this post helped you to understand some tea terms and the grading system for Korean tea.