Home Founder's Stories Omi Tea & Botanicals sips with Korean tea farmers

Omi Tea & Botanicals sips with Korean tea farmers

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Industry: Specialty Teas
Service: E-commerce
Founded: December 2019 in Seoul, Korea
Founder: Jessica Choi
Number of Employees: 1-5
Company Overview
Omi Tea & Botanicals fosters relationships with farmers across Korea and connects their handcrafted traditional teas to the global community.
Contact
Tel: 010-8617-3713
Email: jessicajung.choi@gmail.com

How It All Started

Jessica Choi, Founder of Omi Tea & Botanicals

Maintaining sanity within our busy lives can be a fine balance.

It requires multi-tasking while prioritizing what’s important, savoring the sweet, and reflecting on the sour.

‘Omi’ in Korean refers to the five basic tastes: bitter, salty, sour, sweet, and savory. 

Omi Tea & Botanicals believes a truly fine cup of tea possesses the perfect balance of ‘omi’ and awakens the senses. 

Jessica Choi began taking tea classes in Seoul five years ago, and was surprised to find that sipping tea restored her balance. 

It was her first encounter with fine artisanal tea, and her year-long learning at the specialty tea shop inspired her to seek out more. 

Growing up in Los Angeles, she wasn’t exposed to tea culture, and even when she moved to Seoul for graduate school, she was surrounded by sprouting cafes in the wake of its rising coffee culture. 

To learn more about traditional Korean tea, she went directly to the source – to the tea farms in Jirisan, south of Seoul. 

There she met traditional tea artisans who taught her the craft and each of their unique processes for picking leaves, fermenting, and roasting. 

She continued to connect with tea crafters at Korean tea expos throughout the country, and began to curate specialty tea blends that couldn’t be found in the mass market. 

Jessica began Omi Tea & Botanicals to expose the international and even local tea community to the range of tastes and curative effects of traditional Korean tea.

Challenges Overcome

Currently, Jessica is beginning this venture alone, continuing to learn her craft while working on marketing channels, packaging, and pricing. 

As English is her native language, Omi Tea & Botanicals is starting by focusing on the US market of tea enthusiasts by connecting with lifestyle boutique shops, hosting tea events, and distributing tea directly sourced from Korean farmers to individuals and businesses.

Looking Ahead

Once Omi Tea & Botanicals is officially registered as a company, Jessica hopes to grow her team to bring the fine traditional tea ‘experience’ to Korean locals. 

Below is a sampling of the Omi Tea & Botanical curation:

2019 Deokkeum-cha / Green Tea

Tea in its purest, most immediate form. Plucked and crafted entirely by hand from the second flush of the spring season. Harvested only once a year when leaves have their most intense flavor after winter dormancy. Knowing when and how to control the firing process is of utmost importance in finding the balance of the tea. Leaves are triple roasted in an iron caldron. A fresh, mild, and delicate tea with notes of crunchy rice, green apple, and kelp.  

2019 Balhyo-cha / Fermented Tea

A fermented tea unique to Korea. Every tea artisan has their own special recipe for crafting balhyo-cha. An essential step is covering the leaves in cloth to allow reabsorption of their own aromatics to develop the desired flavor profile. This specific balhyo-cha undergoes a prolonged triple oxidation-fermentation process resulting in an amazingly fragrant distinctive tea. Silky and robust with notes of honeysuckle, butternut squash, and dark chocolate.

2019 Maengmundong-cha / Liriope Tuber Tea

A botanical tea made from the tubers attached to the roots of the liriope plant originating from East Asia. Maengmundong is an ingredient used in traditional Korean medicine to treat a sore throat and dry cough. Tubers undergo a short fermentation followed by a double roasting in an iron caldron. A light, sweet, and savory tea with notes of ginseng, kettle corn, and taro. Naturally caffeine-free. 

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