I was sitting at my desk and pondering how to include more 사람 (saram= people) within this blog. I know so many cool peeps with a Korean connection; some living there right now, many K-pop and K-drama nuts, those from my language course, etc, and it’s about time to represent this enthusiastic bunch. But where to start?
As I considered, I glanced to the desk next to me, which belongs to my supervisor and friend Shero. This is what I saw:
Did my eyes deceive me, or were these packets of the specially cultivated Korean nokcha (green tea) that I had heard so much about? I looked closer; these were the real deal alright, but what were they doing in our office? The answer is simple: Korea’s presence in London is more widespread that one might think. And sometimes it takes a few tea leaves to remind quite how many Londoners are influenced by East Asian culture.
Unbeknown to me until now, Shero was a fellow kimchi soul. I had to get to the bottom of this, and was lucky enough to have a very interesting chat with him that started on the subject of tea, and ended with meditation, medicine and more…
Why green tea?
The taste of wood and leaves in green tea is very earthy and calming for me. Green tea is healthy, tasty and culturally satisfying.
Where did you get the tea?
I got this specific packet of Korean tea from a very nice old fellow who has a tea stall once a month at Borough Market. He sources his teas directly from growers in Korea, and gives great tastings.
How long have you been drinking this kind of tea?
Over a month, and I want to continue for a long time.
Do you use Korean ingredients when you cook?
I love kimchi, and there are many more aspects of Korean Kitchen-hood that I would like to explore (Note: Kimchi Soul will be on hand to help you out!)
Which other aspects of East Asian culture are part of your daily life?
Meditation, food and medicine. Also, these days I am reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which is set in Japan.
What attracts you to these?
Meditation is blissful after or before a hectic day. Tea is healthy and calming as well as energising. Asian food, the right kind, is super-tasty and healthy. The East Asian way of curing the body and aligning its energy centres to achieve health is also more appealing to me than the treatment of symptoms that is most of Western medicine’s method.
How important is East Asian influence to London?
Very important. I think London would be a poorer place if not for East Asian influence as well as additions. Shops, mini-towns, restaurants, all of these are just the surface. Then just below that are the people, their activities, their meditations and healings. London is a great place to be partly because of the massive East Asian veins criss-crossing the city.
After speaking to Shero, I was soon convinced to try some nokcha myself, as I’m sure those reading will also be compelled to do. I found it very refreshing and cleansing, and it filled me with that same nostalgic feeling evoked by seeing a man carrying his girlfriend’s Louis Vuitton handbag, or smelling the sourness of freshly made kimchi.
I am so glad that I discovered Shero’s love of nokcha. Not only did it reunite me with the stuff, make me aware of a Borough Market vendor who stocks it (to be investigated- watch this space!), and allow me to appreciate its true qualities; it also gave me an insight into his interests and lifestyle.
Nokcha: Healthy, calming, energising
I look forward to getting to grips with other Londoners who share this city’s kimchi soul. In the meantime, I think I’ll just have a nice cuppa… Korean style!
- A huge 고맙습니다 to Shero for being a featured 사람, and for sharing his thoughts and experiences 🙂
- Green tea is popular in the UK these days, and can be bought in teabag form from any supermarket
- The Korean varieties can be found in Asian supermarkets and health food stores, and will be labelled ‘Nokcha‘ /녹차
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