Wild bush teas have been growing in Korea for over 1000’s of years.
I like to call them ‘survivors’, and its history reflects very similarly to us Koreans as people.
Multiple times throughout history, Koreans have been occupied as a puppet state for the Chinese or the Japanese. Our national identity suffered greatly, and in some cases, it was our own people (the Korean royalty) that allowed it. Only when freedom fighters fought against the regime, that our identity sparked once again.
Korean green tea also had similar fate. Tea plantations had to be burned down numerous times throughout history due to either economic decline, Government order, or Japanese invasions. This allowed only odd survivors to grow independently in the wild for years until its time came. Once the economy was back on track, farmers would re-cultivate theses wild bush teas to start new plantations.
One of the latest examples of this would be during World War 2. Japanese occupation of Korea saw new tea seeds being planted in the valleys of Bosung. However, shortly after during the Korean War, these plantations had to be burned down so that essential crops can be grown. It took years for the tea culture to return back to Bosung, but when it did, wild bush teas were used.
It may seem like a stretch of a metaphor to compare Korean identity with Korean wild bush tea…but I like it. We, Koreans, much like these wild bush tea will keep coming back no matter what.
Always. Going the distance.