Doncha: A Unique Coin-Shaped Post-Fermented Tea from Korea

Doncha (돈차), also known as jeoncha, is a post-fermented tea produced in Korea with a unique coin shape. The tea has a rich history that dates back to the Later Silla era when Borimsa was founded. Doncha processing starts with steaming the tea leaves, which is uncommon in Korea’s traditional tea processing method, roasting. This article provides an overview of doncha, its history, production process, and how to prepare it. Additionally, we’ll explore the tea’s use in traditional Korean medicine.

History of Doncha

The Jangheung region in South Jeolla Province, where Borimsa is located, was the center of Korean tea culture during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties. Out of the 19 daso (tea places) in Goryeo, 13 were located in the region. Doncha has been called cheongtae-jeon in the Jangheung region, which means “green moss coin.”

Production Process

The tea leaves for doncha are hand-picked in May from wild tea plants that grow somewhere on the southern coast of the Korean peninsula. After picking, the tea leaves are steamed in a gamasot, a traditional cauldron, for 12 hours. The steamed leaves are then pounded in a jeolgu, a traditional mortar, or a maetdol, a traditional millstone. The tea is then shaped into round lumps, sun-dried, and fermented for at least six months. Aging helps to develop an enriched flavor and aroma, and fermentation can last for over twenty years.


To prepare doncha, a lump of tea weighing 7-9 grams can be steeped in 500-600 milliliters of hot water for five to ten minutes. Before consumption, the tea lump is often roasted on both sides over low heat to help sterilize the tea leaves and develop a unique aroma and flavor. Doncha can be re-steeped three to four times while retaining its aroma and flavor.

Use in Traditional Medicine

In traditional Korean medicine, doncha was believed to help alleviate mild symptoms such as stomach aches, aid in detoxification, reduce fever, prevent constipation, and help manage cold symptoms.

Doncha is a unique and flavorful post-fermented tea that is steeped in tradition and culture. Its coin shape and production process set it apart from other teas, making it a fascinating addition to any tea enthusiast’s collection. The tea’s use in traditional Korean medicine is also worth noting, as it adds to the rich cultural significance of this special tea.

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