Longjing Dragon Well Green Tea is one of the most longed for teas hailing from China. West Lake Dragon Well Green Tea is known as one of China's top ten teas. It is frequently served to VIP guests and heads of states who are visiting China. How did it earn such a position? And what makes it unique? Let's find out!
The Legend Of Dragon Well Green Tea
As with any famous Chinese tea, many legends surround it. One of the most famous and probably most likely versions is about the Qianlong Emperor. While visiting West Lake, he was treated to this fine tea and ended up bringing it back to his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor. This is how Longjing became an imperial tea during the Qing dynasty.
Dragon Well Green Tea Production
Longjing tea is produced almost exclusively in Hangzhou region of Zhejiang province, China. It is then divided into two sub-categories: Xihu (West Lake) Longjing and Zhejiang Lonjing, referring to Longjing produced in regions not surrounding the West Lake. While both can be equally good, generally Xihu Longjing is much more prized and more expensive. On the other hand, purchasing Longjing green tea from provinces other than Zhejiang is not recommended.
The harvest standard is one bud with one or two top tea leaves. Only these top leaves of the Longjing tea bush get harvested consequently, with the lower leaves remaining untouched.
Dragon Well Tea is fully produced in the span of one day. After the morning harvest, the tea leaves are withered in a cool, dry climate for about 5 hours. After this, the leaves are quickly pan-fired in 2 rounds, for about 10 minutes each round. The iconic traditional pan-firing method of Longjing green tea requires large woks and very high temperatures. The tea leaves are continuously stirred by the hands of swift, experienced tea farmers.
This processing method is what creates the iconic flat shape of Dragon Well tea leaves, and the favored slightly roasted nutty taste.
The first Xihu Longjing harvest, referred to as Wuniuzao, is the most prized and expensive, costing $200 for 100 grams. Although some tea enthusiasts long to taste this tea, it is generally lighter and less flavorful than subsequent harvests.
Subsequent harvests are lower in price. Good Longjing gets harvested from March till the end of April. Anything harvested past April is usually of low quality, and the hotter weather of subsequent months often requires the use of pesticides to save the tea bushes from the hungry summer bugs.
The best Dragon Well Tea is labeled "Pre-Qing Ming". This means it was harvested before the Qing Ming festival, which usually falls on the 5th of April.
In 2008, the processing method of West Lake Dragon Well Green Tea was listed as a national-level Chinese cultural heritage.
As far as cultivars go, the Long Jing Old Tree and No.43 are the most favored and hold the highest price. Their prominent taste is well-pronounced; it is hard not to fall in love with this tea!
Dragon Well Green Tea Taste
The best Longjing is known for its nutty taste, with hints of chestnuts, hazelnuts, and green beans. On the other hand, it remains refreshing and light. An iconic part of a good Dragon Well Tea is the lack of bitterness.
Brewing Dragon Well Tea
Interestingly enough, the preferred method of brewing Lonjing tea by many is not gong fu style, but grandpa style! Zhejiang province, in particular, is known for the locals' inclination towards this style of tea brewing. Our suggestion is to try both and see which one highlights the tea more! Click here to learn more about grandpa-style tea.