This Dragon Well 1st Pre-Qing Ming green tea comes from the village of Long Jing, having been produced in the nearby mountains within Zhejiang province in China. Very well known yet hard to find outside of China this tea features hand flattened yellow-green leaves.
Chinese Green Tea
Longjing, or Dragonwell Tea, is China’s most famous green tea. This tea is so prized in China that a pre-market release sale of Dragonwell in May of 2012, resulted in 500 grams of the tea selling for 180,000 Yuan or $28,499. On a per gram basis, it was purchased at a rate higher than gold was trading that day. On a per cup basis that is $171 per 8 oz of liquor, which is on equivalent to some of the more famous wines. Tea purchased at this rate usually remains in China and exchanged between business men and politicians as gifts.
The name, Dragonwell, comes from Chinese mythology where a village in China was suffering from a severe drought and was advised to pray to the benevolent dragon who lived in the nearby well to bring rain. The rain came and the village in appreciation renamed itself and its tea to Dragonwell. Authentic Dragonwell is produced in Zhejiang providence outside of the fifth largest Chinese city of Hangzhou. The area is also referred to as Xi Hu or the West Lake region and is home to several UNESCO sites, as well as tea plantations. Due to the popularity of Dragonwell, the Chinese government expanded the region they claim as home to authentic Dragonwell to all of Zhejiang province. Originally it was only produced in a 65 square mile area of Xi Hu, made up of four regions – Lion Mountain (Shifeng), the center of the original Dragonwell tea growing area, Mei Jia Wu (Mei family valley), Long Jing and Lin Yin Temple areas. Given the popularity and relatively high price at sale, there are many counterfeit Dragonwell teas on the market, so knowing how the characteristics of the authentic tea is important.
Authentic Dragonwell is harvested by hand and then pan fried to stop the oxidation process. High quality Dragonwell will be have uniform tight, flat lime to dark green dried leaves. The steeped leaves will appear plump with a uniform light green color. Lower quality Dragonwell leaves will turn bluish green to dark green in color after steeping. The tea liquor should be a bright clear jade yellow. This tea is best when brewed between 167-176 degrees Fahrenheit. The North American Tea Championship definition describes the liquor of Dragonwell tea as having a gentle smell of fruitiness with mellow plant notes. In the mouth, the liquor should have a light-bodied, buttery and smooth feel with slight astringency and hints of peas and sweet-corn with husk and a nutty finish.