Longjing tea is a famous variety of green tea from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China where it is produced mostly by hand and has been renowned for its high quality, earning the China Famous Tea title. Longjing is divided into seven grades: Superior, Special, and then 1 down to 5.
Like most other Chinese green tea, Longjing tea leaves are pan fried to stop the fermentation process. In the world of tea, the term "fermentation" refers to the drying of the freshly picked leaves, resulting in enzymatic oxidation. This oxidation is stopped by frying or steaming the leaves before they completely dry out. As is the case with other green teas, Longjing tea leaves are unfermented. When steeped, the tea produces a yellow-green color, a gentle, pure aroma, and a rich flavor. The tea contains Vitamin C, amino acids, and the highest concentration of catechins among teas.
The name of this tea literally means "dragon well", a well that contains relatively dense water, and after rain the lighter rainwater floating on its surface sometimes exhibits a sinuous and twisting boundary with the well water, which is supposed to resemble the movement of a traditional Chinese dragon.
It was widely known that to achieve the best taste from Longjing, spring water from the "Hu Pao Quan" was to be used. Water is boiled then cooled to about 80 degrees celsius before being used to brew the tea leaves.
Longjing tea was granted the status of Gong Cha, or imperial tea, in Qing Dynasty by Chinese emperor Kangxi. According to the legend, Kangxi's grandson Qianlong, visited West Lake during one of his famous holidays.
He went to the Hu Gong Temple under the Lion Peak Mountain (Shi Feng Shan) and was presented with a cup of Longjing tea. In front of the Hu Gong Temple were 18 tea bushes. Emperor Qianlong was so impressed by the Longjing tea produced here that he conferred these 18 tea bushes special imperial status.
Dragon Well Tea flourishes in the mountainous area where mild climate and plentiful rainfall are plentiful year-round. Around West Lake, Shifeng Peak, Longjing Village, Yunxi Mountain, Hupao and Meijiawu Region offer such prime conditions. The history of planting tea trees is rather long in these areas, as the tea sage Lu Yu mentioned in his Book of Tea. The teas grown in these areas were called Shi, Long, Yun, Hu and Mei respectively in the past. Now, with an increase in production, it is generally classified into Xihu (West Lake) Longjing Tea, Qiantang Longjing Tea and Yuezhou Longjing Tea, among which the Xihu Longjing Tea is the best.
The excellent quality of Dragon Well Tea is guaranteed by a super elaborate production process. The picking of the tea leaves emphasizes the importance of timeliness. As a famous among tea growers saying goes, "Tea leaves are a treasure if picked earlier while it is useless as grass if picked too late." Dragon Well Tea leaves are picked during different periods of time. Generally speaking, the best tea is picked before Qingming Festival, which is called Mingqian Tea. The tea leaves picked before Grain Rain are fairly good and are called Yuqian Tea. The selection process of tea leaves is very strict. Only the delicate and complete tea leaves are to be picked. After the fresh leaves have been picked, tea makers should first grade them, as different qualities of leaves need to be dealt with different temperature and techniques. Tea masters will bake the tea by hand using specially made iron pans. Traditional method of making Dragon Well Tea has many ways - grasp, toss, shake, pile, throw, buckle, press, and grind. Experienced tea masters know well how and when to use the certain movements according to the temperature, color and moisture content of tea leaves. Usually, Dragon Well Tea is graded using a scale of six levels from superior quality to low quality. Different levels of tea have different methods to bake.
Infusion of Tea
Good tea must be made with good water, so its flavor can be totally infused. The Dragon Well Tea and Hupao Spring is a perfect match. With less soluble minerals and higher concentration levels of organic nitride, Hupao water is favorable for producing the flavor and fragrance of Dragon Well Tea. The 212F boiled water is not suggested because the high temperature will break the nutrition and taste.? Instead, boiled water at around 185F is appropriate. Usually people use glasses as the tea ware to infuse Dragon Well Tea because the beauty of the tea leaves rising and falling in the water can be enjoyed through the transparent glass. Like the newly-opened orchid, the tea leaves extend their waists gently and slowly. It is no doubt an inspirational experience. Dragon Well Tea adds luster to West Lake and has become another reason for travelers to visit the lake. It is a heavenly unforgettable experience for visitors to take in the beautiful views around the lake while enjoying a cup of Dragon Well Tea.