What is Longjing tea aka. Dragon Well?
For a bottle to be called champaign, it has to be produced in Champaign, France with designated wine houses. And for a tea to be called Longjing, it has to be produced in the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang.
Even if the tea is produced in the city of Hangzhou, different regions grow different grades of teas. Longjing grew in the Xihu region makes the highest grade of Longjing.
Zhejiang province in China is the perfect place for Longjing growth. It’s hot during summer and warm during winter.
It has plenty of sunshine all year round and plenty of rain during the warm months. It sits by the ocean and surrounded by beautiful mountains and lakes.
The origin of Longjing tea can be traced as far back as the Tang dynasty. In the Qing dynasty, the Chinese Emperor Qianlong loved Longjing tea so much that he visited the tea factory four times to observe the making of the Longjing Tea.
the 18 tea plants picked by the Chinese Emporer Qianlong
The making of Longjing tea
The time of the year the tea leaves are picked makes a huge difference in the quality of Longjing tea.
The highest grade Longjing tea is picked three days before the Qingming Festival, that’s 12 days after the spring equinox, usually falls on April 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Because of the low temperature, there are very few leaves that are ready to be picked during this time, so the tea gathered during this time is especially rare and expensive.
It is believed that after a long winter of rest, the tea plant gathered enough nutrients from the soil, so the first batch of tea always has the most nutrients and the most aromatic. Those leaves are full of amino acid and less bitter, the taste is smoother than any other batch. And because it was still cold, there are fewer pests and fewer usages of pesticides.
The second grade Longjing is picked after the Qingming festival and before Guyu(Guyu happens between April 19th to April 21st). The third grade is picked during Lixia, also known as the beginning of summer according to the traditional East Asian calendar.
Because there are many kinds of Longjing, there are many ways to process the tea leaves. The highest grade Longjing tea is fried by hand, at a temperate around 176 °F to maintain the color and integrity of the tea. Each processing batch can only be weighted by about 3.5 oz.
The taste of Longjing tea
Dry Longjing leaves are green with some yellow undertones. Its leaves are flat and straight with smooth surfaces.
Brewed Longjing has a color or jade with a yellow undertone. Its taste is fresh, smooth, and aromatic.
How to brew Longjing tea
There are several ways of brewing Longjing tea. Some people like to pour water into glassware first, then pour dry leaves. Some people like to fill the glass halfway with water, add leaves, then top it off with water. Some people like to pour leaves first, then fill it up with water. No matter which way you choose, the fun part is watching the leaves float, dance, and transform in the water. After you finish the tea halfway, you can add more water. Longjing tea can be steeped many times. The more you steep it, the longer you should let it sit before drinking it.
Use 167 °F to 185 °F water, never use boiling water as Longjing tea is not fully fermented and boiling water can destroy and even bring out the bitterness in it.
Benefits of Longjing tea
In this article, I talked about the benefits of green tea. Since Longjing is a part of the green tea family, it has many known health benefits:
- Longjing tea has antibiotic properties
- Longjing tea helps weight regulation
- Longjing tea helps with heart diseases
- Longjing tea keeps you in an alerted calmness
- Longjing tea helps blood flow
- Daily consumption of Longjing tea is believed to prevent cancer (more study needed)
- Longjing tea is good for the teeth
When not to drink Longjing tea
- When you are on an empty stomach
It’s generally a bad idea to drink tea on an empty stomach.
- When the tea has been sitting there for a long time
Longjing is a delicacy for it’s a pricy drink, but each batch should be freshly prepared to avoid bacterial growth.
- When stepped too many times
The optimal number of times to brew the same batch of Longjing is three, after that there is barely any nutriments or aroma left.
- An excessive amount of leaves in one single cup
Longjing is known for its delicate quiet aroma. Using too many leaves in one single cup not only overpowering its taste but increase its caffeine content.
Have you tried the queen of Chinese tea? Leave your comments below!