Sunday, December 14, 2008

West Lake Longjing (Dragon Well) Green Tea

This is the Longjing tea we bought last month at the Tea Culture Town in Sichuan. Since we are getting ready to return to Thailand for a visit, thought I should get caught up on the tasting of all that tea we bought from Chengdu. We want to know what to take to Thailand for Christmas gifts.

Of course, this tea is the most famous and considered the best in all of China. The question will always be asked - is this real West Lake Dragon Well tea? From what I have been able to find on the Internet, the answer is probably yes. But . . . one might ask if this is the exact same tea that has proven itself over and over to be the best? The answer to that question is a resounding no.

The original Dragon Well tea comes from the Lion Peak Mountain in West Lake (Xi Hu) and has many classifications. Is this tea from that particular tea plantation? I am pretty sure it is not. In fact, this tea could probably come from just about any place as far as the Internet says. The lady we bought it from insisted it came from Hangzhou. What we paid for the tea probably puts it in the Hangzhou area but certainly not from the Lion Peak Mountain plantation. There seems to be a lot of Longjing tea named this because of the method used to process it. Guess this means we need to take a trip to Hangzhou to check out all the tea being grown there and get a lesson in the production of this tea.

This green tea is totally different looking than all the other green teas we have tried. The leaves are flat and long with evidence of frying if one looks close enough. The leaves are light and hairy to some extent.

Up close, we can see the effects of the frying process with the dark burned areas visible. The tea leaves are a nice jade green and, once again, extremely light in weight.

The light amber liquid is very beautiful and remained consistently the same color through five infusion with the time of each increased.

The taste of the tea is really fantastic. No bitterness but a honey-like sweetness up front. This tea reminded me of the artesian well we used to go visit as a child in Oklahoma growing up. The water has a distinct freshness to it and a sweet refreshing aftertaste that lasts a long time. It is like drinking well water that has been pulled up from great depths. Sweet, clean, cooling sensation and refreshing.

I do believe that I can drink this tea all the time. Even though I think this is just a Hangzhou green tea processed in the Dragaon Well method, it tastes great. When we return to Chengdu this week, we will definitely buy some more of it.

The leaves are a bright green and, as you can see, very young. This may not be the real deal, but it is a real tea!