Dragon-Well Tea

Dragon-Well Tea Leaves

One thing I always look forward to in springtime every year is enjoying the Dragon-Well tea from HangZhou. Dragon-Well is a relatively new member in the Chinese most famous ten teas group, and it fully lives up to its expectation. Dragon-Well was already famous in Tang dynasty (618-907) but under a different name. Monks, among others, planted this tea in monasteries in the Ling-Yin and Tian-Zhu areas. During Song dynasty (960-1279), three tribute teas were from HangZhou area, and  in HangZhou as the capital city, tea was widely appreciated by all classes.  Around this time, some monks started to plant “Bai-Yun” tea, one of the tribute teas, in the old Dragon-Well temple at the foothill of the “Shi-Feng” mountain. From that time on Dragon-well Tea became an official name for teas from that area.  Dragon-Well tea reached its pinnacle in Qing dynasty (1616-1911) as the Emperor Qian-Long (ruling period: 1735 – 1796) came to HangZhou four times to visit the tea plantations. Emperor Qian-Long had reserved the eighteen oldest tea plants, which had been planted in front of the “Hu-Gong” temple, to provide tribute tea for him. He also had written many poems to show his appreciation of the Dragon-Well tea, the best spring water, and the beautiful scenery in HangZhou area.   

Dragon-Well Tea Liquor

The best Dragon-Well is harvested before Qing-Ming festival on April 5 each year.  Forty thousand hand-plucked young buds can only produce 500 grams of top quality Dragon-Well tea.  Dragon-Well, a tea often served at the national banquet in China, has four best-in-class qualities: the beautiful shape of the leaf, the jade color of the tea liquor, a subtle vegetative aroma, and its unique light sweet fragrant flavor.

Dragon-Well is a very delicate green tea. If you don’t protect it by sealing it carefully and storing it in a proper place after opening the tea bag, the aroma weakens quickly. The ideal conditions for storing Dragon-Well are in a dark place with less than 50 percent humidity, and where the temperature is between 5 – 7 degrees Celsius. Also the oxygen in the tea container should be less than one tenth of one percent and the water in the tea itself less than seven percent.

Beautiful West Lake

I like to use guy-wan to brew my favorite Dragon-Well tea. But I have also noticed that the locals in HangZhou like to toss the loose tea leaves into a glass or a big mug then pour in hot water. That is certainly a good way to enjoy Dragon-Well’s best-in-class qualities.  If you get a chance to drink Dragon-Well in a tea house by the beautiful West Lake in HangZhou, you will understand why Emperor Qian-Long visited HangZhou four times.

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1 Response to Dragon-Well Tea

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