Long Jing Shi Feng
This tea, which is the most prestigious tea in China, is cultivated near Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province and renowned for its magniftcent Lake of the West (Xi Hu). Today, because of its enormous popularity, the Long Jing appellation is overused. It is therefore important to differentiate between Xi Hu Long Jing and Zhejiang Long Jing. Grown in the region of origin, Xi Hu Long Jing teas are processed entirely by hand, from picking to final sifting. Zhejiang Long Jing teas are harvested throughout the province and are, for the most part, picked by hand and processed mechanically. As this tea is the most frequently copied tea in China, it must be noted that the majority of Long Jing teas on the market are produced outside the region of origin and often even in other provinces. They are also usually just poor imitations.
Most Xi Hu Long Jing teas are grown on two facing mountain slopes, the famous Shi Feng ("Lion's Peak"), actual site of the village of Long Jing, and Meijiawu, the neighboring village. The spring harvest is divided into two categories. The most prestigious is the imperial picking, known as ming qian, which takes place before the feast of Qingming, around March 20. Two weeks later it is the yu qian picking, which is also a high- qualily harvest.
According to legend, around the year 250, a Taoist monk came across a dragon hiding in a well not far from Hangzhou. The peasants were praying night and day for the rains to return because a terrible drought was devastating the region. The monk told the villagers of his discovery, and they implored the dragon in the well to come to their aid. As soon as they started praying, clouds began to gather and it began to pour with rain. To commemorate the event, the tea and an ancient temple nearby were given the name "Dragon's Well."
Anecdotes of "royal tea"
In the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Qianlong made six tours to the region south of the Yangtze River. He went to the Longjing tea district four times, watched how the tea was harvested and made, and tasted tea and wrote poetry there. He brought Longjing tea back for Empress Dowager. After drinking the tea, her liver-fire disappeared. She praised Longjing tea as a panacea. Emperor Qianlong immediately issued an edict to give the 18 tea trees before the Hu Gong Temple an honour of “imperial tea”, which then were collected and made tea every year exclusively for his mother. Since then, Longjing tea was renowned at home and abroad. People are searching for Longjing in an endless stream.
West Lake Longjing
Since ancient times, scene of West Lake and Longjing tea have long been described in quotes of famous literati. Su Dongpo said that "Good Tea as Pretty Lady", a high praise of West Lake Longjing. It is green in color, fragrant, and sweet with beautiful shape, and due to these four splendiferous characters, known in China and other countries.
The tender green leaves harvested on the slopes of Shi Feng are of a classic long, flat shape. Fine notes of seaweed and raw scallops emanate from the steeped leaves. The jade-green liquid releases a gentle vegetal aroma. In the mouth, the herbaceous attack is and slightly sweet. The vegetal opening is full and followed by notes of green bean, cooked fennel and arugula in a gently unctuous stream. The finish is long in the mouth and mildly astringent, with a remarkable balance between sweetness and strength.
Yuqian Longjing and Mingqian Longjing
Long jing tea can be harvested several times a year, but the tea is especially valuable if picked in an early time. Mingqian Longjing is done before "Tomb-sweeping Day", highest grade in all kinds of tea. Mingqian Longjing is harvested before Grain Rain, also top tea. The tea picked in other times is inferior.