I first wanted to take the opportunity to thank Teagini for the opportunity to try this amazing tea. This company offers a lot of rare Chinese teas, and I have been drinking them all week. I would really recommend checking these out when you get a chance!
Zhe Jiang Xi Hu Long Jin is the most sought after of the Long Jin or dragonwell teas. Dragonwell tea is one of China’s ten famous teas. It is so prized that it was served to Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger during their legendary trip to China. Dragonwell gets its name because in the town where it was grown there is a very deep well of water and it is rumored that a dragon occasionally comes by to take a drink. Because the tea is grown nearby, it inherited the name from this mythical well.
I was really excited to try this tea. I steeped it at 85 degrees celcius for 4-5 minutes. Here are my tasting notes from this session:
The aroma coming from this tea is smooth and vegetal. It has a hint of grassiness to it. I find that of the Chinese green teas, Long Jin tastes and smells the most like a Japanese green tea.
The taste of this tea is vibrant, grassy and full bodied. Although it is not bitter, it does have a little bit of astringency that you feel on the sides of your tongue. The mouthfeel is not dry, it actually leaves you with a lingering, mouthwatering note towards the end. I would still characterize this tea as sweet, although it is not as sweet as the Qian Dao Yu Ye teas I have tried in the past couple of days.
The teas main defining characteristic is its vegetal and grassy flavors. Normally Chinese green teas are full bodied, with a little bit of bitterness to it and even, in many cases, a smokiness. Japanese green teas are sweet, umami and vegetal. This is because while Japanese green teas are steamed, Chinese green teas are usually pan-fired, which alters the taste. Dragon well is unique in that it tastes a little bit more like a Japanese green tea. It does still have a full-bodied flavor that is quite nice, and it has the astringency at the end, so it really is the best of both worlds.
I’ve been drinking Dragonwell tea for a long time now, and it has become one of my favorite green teas. With Dragonwell, it is also easy to tell what level of quality you are getting with the tea. You want to look for large, unbroken leaves that are uniform in color. This usually means they have been carefully selected and hand picked. With this tea, you could really see the quality in the leaves and it shows in the cup. I really enjoyed this tea, so much so that I decided to give it a second steeping.
I used a higher temperature and a longer steep time, hoping to extract a little bit more out of this tea. Sometimes it is good to push a tea to its limits a bit to figure out what else is there. I usually start off with the recommended steep time and then I raise the temperature or the time to get a different tea experience.
It was clear that this tea lost a lot during the first steeping. There wasn’t much of the grassy or vegetal flavors left, but it still had the bold full-bodied flavor that I enjoyed in the first steeping. There is still a little bit of astringency you feel on the side of the tongue, but it is nowhere near as strong as with the first steeping. There is a sweet lingering aftertaste with a hint of astringency, but it doesn’t last quite as long as it did with the first steeping. The only thing I notice more in the second steeping is the sweetness. It hangs on towards the end to really smooth out the tea and make it quite enjoyable.
This is a fun tea to have around, and I particularly like to enjoy it outside. The fresh aroma and brisk grassiness reminds me of nature. Right now I am sitting with the sun on my face and the birds chirping as I sip this beautiful green tea. What a great way to enjoy tea!