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21st March 2019


3 Grades of Dragon Well | China's Most Famous Green Tea

Dragon Well Tea - China's Most Famous Green Tea

Dragon Well – aka ‘Longjing’ – is China’s most famous green tea. Produced in and around the stunning and rich area of West Lake, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province for hundreds of years. As well as production of this iconic tea, the surrounding villages draw visitors for its numerous temples, traditional arts and crafts displays and peaceful walks in the surrounding hills.

Orthodox West Lake Dragon Well production focus on a small group of famous areas – including Shifeng or Lion's Peak, Meijiawu village, Wengjia mountain and Longwu village. With any such heralded or prestige item, however, comes the risk of forgery and imitation, so it takes a confident tea taster to ascertain the true authenticity of Longjing when sourcing.

Grades of Dragon Well Tea

All our three grades are classified as genuine Dragon Well according to the EU PDO registered for this tea in 2011. Within China itself there are three classifications, separating Dragon Well from the West Lake area, from tea produced outside this traditional and small production area (but still within Zhejiang province). Tea grown outside Zhejiang province cannot be sold in EU as Longjing, nor within China as Longjing. You can grow the same cultivars and process the tea leaves in identical ways regardless of location but they will not taste the same, which is why there are tight controls in protecting this beautiful, ancient tea.

Why 3 Grades? What Makes Them Different?

We provide three different grades to make delicious Dragon Well accessible to all who want to enjoy it and the core differences are picking date, cultivar, processing and origin (yes, even if they are from the same province). The only other variable is how much temperature is used in the firing, which gives varying degrees of roasted flavour – a balance between green, vegetal and roasted, nutty flavours. We believe too much roasting kills the vibrancy of the leaf, so prefer lighter roasting profiles (and tend to request this from our producers).

Our Three Dragon Well Grades

Dragon Well Tea on Bamboo Drying Tray

Dragon Well

Cultivar: Jiu Keng Zhong

Origin:  Chun'an

Farmer: Mr. Chen

Picked: Spring (pre-rain)

Sadly it's becoming increasingly difficult to find authentic teas of this character at such an accessible price. We are incredibly lucky to have our Head of Tea, Tom on the ground speaking with local friends to be able to source such a great example of Longjing for you to enjoy.

The leaves are processed at the local cooperative, where the cost of the machines is shared by a village, all of whom own small gardens. Our entry grade to Dragon Well, this uplifting green tea presents tasty hazel-sweet notes as a result of light pan firing.

Organic Dragon Well Supreme

Cultivar: Jiukeng

Origin: Zhejiang

Farmer: Mr Du

Picked: Spring (pre-rain)

Young, plump buds are picked early - pre-Qingming - for this tea. This year’s crop comes from Mr Du’s ‘Tianmu’ organic garden in Hangzhou, with heavy forest cover and a beautifully clean environment also near to Thousand Island Lake – a truly scenic destination. The traditional Jiukeng cultivar from which this crop is made has its authentic home here in the ancient cultivation and thousands of years’ history of China’s most famous green tea.

Dragon Well West Lake

Cultivar: Qunti Zhong

Origin: Longwu

Farmer: Mr Shen

Picked: Spring (pre-rain)

From the beautiful origin of West Lake where the tea gardens are nestled in the rolling hills, this grade is the best expression of traditional Dragon Well character. Picked between 30th and 31st March 2016, our pre-rain Dragon Well West Lake is sourced from Li Tongwu garden; a prosperous village bustling with traditional arts and crafts displays, and processed in Wai Tong Wu village. The aromas are subtle and the most telling quality is the thick, syrupy texture: if you know your Dragon Well,  you can tell it’s from West Lake and grown from the original cultivar.