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3rd July 2020


Organic Dragon Well Supreme: In Context

Written by Will

How does Dragon Well S compare to six other teas?

Dragon Well Supreme, known as Long Jing in China, is one of my favourite green teas. The launch of our fresh batch is a highlight in my tea calendar and its arrival this year marks another successful spring season – despite the odds.

Our 2020 batch captures the essence of spring freshness and vibrancy and is the best expression of iconic Dragon Well tea in our range. And it has landed at just the right time. As the weather in the UK starts to warm up, I love a smooth, sweet cup of Dragon Well to cool me down in the early afternoon. The bright and grassy aroma from the fresh leaves is something I look forward to every year. If you’re already a fan of Dragon Well, maybe you have a similar experience? If you’re not so familiar with it, don’t worry – you’re in the right place.

Green tea comes with a lot of hype – usually around its health benefits, rather than its deeper qualities as an enjoyable drink. Dragon Well Supreme proves that green tea certainly can be enjoyable, but it’s not the only green tea that does that. Here, I’m going to compare it to four other green teas (as well as an oolong and a white tea) that also offer sweet, spring-fresh qualities in abundance. Hopefully, the comparisons will help you find the most enjoyable experience for you. First, though, a bit more about Dragon Well Supreme itself…

Sorting through the leaves to remove any small, broken leaves and stalks
Sorting through the leaves to remove any small, broken leaves and stalks.

What are the essential taste and characteristics of Dragon Well Supreme?

Dragon Well Supreme is a pan-fried green tea. It is easy to enjoy and forgiving – simple to make well, it has enough complexity to be very engaging. The aroma of the leaves is fresh and grassy with a hint of warmth from the frying process. Pan frying also gives its leaves a flattened, spear-like shape, while locking in the jade green colour. The primary flavour of Dragon Well is nuttiness – I always think of lightly toasted nuts alongside a grassy sweetness that’s complemented by a creamy, thick texture. This is a tea that is cool and refreshing, with enough flavour to be fully satisfying. The mark of our top-grade Dragon Well Supreme is just how well it delivers these characteristic flavours.

Builder's tea in China is typically loose leaves from a single origin dropped into a glass
Dragon Well made Grandad style - try dropping a few leaves in a glass, topping up with hot water and sipping it slowly. It's how the locals do it in Hangzhou.

Dragon Well S vs Jade Sword

Jade Sword has a vegetal and fresh aroma, whereas Dragon Well Supreme is instantly more refreshing and refined, with a fragrance of cut grass and fresh meadows. The flavour of Jade Sword is less complex – it is rounder and broader, with a hint of umami (the savoury element of green tea). Dragon Well is sweeter, with that distinct nutty flavour and a creamier texture.

If you’re new to green tea, Jade Sword is a great way in. Dragon Well is certainly accessible and enjoyable, but with greater nuance in flavour and a more engaging character, it’s a tea you don’t want to rush. So, while Jade Sword is for those who want to add an easy going, great tasting cup of green tea to their daily routine, I’d recommend Dragon Well Supreme if you want a tea to really focus on and enjoy in a special moment.

Dragon Well S vs Baojing Gold

This was our first batch of spring green tea from this year. Like Dragon Well Supreme, it stands out for its ability to impart the truest expression of spring freshness. The aroma from Baojing Gold is tender, pure and fresh, while Dragon Well Supreme has the added depth of nuttiness that carries through into the flavour. For a tea that appears so light, the power of Baojing Gold is in its umami or savoury complexity, which develops across the palate and lasts long into the finish, carried by it's thick velvet texture. This is a marked difference from the sustained sweetness of Dragon Well Supreme.

Baojing Gold is great for those who seek a complex and engaging green tea, with extra depth in the finish and a velvet mouthfeel. Dragon Well Supreme should be the go-to for anyone who likes a sweeter ending to each sip.

Yongan Garden is certified organic - it's unusal for the area but it makes a big difference to then environment.
Yong'an Garden in Chun'an County, Hangzhou - where our Organic Dragon Well is from

Dragon Well S vs Shimen Green Mountain

Shimen was our supreme pick of spring green teas from 2019 and is more similar to Baojing Gold.   light lime-green infusion, with abundant floral aromas, it’s a contrast to the distinct grassiness of Dragon Well Supreme. Both teas have a complex flavour: the highlight of Shimen is its subtle citrus undertones, whereas Dragon Well Supreme has characteristic notes of warm chestnuts. The Shimen infusion has a much headier sweetness, which comes from using only the most delicate, young buds to make this tea. There is a difference in texture between the two: Dragon Well Supreme is slightly creamier, while Shimen is thick but much syrupier.

For a smooth, green tea with more of a sweet and floral character, Shimen Green Mountain is perfect. Go for Dragon Well if you want that sweetness balanced by a hint of warmth.

Dragon Well S vs Sencha Reiwa

Instead of being fried during the fixation process like their Chinese cousins, almost all Japanese green teas are steamed. This helps to lock in a deep green colour, adding umami richness and steamy vegetal notes to Sencha Reiwa’s final flavour. Pan-fried green teas like Dragon Well Supreme tend to have a slightly more rounded quality and sweetness with less focus on umami. Both these teas are high quality and complex, but the frying gives a fresher aroma and sweetness to the Dragon Well, whereas the steaming gives Sencha Reiwa a much deeper savoury taste and marine-like aroma.

If you prefer a more refreshing green tea with a brighter fragrance and creamier, sweet grassiness, Dragon Well Supreme is a great choice. If you want a richer, more vegetal experience with plenty of umami, Sencha Reiwa is the tea for you.

The leaves are flat and spear shaped from being pressed against the side of a hot wok or surface during processing.
The leaves are flat and spear shaped from being pressed against the side of a hot wok or surface during processing.

Dragon Well S vs Li Shan

Li Shan is an oolong rather than a green tea. It is lightly oxidised before the fixation process, but is still fairly green in colour and shares some of the green freshness found in Dragon Well. What’s different is the partial oxidation, which gives the infusion of Li Shan a wider range of flavour notes.

Li Shan’s aroma is full of floral and fruity notes – look for hints of osmanthus blossom and fresh apricot. It's texture is thick and creamy. This is a contrast to the grassy fragrance of Dragon Well Supreme and lighter creamy body, but these two are well matched in their complexity and refreshing nature. The broad aromas of Li Shan carry through to its flavour, which is smooth and creamy like Dragon Well’s, though it has a more prevalent syrupy sweetness with flavours of tropical fruit and flowers. Where Dragon Well Supreme comprises only the freshest spring pickings, the leaves used to make Li Shan are larger and more robust, giving it a punchier flavour profile. If Dragon Well captures the freshness of spring in its flavour, then Li Shan tastes more like early summer.

In sum, if you like tea with a thick, satisfying texture and enjoy more fruity and indulgent flavours, Li Shan is a great one to try. Go to Dragon Well Supreme for an equally creamy but more grassy and refreshing infusion, with more of a cooling effect.

Dragon Well S vs White Peony

Finally, White Peony is a refreshing, complex and deeply floral white tea, unlike green teas, White Peony will never be vegetal. Like Dragon Well Supreme, it is spring picked, but rather than going through a fixation process like green and oolong tea, it is simply picked, withered and sun-dried. This maintains the pure taste of the tea leaves, delivering a super fresh and floral character.

White Peony has a bright aroma of spring meadows and wildflowers – reminiscent of Dragon Well’s grassy freshness but with much more punch. This one really does have a heady, syrupy sweetness, deepened by the inclusion of fresh young leaves for added floral complexity and structure. Dragon Well Supreme is layered in a similar way but with fewer floral notes and more of that quintessential toasted chestnut flavour. The texture of White Peony is thick and smooth, but less creamy than Dragon Well, though the finish is equally refreshing.

If you like your tea with more floral and syrupy sweet flavour, but still with plenty of depth and complexity, White Peony could be your new favourite tea. If you want refreshing complexity, but perhaps aren’t a fan of floral flavours, Dragon Well Supreme is the one for you.

DWS in Context