Discover China's Most Famous Tea
A unique green tea with substantial history, Dragon Well – aka Longjing – makes a beautiful introduction to the discovery of Chinese green teas. The most famous tea in China, it was granted imperial status on the spot during the Qing Dynasty when an emperor fell in love with it upon first sip. It has been prized ever since! Here are just some of the reasons why we love it.
One of the most highly regarded teas in China, many tourists flock to Hangzhou's West Lake (its origin) to understand more of the legend.
With anything highly prized, comes the risk of 'fakes' and there are many across China. All our grades are classified according to the EU PDO.
It's unique taste.
Green teas from the Zhejiang terroir are famously thick and velvety. Masterfully pan-fired, the leaves elicit sweet, slightly nutty notes.
With characteristic flattened spears of dappled green and yellow tea leaves, each sip reveals a bright, glowing pine-green infusion.
The Story of Chinese Dragon Well
Dragon Well is the literal translation of the tea's Chinese name 'Longjing' and is named as such owing to an old legend in which a monk begged of a dragon to bring water to the village well, at the peak of a drought. The well remains to this day at its location near to the West Lake, and it is said that when rain falls upon the surface of the dense well-water, it dances and snakes in the shimmering movements of a dragon.
This tea was granted imperial status in the Qing dynasty when the emperor, who had been enjoying tasting Dragon Well (as well as filling his pockets with the leaves), had to make a swift departure to visit his ailing mother. The fragrance of the tea from within his robe piqued her interest and, serving the tea to her, she was cured. These days, the tea represents the ultimate imperial gift, and is exchanged as such.
The Origins of Chinese Dragon Well
To claim 'authentic' status, this tea must be picked in early spring within Hangzhou, which is the true home of this unique tea. The terroir of the Zhejiang region is renowned for it’s thick, velvety green teas but it is the careful pan-firing by masters that elicits the sweet, chestnut flavour and complexity that this tea has become iconic for. When it comes to identifying a 'fake' version of this tea though, it is the thick texture - or lack thereof - that will reveal its authenticity. Processing can be copied, but you cannot argue with the influence of provenance.
The West Lake, and the area of Hangzhou, is surrounded by three peaks - its beauty inspiring poets and artists over the years - and the city. Temples, pagodas and pavillions are dotted throughout the area, making it of great interest to tourists. It was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1982.
What does it taste like?
Masterfully pan-fired, the leaves are flattened into beautiful spears eliciting sweet notes of slightly roasted hazelnuts and chestnuts. Pine-green in colour, each sip reveals the unique character of the hills around Hangzhou’s West Lake. Spring-fresh and velvety, Dragon Well is a fantastic green tea for everyday drinking.
Discover our three different grades of Dragon Well, provided to make it accessible to all who want to enjoy it. The core differences are picking date, cultivar, processing and origin (even if they are from the same province). The only other variable is how much heat 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.