With the first blooms of spring beginning to show, our hearts turn to the sweet, green and fresh flavors of green teas. And high on our list is the unique green called Dragon Well (Chinese- Longjiing 龍井茶).
Traditionally grown, harvested and processed in small batches by hand, in Hangzhou, Zhejian Province , Dragon Well has a long and acclaimed history in tea culture. For us here, the thing we like best about Dragon Well is the ability to create an infusion that, as nearly as possible, brings forward the flavor and quality of fresh tea leaves as we can have without being in the fields in China!
Each leaf must be free from defects or tears, with careful, controlled picking being the first step to creating this fine, handcrafted tea. The leaf of Dragon Well for steeping is long and broad, a unique quality that results from pan roasting that broadens and flattens out the leaves. With the leaves moving from withering to roasting so quickly, there is little to no oxidation found in Dragon Well, which leads to the beautiful green appearance of the leaves you see in the infusion, and the great freshness and sparkling vegetal quality you taste in the cup. Examining a freshly steeped Dragon Well leaf will show a bright green leaf with a smooth texture, looking almost as if you had just plucked it yourself moments ago.
Our brewing recommendations for Dragon Well:
- Place one heaping teaspoon of tea leaves into your brewing vessel
- Pour water at 190 degrees over the leaves and cover
- Steep for 3 minutes
- Decant and enjoy
- Steep a second time if you wish, with 190 degree water and slightly longer steep time
Most preparations we have seen recommend using 175 degree water for Dragon Well, but upon several brewing exercises, we felt that a slightly higher temperature of water led to a more vibrant and representative cup. Lower temps led to a insipid quality, regardless of times steeped.