Dragon Well Tea (Longjing)
Finally! World's Best Green Tea Revealed
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Tribute Dragon Well tea has a light body with a mesmerizing chestnutty aroma.
The Chinese White House consumes 500 kilograms each year. We offer the same tea leaves using the same purity and grading system.
In the old days, emperors drank tribute teas.
For thousands of years, hundreds of these teas existed. Most perished and were forgotten. Today, only one such tea survives: the Tribute Dragon Well.
The modern Forbidden City - Zhongnanhai (Central South Sea) - acquire 500 kilograms each year. The farmers sell the surplus after meeting the quota.
World's Best Green Tea
Being the most famous Chinese tea has invited many imitations. While there are many different types of Dragon Well tea, there is only one Tribute variety.
These are the reasons why this "Queen of Chinese Tea" is so rarely available:
Dragon Well tea is cultivated in 14 provinces. However, an authentic grade only grow in Zhejiang province.
Zhejiang produces 15,000 tonnes each year. Its most renowned variety comes from the West Lake.
West Lake is the Champagne region of Chinese tea. It accounts for just 6% of Zhejiang's production.
Now, West Lake itself contains 30 different types of this tea.
The "Source" of Dragon Well tea is at the Lion Peak Mountain (Shifeng). The best tea gardens here bear the Tribute seal. Their teas go directly to the Chinese President - Mr Hu Jintao.
In China, the highest grade sells for more than 100 dollars per 50 grams (2 ounces). It is not really for everyday consumption.
Fortunately, this site's co-founder - HQ - has extended family that owns three tribute tea gardens. By cutting out the middle-men, I invite you to partake in this most special of green tea.
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Fancy the life of a tea farmer in the Lion Peak Mountain?
You only work 6 weeks a year during the spring harvesting season. Tea plants are rested for the remainder of the year to recuperate.
The highest grades tea buds are picked in the first three days. They yield the fattest and sweetest tea buds.
The essence of the heaven (mountain air), earth (pristine soil) and men (centuries old handicraft) over the entire year all miraculously concentrated in these little tea buds.
Taste = quality = nutrients
According to a 2004 study conducted by the UK Institute of Food Research, Dragon Well tea contains high level of quality markers such as theanine, EGCG and other active compounds.
These nutritions exist in the highest concentration in these young tea buds.
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Tribute Dragon Well tea is highly organic. The Chinese White House lays down strict farming rules. No fertilizers and pesticides are to be used at anytime. Chemical tests are conducted yearly to ensure compliance.
The farming practices have remained Pre-Industrial, relying on the principle of harmony to ensure the equilibrium of pests (insects), anti-pests (birds) and tea plants.
A sanctuary for wild plants and animals, the Lion Peak Mountain has been selected to be a Grade 1 National Protected Zone, the highest level of protection possible.
The tea gardens lie at the top of the Mountain at an altitude of 750 meters, well away from eager tourists visiting West Lake each year.
(Another equally famous West Lake tea is called Meijiawu, they are only Grade 2, one notch below Lion Peak Mountain.)
When you drink a Tribute Dragon Well tea, you are protected by triple guarantees:
The tea buds are at most a few days old. They are so young that they will contain little, if any, environmental contaminants.
The high grades are harvested at the crack of spring. Few insects exist at that time, while the high grades are being picked at least once daily.
- You are drinking the same cup of tea as the Chinese President.
The four villages of Weng, Long, Man and Yang are renown locally for producing the best tea. The quality of tea is said to follow the same order.
HQ's tea gardens are found in the Weng village.
Today, everything is still handpicked and handroasted the traditional way.
It takes a good picker 10 hours to pick 2,000 grams of fresh leaves, which is then made into 500 grams of dried tea.
Dragon Well tea-making is an art form that ranks among the most sophisticated of Chinese green tea.
A novice takes three years to master the complex "10 hands movements" and they roast not more than one kilogram a day.
Nothing has degraded over the last few hundreds years. The tradition is well and alive.
HQ's uncle, who owns a neighboring tea garden, was crowned in April 2002 as the Tea King, because of his mastery of the "10 hands movements".
The family roasts their teas together - so you can be assured of artisan quality of his Tribute Dragon Well tea.
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Which flavors you like will determine which grade to buy. If you are not sure which grade to buy, I recommend getting the 4-in-1 Sampler to start off.
What's in the packet?
Drinking a high grade can be economical. It takes 3 infusions to soak up the large amount of nutritions present in early harvested tea buds. A 50-gram package can make you 50 cups of tea.
To put this perspective, 3 grams of tea leaves a day give you 300 milligrams of antioxidants - equivalent to the amount of antioxidants found in 500 grams of red wine and 1000 grams of apples!
Beginners think of Dragon Well tea's chestnutty roasted flavor. A more experienced green tea drinker will understand she has two distinct flavors: artificial and natural.
Roasted and Toasty
The roasted flavor is overwhelming in the first month, then gradually disappears towards the end of the season. It is more apparent in the lower grades (A or B), where the leaves are roasted longer with heavier hand pressure.
The taste is an extrovert toasted aroma that is the strongest in the first infusion, then fades away quickly.
The higher grade (such as King, Jipin, AAA) leaves undergo minimal processing to preserve their goodness.
They are roasted for a shorter time using lighter hand pressure. This natural inner essence is exquisite, floral and long lasting, peaking only in the second and third infusion.
4-in-1 Sampler - 50 grams (Spring 2015)
The 4-in-1 Sample contains 12.5 grams of B grade, A grade, AAA grade and Jipin grade.
B Grade - 50 grams (5 April 2016)
Picked during the Pre-Rain season, she is often sold as a "disguised" higher grade in Hangzhou city. She may lack the exquisite sweetness of a higher grade, but retain the richness and potency of a mid grade.
A Grade - 50 grams (28 March 2016)
The last Pre-Ming harvest, she is a firm favorite of many customers.
AAA Grade - 50 grams (25 March 2016)
If you love the subtle and rich taste of a high grade green tea, then AAA grade is a good place to start. An early harvest, she has a creamy texture and many exquisite layers of aroma.
I love to drink her in the morning. She left me feeling calm and refreshed for the rest of the day. A special treat, the quality is coming very close to the "best in the world".
Jipin Grade - 25 grams (18 March 2016)
Harvested in the first 2 to 3 days of the season, she is the bestseller for a long time. In the mind of many customers, the best green tea in the world.
King Grade -12.5 grams (18 March 2016)
Exceptional and out of this world, the King grade is picked on the first day of the season by the bosses, then pan-roasted tiniest amount at a time.
Chinese green tea, being non-steamed, usually yields a yellowish liquor. But this King grade has a delightful emerald. Mouth flavors are less rich than Jipin grade. What's fascinating is the nose flavors - a penetrating orchid almost like an oolong in disguise.
The tea garden harvests only 2 kilograms each year.
The Hangzhou City Government issues authenticity certificates to the 9,000 tea gardens in West Lake. They are available to buyers upon request.
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By Diana (Alphington)
Hi Julian, this was my first time trying tea of this calibre. I'd been drinking Chinese green teas - admittedly of rather good quality that I was happy with - that a colleague of my father's brings directly from China. Nothing is in English so I don't know what I'm drinking (though one of them is Melon Seed tea).
Your Long Jing tea blew me away. I'd never tasted such fresh, full-bodied and flavoursome tea before. It was exhilarating. The lower grades A and B have thick peachy aromas, and the AAA and Jipin grades were more delicate and I could get 3+ infusions out of them - each time some other facet of the tea was revealed.
I don't think their caffeine content is high as they made me sleepy and relaxed! The tea is visually beautiful once in water - a deep, grassy green. It is reasonably priced for the quality. I soak the dry leaves in about 20ml of warm water for a few minutes before pouring ~80 degree water in until the cup is full.
I don't strain my tea - I leave the leaves in. Wasn't too bitter for me (I don't mind a bit of bitterness and astringency). I've been telling my family and friends about this tea, and will return to your shop to try other types you have. Cheers, Diana.
By Gene (Albuquerque)
The A grade is definitely a candidate for a repeat purchase, and the AAA grade may be as well. I drink some type of Long Jing almost daily, but this season is first in which I have splurged on the Jipin level of Long Jing. I am still playing with the brewing to determine whether the Jipin is worth the difference in price--especially with the weak dollar.
I have had the same question about all of the other Long Jing in this price range such as Roy Fong's Imperial Long Jing sold by Imperial Tea Court and others I tried this year. They are so much lighter, and the delicate subtleties of these teas require just the right time and place to fully appreciate them.
Here is my full note for your Jipin grade. (I keep notes on all the wines and teas I drink.)
I would say 93 pts would be 5 stars:
Brewed in glass Gaiwan at 170f, cooling to 160f as it brews. The glass brewing vessel is a must, as these little leaves perform a lovely dance. Likewise, this tea is at its bes
By Tom (Schaumburg)
... Dragon Well tea is my favorite, and I began sourcing it from several places to compare. So when your tea arrived I had at least 3-4 others on hand in small amounts. Naturally I brewed your tea the day it came and it was marvelous! It is remarkably fresher than all my other (now year-old) samples.
I was pretty excited about the new 2007 harvest, and my excitement was justified. Before I brew a tea I select 2-3 that I?d like to have and let my wife sniff the dry leaves and have her choose the one to brew. She ALWAYS chooses your tea for me ? and they are all in unlabeled tins, so she chooses it blindly.
My wife doesn't drink caffeinated beverages, but she always takes a sip of my tea and, again, she always smiles broadly and lets out a huge sigh after taking her sip of your tea. Even though she doesn't drink it, your tea is her favorite too! Your tea also doesn't seem to be as heavily cooked (pan-fired) as other Dragon Well tea are, and that makes it fresher, moister an
By Naomi (Charlottesville)
I am very happy with the tea. I started drinking Dragon Well tea in 2004 when a friend introduced me to it. I bought another batch in 2005. Then I ran out, but my friend and I couldn't find a place to buy more. I tried other teas, but nothing compared to Dragon Well tea.
So I went back to drinking coffee, but I really missed the tea. Upon reading your description, I was convinced it was the same tea I had tasted before. The packaging is a little different, but the taste is as I remember it, if not better.
As Danica said, the fragrance lingers sweetly on the taste buds long afterwards. I want to serve some to some friends who have told me they don't like green tea. They make green tea with tea bags from the store. I think this tea will change their minds.
Every morning, I make tea in a 32 oz Nalgene bottle and drink it throughout the day. It is nice to watch the tea buds swirling in the bottle. I can almost see them growing beside the lake, and I think about the peo
By Adrian (San Francisco)
The tea is of excellent quality. It has a fresh taste and rich aroma.
I tasted it with friends who also enjoy Dragonwell. Some preferred this one. others felt it was not subtle enough compared to other harvests and less refined.
I feel this is a matter of taste and all agreed the tea was of very high quality. It is comparable to that which I have received from other companies, though the price is quite a it higher for tea I am able to get of similar quality elsewhere.
Certainly you can publish my feedback. I like your analogy of tea to classical music.
Because of my previous experience with very high grade Dragonwell tea, I started right with this King Grade. It has a vibrant freshness to it which comes through in the cup like the essence of green springtime. It reminds me of the playful musical pieces by Mozart, while other may enjoy the darker moods of Brahms or Beethoven.
The price is high, but if you really like this style then it will be wor
Tea leaves are sealed into their respective packet size of your order with a polyfoil laminate. They are air-tight pouches that can withstand international delivery.
Largest packet size is 50 grams. You open the packet one at a time according to your pace.
Maturation and Aging
We only sell the latest spring crop harvested in the previous March to April.
It takes up to 3 months for the tea to mature and the flavors to fully emerge.
How to Brew
Brewing quality Chinese green tea is the opposite of brewing a Japanese green tea.You should infuse a small amount of leaves in high temperature water for as long as it takes.
A good starting point is to use 2 grams of tea leaves with 8 ounces (225 milliliters) of water.
(For Dragon Well tea, 1 gram correspond to roughly 60 tea buds. See the picture on the right.)
Pour hot water of 195 Fahrenheit (90 degree Celsius). Steep until most of the tea buds has sink to the bottom of the glass and the tea liquor turns yellow. This will take 5 to 10 minutes for the first infusion.
Decant and leave one-third to use as the seed for the next infusion.
Infuse for another 2 to 4 times with progressively shorter steeping time.
(For Dragon Well tea, I also like to steep with the tiniest concentration at 1 gram per 8 ounce water.)
Glass is highly recommended for a number of reasons:
It disperses heat quickly and prevents over-steeping.
It allows you to admire the tea buds. Quality of tea is related directly to the beauty of the buds.
It tells you the tea is ready to drink when the tea buds have settled to the bottom.
You can decant the liquor to a white ceramic bowl such as a gaiwan to drink.
If you are feeling adventurous during the summer, check out this sun brewing tip from James, who lives in Georgetown:
I bought a sun tea jar to make my tea. So far, so good!
I measure the amount of tea and water according to your recommendation and place the covered glass jar in direct sunlight for at least 8 hours.
The astringent elements of the green tea become very soothing when blended with ice, fresh lemon, and fresh navel oranges from California.
It is also very good sun brewed with whole clove and cranberries, or any of the above combinations. I enjoy sun brewing while the summer heat is here.
How To Store
The higher the tea quality, the more easily it loses its flavor. Put some effort and it should keep fresh for a year.
If the tea is sealed, keep in a freezer. Cover with a box to insulate from temperature change. Leave to warm to room temperature before opening. This prevents condensation.
Once the package has been opened, store away from light, moisture, smell and heat in an airtight container.
Green Tea Storage - Guarding Against The Five Thieves
Also In This Section...
Longjing Tea - How I Discover Chairman Mao's Cup Of Tea
My friend HQ, whose family owns 3 tribute tea gardens in the Lion Peak Mountain, opened my eyes to this amazing tea.
These Dragon Well Tea reviews have been collected from customers emails and published with their permissions.
Why a Chinese man pays 14,000 dollars for just 200 grams of Dragon Well green tea.
Xihu Longjing Tea - An Insider's Guide
Xihu Longjing tea (West Lake Dragon Well tea) is often considered as the No 1 of 700 Famous Chinese Teas. Do you wonder why?
My review of the 2007 Xihu Longjing tea: a Lion Peak (Shifeng) variety from Weng Village of West Lake, Hangzhou.
Danica's review of the AAA grade Tribute Dragon Well tea with practical tips to make your tea tastes better. Contributed by Danica Radovanov from Los Angeles.
Long Jing Tea Varieties - A Prince Among Clones
Long Jing tea popularity means that it is now cultivated throughout China. There are a lot of varieties – making it the most complex Chinese green tea to unravel.
Buying Long Jing tea is a tricky affair. Here we discuss the grading system and falsification