The World Is a Tea Party Presents: Your Guide to Some Teas of China – Longjing Green Tea
Longjing Teas (Lungching, Dragonwell, 龙井茶)
One of the best known Chinese green teas among aficionados and newbies alike.
Click on each photo to see details:
Longjing Tea is praised for these qualities:
bright, greenish color
delicate, elegant, and long-lasting fragrance
refreshing, brick, mellow, and sweet taste and aftertaste
“Longjing” means “Dragon Well” and refers to the tea plant, the temple, and the spring near where this tea plant was originally discovered. These are on the shores of West Lake (Xi-hu), at Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province (“Chingkiang”, 浙江省), China. This is still where the best version comes from, superior to other versions now being produced around China.
The tea has been produced for over 1,500 years (about middle-aged in terms of tea drinking in China overall, which goes back about 5,000 years). It was mentioned in Cha-Jing, the first tea book, written by Lu Yu.
Year-round fog in the area where the tea plants grow helps impart a mellow taste due to theanine, an amino acid. The low amount of sunlight keeps the theanine from being converted to polyphenols such as catechins that can cause bitterness. The soil is also good for holding moisture, so the plants get plenty, and has an acidic pH that is good for tea plants. The best cultivar is known simply as No. 43 and produces the right shape and size of leaf bud sets for the best quality Longjing teas.
The Longjing Tea Cultivar No. 43
The best tea cultivar for longjing. The leaf buds sprout earlier (about 7-10 days) than other cultivars and simultaneously and uniformly over the tea plants so they are even in color and size, making a high grade tea with a neat appearance. Harvest is usually pre-Qing Ming (Festival Honoring Ancestors 清明) which is usually on April 4th or 5th.
The dried tea leaf buds are flat, straight, and sleek with sharp-tips and delicate green color with a yellowish edge. They are about 2.5 to 3cm long, showing the high degree of delicacy. The liquid infused from those leaf buds has a long-lasting delicate fragrance with mellow taste.
Bud and leaf of same size, even in form
No long stalks
No bud/leaf in purple color
No bud/leaf damaged by plant disease
Avoid the tiny leaf attached to bud
Producing Longjing Tea
Goal: reduce the greenish aroma & bitterness and increase the relative percentage of amino acid.
In a well-ventilated room tea leaf buds are spread in a layer about 3-5cm high for 6-12 hours.
Reduces moisture to 70%.
Goal: inactivate the oxidative enzyme such as polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and form the preliminary shape of the leaf buds.
Pan is heated to 80°-100°C.
Leaves are added into the pan and stirred around by hand.
Hand movements are carefully learned and carried out.
Leaf buds turn soft after about 3-4 minutes.
Frying continues and pressure is applied to flatten the buds.
12-15 minutes of frying reduces moisture to 20-30%.
Leaf buds are spread out for about 40-60 minutes.
Some moisture is reabsorbed from the air.
Winnowing, Sorting, Sifting
Winnowing: remove broken and light pieces of leaves.
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