My quest for an affordable everyday Dragonwell has landed me here. This is a good value Longjing, though nothing particularly special, that still lends itself to some of the complexity of higher grades I’ve tried. I purchase mine at the Pasadena, CA storefront and the photograph here is a good representation. The tea itself is partially broken, with a few full leaves and a very small amount of white lump. Though not as esthetically pleasing to watch brew as a higher grade full leaf, the resulting liquor is fairly good, though a bit cloudy. I start my day with this Longjing.
I first pour just boiled water directly into my 16 oz glass tumbler, after a few moments I then transfer the water to a 16 oz single wall glass mug. I introduce 3 generous teaspoons of tea to my empty, preheated tumbler, swirling it about the empty, but moist container, enjoying the telltale toasty aroma with hints of cocoa. When my glass mug is hot to the touch I find I’ve reached a good brewing temperature for this tea (about 175-180℉). Introducing a few oz. of water to the tumbler, I then swirl the tea gently, evenly wetting the leaves and enjoy the fragrance again, which introduces a richer nutty, walnut quality. Transferring the remainder of the water to the the tumbler, I allow the tea to steep for about 2 more minutes, or whenever the leaves begin to descend to the bottom of the glass. Mild agitation, literally picking up the tumbler will sometimes coax this process along. I decant the resulting tea into my preheated glass mug, leaving a nice root, enough in the tumbler to keep the leaves covered in water.
The first brew, as I said is cloudy, but has a nice golden color with slight hint of green. The taste profile represents many of the common traits one would expect from Longjing, soft, rich, toasty flavor, with a somewhat viscous mouth feel, but it also presents a nice combination of mild, tingly astringency, with a underlying lingering sweetness that reveals itself.
The second brew, less cloudy, I find the most satisfying. I fill my mug with the previously boiled water (or reboiled, if I’ve waited too long), allowing it to heat the glass a bit. I use this to fill the tumbler. The root has usually sat for a while while I enjoyed the first cup. Therefore I reduce the brewing time to about 1 minute or so, and often give the tumbler a slight twirl to allow the tea leaves to spin a bit and distribute their flavors more evenly. The combination of the cooled root and lightly cooled water yields a good temperature for this second brewing. The initial notes have softened a bit, and much of what I report of the first brewing is present, but with the introduction of some vegetal qualities. The mouth feel becomes lighter, and the tingly astringency and sweetness more pronounced, while not becoming bitter. This results in a pleasant clean aftertaste, leaving your palate energized.
The third, and final brewing for me, I tend to let sit longer, often 3 or more minutes. Again using the same cooling method for the water. I pour off the entire brewed contents to enjoy. Depending on how long I let it go, the final tea can sometimes verge on bitter, but as many of the initial smooth, nutty qualities have wained, I find this compliments the final brew. You are left with a nice, clean, tingly vegetal, somewhat dry liquor, that leaves you wanting more.
For $15/4oz. I’d say that’s a win.