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Ranking the first among the ten famous teas in China, Dragon Well tea is well-known for its green, fragrance, sweetness and pretty shape. As Lu Yu, a tea expert of the Tang dynasty (about 1,000 years ago) had mentioned the Dragon Well tea in his famous book “On Tea”, the tea must have enjoyed a history of more than 1200 years. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty once named the 18 tea trees growing at the foot of Lion Peak Hill as “royal tea”, where Su Dongpo, a famous poet of the Song dynasty, wrote three Chinese characters meaning Old Dragon Well.
The late Chairman Mao Zedong was very fond of Dragon Well tea. During his two visits to Liu’s Villa by the West Lake in early 1960s, he picked Dragon Well tea with his own hands, which was roasted and infused with water from Running Tiger Spring. Mao loved the taste so much that he said: “Nothing could be compared with Dragon Well tea infused with water from Running Tiger Spring”. The Dragon Well tea tree from which Mao had picked tea was transplanted into the company’s courtyard in commemoration of Chairman Mao.
The late Premier Zhou was concerned about the production of Dragon Well tea very much. He had been to the home of Dragon Well tea for five times. Other late Party and State leaders like Deng Xiaoping, Zhu De, Chen Yun, Chen Yi, Ye Jianying were all very fond of Dragon Well tea and had visited the place for many times.
The Dragon Well tea also enjoys a good reputation abroad. The former CPC Secretary-General Jiang Zemin once invited Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom to taste the Dragon Well tea. Among the VIPs who have tasted the tea, there were Nixon and Kissinger. The tea also serves as a gift tea for visiting heads of foreign states.
The Best Dragon Well tea grows on the hills west to the West Lake in Mei Jia Wu Village. The place has all that are essential to the growing of quality tea-fertile soil, moderate climate, plentiful rainfall, mist and cloud that enclose the hills all the year round. Extra care in breeding and picking and unique traditional hand roast method also contribute to the superior quality of the tea. Every 500g special grade Dragon Well tea need about 26,000 pieces of tender shoot handpicked before April 5 which are then roasted by hand with extra care for about 10 hours. The Dragon Well tea is flat-shaped, stiff, of even size and smooth. The tea comes out in lobes when infused in a glass with clear water. The bright green of the tea infusion, the long-lasting fragrance, the refreshing and sweet taste bring real enjoyment to the drinker.
Popular among the consumers, the Dragon Well tea has won honors at provincial and national competitions for consecutive years. The tea was awarded the prize of “China Famous Cultural Tea” at the International Tea Culture Festival held in Hangzhou, China in 1991, and the “Tianma” gold medal for national tourists goods in 1992. In 1993 the tea was listed among the “Famous Brand Products” with recommendation by China Standards Information Center, Hong Kong Xinhua News Agency and two other institutions. It was appraised as Famous Brand Product in food industry in China in 1994. It was named “Famous Farm Products” by the Government of Zhejiang Province and won a gold medal for farm and sideline products of Zhejiang province in 1998.
The “well” is an actual spring-fed well (a circular stone enclosure where the water is gathered) with a temple and a teahouse nearby—not far from Hangzhou. Legend has it that during a severe drought a resident monk summoned up a lucky dragon he’d heard was in the neighborhood. He prayed, and lo, the rains came, the crops were saved, and the peasants rejoiced.Dragon Well is a circular pond 2 meters in diameter, the spring water drains down to a brook along the Yingma bridge, Huangni Hill and finally winds it way into West Lake through Mao Jia Bu. The water of dragon well is sweet and nice. What is more interesting to see is a “dividing line” on the surface of the well water when it is stirred, a line that, like a hair spring and disappears slowly.
Dragon well tea is renowned as “green in hue, strong fragrance, mellow taste and pretty appearance”. It is soft but far, fragrant but fresh, having a distinctive style. The Dragon Well has four distinct characteristics: 1. flat leaves, 2. jade green color, 3. soft and mellow flavor, 4. sweet, fresh aroma. The mellow flavor of the Dragon Well keeps it from turning bitter like black tea even if it is over-steeped. The Chinese believes Dragon Well has a cooling effect so it is even more popular during the spring and summer seasons.
Compared to other green tea varieties, Dragon Well is more full-bodied and complex than most. However, in keeping with the character of green tea, it is still mild compared with black teas and oolong teas.
Dragon Well and other green tea are produced in such a way that it contains the highest content of antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants are proven to help in the fight against certain cancers, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, reduce the likely-hood of getting the flu and other infections, and help reduce the signs of aging. There is also enough fluoride found in green tea to aid against plaque and other oral bacteria. With Dragon Well’s mellow sweet taste and long list of health benefits, it is no wonder that the Chinese has been drinking this tea for centuries. The next time you are looking for a refreshing cup of tea, we welcome you to try the wonderful Dragon Well.
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