I’m really surprised there wasn’t a Long Jing entry for Imperial Tea Court on Steepster. Every year ITC features around five different incarnations of Long Jing plus LJ style tea from elsewhere sometimes from the same cultivars and they are frequently the first to bring fresh examples of this tea into California after the early harvest. Definitely doesn’t mean it’s the best, but they have good, fresh offerings for Long Jing lovers… I suppose the price tag some of them carry is enough to keep people off buying much of ‘em. This year’s early harvest produced a very small quantity and not really as good of quality as the prices would suggest (way better than last year, I feel, but nothing compared to a couple years ago). ITC featured two early harvest Long Jings this spring – the Imperial and Lotus Heart. The latter was only sold online for a brief period and wasn’t available at their physical locations unless you were part of a pre-order. I bought this alongside all the Ming Qian Long Jings offered by Red Blossom as well so it was better for my bank account that it wasn’t available anyway.
Last night I did a tasting for a few friends centered wholly upon this group of teas. Six fresh examples, six from last year stored well (eh, maybe not so well in the case of the stuff I got from Vital Leaf, which had some funky aromatics going on when I picked it up from them), three from two years ago that I’d intentionally exposed to poor conditions, and then this one featured in the fresh lineup as well as brewed five other ways side-by-side.
I prepared this as the representative of one of the more traditional versions in the tasting, so it got the special spectrum treatment even though it wasn’t the favorite of the night nor the one I had very much of.
Here’s the parameter run-down:
1) 3g/100mL for 2min in 80C
2) 1.5g/100mL for 3min in 70C
3) 1.5g/100mL for 4min in 70C
4) 1.5g/100mL for 1min in 85C
5) 1.5g/100mL for 2min in 85C
6) 0.44g/235mL for 7min in 65C
The favored order between the four of us tasting all wound up being the same or just off by one. 2-1-4-6-3-5, though #1 was most distinct in separable distinctive pleasant character and #6 drew the most surprise and acclaim.
Across the board, this had a moderate body and long-lasting crisp and sweet aftertaste with a base flavor similar to stir-fried snow peas. The really dilute preparation had a faint level of intensity but blew everything else away in terms of sweetness, which was really deceptive when the color of the water really hadn’t changed at all. The highest concentration was my personal favorite due to range of character exhibiting many floral hints and varied nut flavors/aromas but #6 is the one I wound up downing the whole remainder of the cup once everyone was done tasting.
This year’s slightly later spring harvest Long Jings are tasting a tad better to me then the Ming Qian counterparts, but they are still pretty darned good and this one, in particular, is highly versatile though light overall.