How to select a Long Jing (Dragonwell) product of your taste
Thanks you guys for the comments and feedbacks! In my eyes, Long Jing is one of the many “black holes” in tea. It’s so intriguing and has so much unknown territory. I hope we can understand more of it through discussions, or at least make it less overwhelmingly mysterious :D
I’ve really enjoyed reading this and learning more. I’d like to see an oolong one. Specifically, which names go with which places/regions and how the tastes differ based on that, and about the different oxidation levels and different cooking processes and how the tastes differ based on that. I’ve been trying to do some reading on this online but the information isn’t always very clear and I’m not really sure where to look other than googling around. I am finding the google mapping the different growing regions and zooming out to see where they are in relation to each other helpful.
Thank you! Writting is hard to me and I am still improving my writing skills. I will try to write more, and of course about oolong, my favorite tea category! But also there are some books by fine writers that give very good introduction about tea. For example, The Story of Tea, by Mary Lou Heiss, is a very good one. I don’t agree with some information from the book (which is normal because people have different opinions on many aspects of tea), but overall it’s very well written, informative and interesting. One of my goals is to translate some tea books/articles from Chinese, and I think for this goal I have to learn more about writing.
I think you’re doing a good job writing all this tea information in English. I can always tell what you mean and only occasionally is the grammar or word choice odd. Thanks for the recommendation of the tea book. I will check my library system for it when I’m done reading For All the Tea in China.
Gingko, thanks so much for all this information, I fully appreciate all the time it takes to write it, and your expertise on the subject is evident! Do you ship overseas?
My knowledge is far from expertise. I would like to be an active learner :D
Are you in Singapore? We do ship overseas. Since you are in Asia, probably you can find better deals there. But you are surely welcome if you would like to try our teas, and we ship globally.
Besides, we also plan to do group purchase in every spring. So far we have done group purchase of Da Fo Long Jing, only in small scale, and special orders of Xi Hu Long Jing by individual request. Depending on what tea you would like and the amount, sometimes it’s a better deal to order directly from us, and sometimes it’s better to have the tea shipped from China. Here is the info. page, for your reference.
re LongJing (again): in the first part of your post you mentiont that most green tea drinkers focus on the early spring of the current year. Yes, I agree, that is correct (at least, it seems to be the case everytime you discuss it with green tea aficionados. The power of group think….). That said, I bought a whole bunch of Ming Qian LJ in 2009, and stored the packs in my wine storage unit. The stock has dwindled, and I’m now drinking my last 50g from 2009, which brings me to this next question:
If properly stored (maybe this subject requires an entirely different post), how long does LJ keep? To be honest, I haven’t tasted much difference over the last 12 months.
Btw, it is interesting to see how the tea market seems to be following the trends of wine tasting or olive oil: the more one gets into it, the more you want to know about origins, cultivar, etc.. Will cultivar trump region in the future (as seems to have happened already in wine), or will the tea producing regions vigorously defend their “terroir” caracteristic, impose “controlled appellations”, etc.. to protect their turf?
I guess whatever happens, we should have a greater incentive to visit the sources directly!
The storage is a very interesting topic! By proper storage (dry, air tight and cooler temperature), some people say a prestigious green tea can be well-maintained for 1-2 years. I’ve had some well-stored Long Jing and other green teas wthin 1-year old, and I think they are fine. But I haven’t stored pre-Qingming LJ for that long. It’s too expensive to experiment on this. I got some 2009 pre-Guyu Long Jing from a new supplier last month, to help me decide whether to order their 2010 pre-Guyu. The tea tastes actually quite fresh. But probably I need to get some of their 2010 pre-Guyu LJ and do a side-by-side tasting.
Theoretically, the earlier the harvest, the harder it is to maintain the fresh and subtle taste.
This just reminds me that I have a box of well-sealed matcha from 2005, which a friend threw away to me. I wonder how it looks now, green or yellow. But I haven’t opened the seal yet, because I haven’t decided what to do with it yet :D
About the cultivars and other tea information, it may be more interesting to some people than to others. But there is information that should come with the tea, especially for a tea like Long Jing which is more expensive than other teas. Generally I feel cultivars have got tricky in recent years, as more regions open to more cultivar options. Cultivar is not an issue for some other teas, but is a big issue for Long Jing. Even in China, not all vendors label their Long Jing with cultivar names. But more and more people start to ask about it.
Greetings. As I write this, I’m tasting for the first time with quite a bit of excitement my 3rd cup of Shi Feng Long Jing, bought yesterday from one of the reputable teahouses in Singapore. Well, it is delicious (!), and the somewhat smaller leaves are interesting to look at, but I have to confess that my palate is not delicate enough to distinguish a big difference from other, less prestigious LJs… Granted, there is a subtle hint of nutty aftertaste in the first sip- but alas, my worn-out taste buds are wondering if that is worth the steep price of Shi Feng… Clearly I need several more years of study, but the experience is very rewarding, just the same! (I’ve tried 3 different steeping times so far, I’ll let you know how it goes by week’s end)
On an unrelated topic, I also just tried some freshly packed WenShan Bao Zhong: absolutely fantastic!!!
Yeah it’s true that Long Jing and some other Chinese green teas are of rather subtle taste, considering they are from the region of China with the most vegetarian and spice-less diet. Maybe next time you can try some pre-Guyu Long Jing, which is harvested later than pre-Qingming and the taste is more prominent. And yeah let us know more about your drinking experience! :D
I took a tour of China last year and am fairly certain that we stopped at the tea plantantion at Westlake. Pictures that I’ve seen of it look familiar. I’m just now opening the second box, and on top it’s labeled HANGZHOUMEIJIA, written as a single word. Interestingly, one box says that, while the other box is labeled in Chinese. The girl stuffed the boxes 100% full, then about another 100%! It’s a talent on its own.
I don’t claim to be a tea connoisseur by any means, and seriously appreciate all of the info on this blog. Honestly, though, I can’t distinguish even the slightest difference between the original box and the one that I opened last week. To the best of my memory, even its physical appearance is 100% the same as the box I opened last summer.
Our presenter was very convincing on several points. One was that the tea she was offering for sale is called “imperial tea” and that her company did not export it. She said that the local demand was too high, which made sense. Second, she said that it was a “two-finger” tea, meaning that you only need the amount that can be pinched with 2 fingers per cup instead of 3 for other varieties.
She went on to say that we could add water to it up to 5 times, rather than the usual 3 for lesser teas. In fact, she claimed that the best flavor and nutrition would come from the 2nd or 3rd brewing. (Not for me, because I tend to eat the tea as I drink it.)
The last point is what I have a lesser memory of, but others have mentioned it here. I could be wrong, but I honestly think she said it could be kept refrigerated for up to 2 or 3 years. I can’t remember whether she said 2 or 3, but it was definitely a claim that bolstered her other claims that it’s simply the best tea out there, in every respect.
There were 18 of us in the group, and I remember there being a lot of oohs and aahs after each comment from her.
To the more important contribution on my part… Four years ago, I had an endoscopy and colonoscopy done in Bangkok, because my insurance would not pay for it in the US as a “diagnostic test”. They actually told me I would be responsible for every penny of the $6,000 cost UNLESS polyps were found. Then, it would have suddenly become a payable medical procedure. Weird, but 100% true. I didn’t want to risk a $6K debt.
I go to Thailand 2 or more times every year anyway, so I sought out the best doctor I could find. He discovered polyps in both my stomach and large intestine. He did a great job of documenting them, with a hi-res video, hi-res photos and a hand-drawn illustration. In other words, the polyps were unquestionably there! Pre-cancerous, but there.
But it turned out that Bumrungrad Hospital’s policy was only to document polyps on the first round, not to remove them. That is confirmed in writing as well. We had actually argued prior to the procedure as to whether I should be pre-medicated because of heart valve problems. The fact that he had argued against it made his argument more logical, since he had absolutely no intention of doing any cutting.
Four years later, in May of this year, I was able to use the above documentation to get the procedures pre-approved by my insurance. I was scared. I figured the polyps had doubled in quanity and size and might even be cancerous by now.
To my incredible surprise, there was no trace of a polyp this time. I went to a good doctor in a good hospital, plus he had documents in his hand as to where he should look. He was stunned, too.
The only magical cure I can even think of is that word “antioxidant”. I’ve been downing cinnamon, wild-caught salmon, blueberries, acai and LJ tea as if nothing else mattered. I have gradually increased my overall diet from roughly o% to perhaps 80% in antioxidants. In fact, the smoothie I just drank, before my LJ tea, was made with 7 different antioxidants.
The proof won’t be in for years as to how effective antioxidants are, but I’m sure willing to accept it as being factual today. It doesn’t even matter to me which of them was responsible, or if it was the combination. I’m hooked! As with LJ tea, most antioxidants are delicious.
If you enjoy both good taste and nutrition at the same time, I strongly urge you to go for high quality foods and supplements, at least to the extent that you can afford them. I have nothing to gain by promoting antioxidants. I’m a pharmacist and didn’t use to believe it myself. I hadn’t drunk more than a dozen cups of tea in 57 years, until a year ago.
What a wonderful and informative post! I’ve yet to find the best way to learn about the next level of detail in teas (specifically green teas) and it’s great to find these little caches of information hiding in the forums :)
can anyone pls make a summary of the info in this thread for a newbie? _
i have tried only 1 dragonwell so far and i did not get much flavor from it…steeped at 170F for a minute (afraid for it to turn bitter since it is a green tea)
Drinking green tea is the most boring thing I do. I pour it into a clear glass mug just to verify the faint green color. To break up the monotony, I steep it 1st, then add lemon, lime, raw honey or Bakto flavors from Amazon.com. So far, my favorite is strawberry. I don’t add anthing for several minutes so as to not cool it down too quickly.
My personal feeling is that you have to experiment to find your favorite overall method. I never stop trying new things, including Emegen-C for the 1st time ever last night. It was OK but nothing to brag about.
My personal situation is that one of the world’s best cardiac surgeons predicted 4+ years ago that I would be lucky to live another ten years, now 5 +/-. I’m determined to prove him wrong, something he would be equally happy about.
So, taste is of little concern to me. I’m committed to drinking it for its potential benefits. If I’m alive and well in 5-10-15 years, i will credit green tea and honestly not care whether it’s true or not.
No sarcasm intended, just simple determination, combined with endless experimentation. Pepsi , well-made alcoholic drinks and even OJ will always taste better.