Best of the Best: Longjing Tea
Longjing Tea, literally translated as Dragon Well Tea, is one of the most famous Chinese traditional tea and also one of the top ten teas in China. It has a history more than 1,200 year and is favored because of its green color, unique fragrance, sweet taste, and beautiful appearance. For those who try it, there's really no going back.
Green and healthy Longjing tea
Dragon Well tea is classified as a green tea and contains vitamin C, amino acids (for the production of protein, neurotransmitter transport and bio-synthesis), as well as one for the highest concentrations of Catechin which is a plant compound reputed for health benefits associated with drinking tea.
The best Dragon Well tea comes from the area located in Longjing village, in the West Lake district, in the southwestern region of Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province. In this location is the famous Dragon Well, an actual well which exhibits twisty currents when falling rain water mixes with the well's natural dense water. The area is a famous tourist spot with plantations and tea houses to enjoy the special tea. Longjing tea grows so ideally here because of the mild climate and plenty of rain.
Preparation of Longjing tea
In terms of preparation, Longjing it can be brewed in porcelain or glass. But it is best made in Yixing clay teapots, which is also called Purple Sand tea pots. This special type of teapot originated in the 15th century and is made from the special clay found in Yixing, which is in the eastern part of Jiangsu province. The temperature of the water should be around 75-80 °C or 167-176 °F and it is said that water from Hupao Spring in Hangzhou, which is also called Running Tiger Spring, is considered the best. It is followed by water from the Leng Spring also in Zhejiang and lastly the Hui Spring in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
Classic of Tea
The infused Longjing tea produces a yellow green color and is characterized by subtle flavors which provides a truly serene experience. The tea is highly praised by the most famous tea sage in China, Lu Yu, who lived from 733 to 804 A.D., in his great work, the The Classic of Tea, the most influential work on cultivating, making and drinking tea.
Picking of Longjing Tea
The timeliness to pick tea leaves has large influence on the quality of the Dragon Well tea. Usually the picking time ranges from spring to the end of summer. Generally it isagreed that there are six grades of Longjing Tea, and the best being the Mingqian variety, which is when the tea leaves are picked before the Chinese Qingming festival before or around April 5 each year.
Longjing Tea Cultural Villages
Longjing tea has many varieties according to different production area and plantation area, including West Lake Longjing, Pre-Qingming Longjing, Shi Feng Longjing, Meijiawu Longjing, Bai Longjing, Qiantang Longjing, Tiger Spring Longjing, and Lion Longjing. Longjing are mainly planted in the mountainous area around the West Lake where has mild climate and plentiful rainfall. The main production areas of Longjing include Shifeng Peak, Longjing Village, and Meijiawu Village. These tea production areas have long history and profound tea cultural background.
The Longjing Village which is located in southwest of the West Lake in Hangzhou is reputed for the place to produce the best Longjing tea. The village is surrounded by mountains in all directions. With high mountains in the north and low valleys in the south, Longjing Village is bestowed with advantageous natural conditions. With its mild climate and plenty rainfall, Longjing Village produces the best Longjing tea among all kind.
Legend has it that Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) of the Qing Dynatsy visited Longjing Village during his tours at Jiangnan and he went to Hugong Temple which is located at the foot of Lion Peak Mountain. There he sipped a cup of Longjing tea and loved it very much. Later he conferred the 18 tea bushes in front of the Hugong Temple as imperial tea.
Longjing Village has a long history in planting Longjing tea and therefore has a profound tea culture. There is about 53 hectares of mountainous tea plantation area in the village. When visiting Longjing Village, tourists can get a deep understanding of Longjing tea and its culture. Also if traveling in the harvest season, tourists have the chance to experience picking tea with local villagers. Meanwhile, there are many other tourist sites in the village. One of the most popular site is the Longjing Imperial Tea Garden.
The best time to visit Longjing Village is from late March to the end of summer when the harvest season of Longjing tea. Tourists can join a tea-picking tour to experience picking tea with local villagers.
Meijiawu Tea Plantation
Meijiawu Tea Plantation is one of the most famous production bases of Longjing tea in Hangzhou, also it is one of the place to produce the best Longjing tea. The Meijiawu Tea Plantation is located in the hinterland of West Lake Scenic Area. It is an ideal place to enjoy the picturesque natural scenery, learn about tea history and culture, appreciate the tea ceremony, and experience the rural life with local tea villagers.
Meijiawu Tea Plantation used to be an ancient village with a history of 600 years. Being the largest production base of Longjing tea, Meijiawu covers an area of 800,000 square meters. There are 160 teahouses in the village where tourists can learn about history and culture of Longjing tea, the process of making tea and functions of tea. What attract tourists most is the tea ceremonies. Meijiawu Tea Village has been reputed for its traditional tea ceremony. Their exquisite ceremony to serve tea is kind of performance art and is a highlight during the tour. If travel to Meijiawu during the four times for picking tea leaves, tourists can experience picking tea leaves and local rural life.
For tourists visiting Meijiawu Tea Plantation would not want to miss out the delicious tea dishes there which are featured with flavors of light, fresh, smooth, and slightly salty. Popular dishes including Longjing Tea with Shrimp, Longjing Fish, Tea soup, Carp Soup with fresh tea water, tea water with crisp shell chicken, tea water with duck stew.
China National Tea Museum
China National Tea Museum is China’s only tea themed museum which is dedicated to the history, culture, art, cultivation and tasting of tea. It is a popular tourist attraction in Hangzhou.
China National Tea Museum is located in Longjing Village, in west of the world- famous West Lake.Covering an area of 22,000 square meters, the museum was opened in 1991. For tourists interested in tea and want to learn more about tea and its culture, China National Tea Museum is a great place to visit.
Surrounded by tea plantations, the museum has pleasant scenery and serene environment. There are no exterior walls in the museum. It’s like a beautiful garden with streams, bridges and artificial hills.
The China National Tea Museum is consisted of many buildings. There are exhibition building, building to welcome guests and for academic communication, etc. The exhibition building is a main area for tourists to visit. This building is divided into 6 halls, including the Hall of Tea History, the Kaleidoscope Hall, the Hall of Tea Properties, the Tea-friendship Hall, the Tea Sets Hall, and the Tea Customs Hall.
These 6 halls emphasizes on 6 different aspects of tea. Tourists will get knowledge about the history of development of tea production and tea culture, while the Kaleidoscope Hall focuses on introduction of six types of famous tea. Processing techniques of tea production and tea production machines are the main subject in the Hall of Tea Properties. For tourists interested in antique tea utensils, the Tea-friendship Hall is a best place to see. But the Tea Customs Hall is the most popular one as tourists can learn the impact of tea on daily life. Also there are tea houses in China National Tea Museum where tourists can taste great tea and enjoy some relaxed time.
9:00AM - 17:00PM (May.1 – Oct. 7)
8:30AM – 16:30pm (Oct.9 – Apr. 30 in the next year)
Bus: Bus 27 or Y3 (Tourism Bus Line 3) and get off at Shuangfeng Station