Longjing Tea is often hailed as one of China's most famous green teas. It has gained its reputation not only due to its unique growing region and production techniques but also because of its refreshing taste and distinctive aroma. In the following sections, we will delve into the characteristics, harvesting, production, and intriguing historical stories surrounding Longjing Tea.
Longjing Tea Has a Long History
Longjing Tea, with a history dating back over 1,200 years, was first documented in the "Tea Classic" written by Lu Yu during the Tang Dynasty. Among the six major categories of loose leaf tea that we are familiar with, green tea was the first to appear, and Longjing Tea can be considered one of the earliest varieties of green tea, boasting an exceptionally long and storied history.
The Four Uniqueness of Longjing Tea
Color - The dry tea leaves are a vibrant, glossy emerald green, and the tea liquor exhibits a brilliant, clear, emerald hue.
Aroma - Longjing Tea is known for its orchid-like, fresh, and enchanting aroma, often referred to as "chestnut aroma."
Taste - It offers a delightful, smooth, and refreshing flavor with a natural sweetness.
Shape - The leaves are flat and smooth, resembling "sparrow's tongue," with sharp tips and a graceful appearance. They are uniformly sized, like the petals of an orchid.
The Art of Harvesting Longjing Tea
Harvesting Longjing Tea leaves is a meticulous process that emphasizes tender and complete leaves. The three key principles for harvesting are "early, tender, and frequent." Traditionally, early harvesting is highly prized in Longjing Tea production, as the saying goes, "Early three days, premium three days, late three days are mere grass." Typically, the best quality Longjing Tea is harvested just before the Qingming Festival, known as "pre-Qingming tea," which is considered the finest within the Longjing Tea category. Tea leaves harvested before Guyu (Grain Rain) are known as "pre-rain tea," and they are also of high quality, with later harvests being slightly less exceptional.
The Production Process of Longjing Tea Is Highly Meticulous.
The making of green tea primarily involves three main steps: Shaqing (killing the green), Rounian (rolling), and drying. These steps are fewer compared to the primary production steps of loose leaf black tea and loose leaf oolong tea. You might wonder how these limited steps can result in such a wide variety of green teas in China. In fact, within the 3 main steps of green tea, only in the drying stage we can find 3 distinct techniques: pan-drying, oven-drying, and sun-drying.
Longjing Tea employs the pan-drying technique for drying, and this step alone is remarkably complex and detailed. The unique pan-frying process of Longjing Tea involves the use of ten major hand movements, such as "grab, shake, lift, stretch, press, push, tuck, flick, grind, and press," leading to a constantly changing and truly impressive operation.
The Unique Climate and Geographic Environment of Longjing Tea Production Region
The Longjing Tea production region is situated beneath the famous scenic spot of Jiuxi Shibajian, amid the mountains to the west of West Lake. To the north, there is the misty Yanxia Sandong, while to the south, the vast waters of the Qiantang River extend. In the central area stands the Lion Peak, with its low-hanging clouds creating a picturesque scene. This region boasts an intricate network of waterways, with meandering streams from multiple mountain valleys that flow into the Qiantang River, appearing and disappearing along their winding paths. The surrounding mountains overlap, covered in dense forests, with the land sloping from north to south. This unique topography serves to both block cold northern winds and capture warm southern currents, resulting in a perpetual shroud of low-temperature mist above the tea-growing area, often described metaphorically as "Nine Streams and Misty Trees."
The favorable geographical environment, suitable soil, and high-quality water sources create truly advantageous natural conditions for tea production. Longjing Tea is renowned as "China's First Tea," and it truly benefits from the nourishing influence of the mountain springs and rain in this region.
The Quality of Premium Longjing Tea
Zhejiang Longjing Tea is divided into six grades, ranging from premium grade to grades one through five. Premium grade Longjing Tea is characterized by its flat, smooth, and straight leaves, a tender, glossy, light green color, a fresh and delicate aroma, a refreshing and mellow taste, and fine and tender leaf bottoms. Approximately, half a kilogram of Longjing Tea can contain as many as 36,000 tea buds.
Savoring Longjing Tea with Glassware
When steeping Longjing Tea, using a transparent glass teacup allows you to witness the mesmerizing dance of tea leaves in the clear water. The choice of teaware, while a matter of personal preference, significantly enhances the visual aspects of the tea experience, where the tea's clarity can calm the heart. When brewing Longjing Tea, you'll notice the upright tea leaves, clear and brilliant tea liquor, and a lingering, enchanting aroma.
Savoring Longjing Tea is a dual enjoyment, both spiritually and in terms of taste. To experience this pleasure, it is crucial to acquire high-quality Longjing Tea. We invite you to try the Green Tea Selections from iTeaworld, among which you will find a high-quality Longjing Tea that you should not miss.
Longjing Tea and the Tale of the Running Tiger Spring
Su Shi (also known as Su Dongpo) in his poem “The Running Tiger Spring” extolled the virtues of the spring waters in Hangzhou, where he praised the clear and refreshing waters of the Running Tiger Spring. The Running Tiger Spring is one of Hangzhou’s famous springs known for its pure and mellow water. Brewing Longjing Tea with water from the Running Tiger Spring results in a tea with a clear and fragrant taste, offering an experience often described as the “Twin Marvels of West Lake.”
Longjing Tea and Emperor Qianlong’s Story
During the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Qianlong embarked on six trips to Jiangnan, with four of those journeys taking him to Longjing.
Qianlong once visited the Longjing Tea gardens, personally picking tea leaves, observing the tea farmers during the drying process, and composing poems. He picked a total of eighteen tea trees, which were carefully nurtured by later generations and came to be known as the "Eighteen Imperial Tea Trees." They were offered as tributes to the imperial court each year. Today, these eighteen Imperial Tea Trees still stand gracefully near the Hugong Temple in the vicinity of Lion Peak. Qianlong also inscribed the "Eight Views of Longjing" at the Longjing Temple, and to this day, one can find numerous inscriptions from him etched into the cliffs, bearing witness to his notable contributions. Additionally, he composed a song dedicated to Longjing Tea.
These are some interesting facts and stories about Longjing Tea. I hope they can help you better appreciate and savor this renowned Chinese green tea. When enjoying Longjing Tea, I hope you not only relish its unique and delightful aroma and flavor but also savor the essence of the picturesque landscapes of Jiangnan, embracing the tranquility and beauty of the present moment.