This year we have sourced a Long Jing tea for the real aficionados. Our 2019 Long Jing is from the original Qun Ti Zhong cultivar picked on the 23rd March. This is the old-school variety of Dragonwell and is lower yield and later growing which means that producers are growing less and less and replacing these original bushes with other cultivars. This is a shame because the Qun Ti Zhong Long Jing has such a rich and authentic warming taste that is a joy to experience.
This is China's most famous Green tea. While trends are moving towards 'fresher' tasting Long Jing, the teaheads out there know that the trademark 'roasted bean' flavour is a necessary component of any quality Long Jing. This tea has that toasty depth which shifts in the mouth towards bright, lemon sweetness.
Authentic Long Jing tea (otherwise known as Dragonwell) must be grown in Zhejiang province. If it is grown anywhere else then it is considered a fake (much like champagne). Every year we taste many samples of Long Jing to find our batch for the year. For the past couple of years, we have selected a tea from outside the West Lake area because we feel that it has a much higher quality compared with the West Lake tea.
Qing Ming is a traditional day for paying respects to ancestors and clearing their graves. It is a public holiday in China (and Taiwan) and falls on the first day of the fifth solar term which equates to fifteen days after the Spring Equinox which is usually the first week of April. Any tea picked before this date is very early Spring picked and is called Pre Qing Ming.
This is a Pre Qing Ming tea picked on the 23rd th March giving a lightness and delicacy combined with a powerful fragrance and taste. Any Pre Qing Ming tea from Xi Hu (West Lake) is exorbitantly expensive and whilst it is often excellent tea, we felt that this batch won out in terms of flavour and we are not paying the extra price tag for the name of Xi Hu.
Please note that you may find white yellow fur on the tea and little balls of fur in the tea. This is NOT mold but is tea fur showing that the tea is a very early spring tea - it demonstrates the quality of this Long Jing.
Watch as Celine and I try to pick out our 2016 Imperial Green from others. We thought that she got it wrong but an eagle eyed YouTube viewer pointed out that actually she got it right (follow the cups).