Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Long Jing tea

Dragon Well

The famous LongJing tea of ZheJiang. This is one of the finest green teas of the world, if not the greatest. When we were there, in early April, the first harvest of the year had just been processed. The first harvest is always the most prized, as the buds are most tender - these grades of tea are known as GuoYuQian, or QingMingQian. There is an ancient Chinese festival in the first week of April called QingMing, to honour deceased family. The tea picked in the days before this festival is of the highest grade, superior in fragrance, flavour, and texture. Prices correspond to the quality.

This particular tea here is the family's top grade - she charged 500 USD per kilo. Impressive indeed. As you can see here, she brewed a lot for us. The tea was extraordinary. The tender leaves have these amazing furry fibres attached, which detach and float in the tea. Colour is beautiful, fragrance is so floral and nutty. Absolutely delicious, lots of structure, just perfect in flavour and length.

One more interesting thing about this tea - the proprietor described the process of harvesting, and processing the tea. And I realized that she gave me a lesson in the importance of terroir. In wine, in tea - terroir overrides all. The tea grown high in the mountain is of higher quality because of the cooler temperature. Older tea trees produce more intense flavours. All forms of synthetic chemicals are shunned. Unfortunately, these tea plantations are zealously guarded, understandably. So we were not able to see them for ourselves.

Many thanks to the hospitality shown to us by this family. Truly an extraordinary lesson in tea terroir and all its subtleties and nuances. Will make this pilgrimage again, on my next visit.


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