Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The thousand year old well

Dragon Well

In HangZhou is the green tea region known as LongJing, or Dragon Well. This area produces some of the finest green tea of China - when the harvest begins, the highest grade teas can reach hundreds of dollars an ounce. I had been here once before, many years ago. I made the pilgrimage once again, to experience the LongJing tea at its finest - at the first harvest in the beginning of April, when the tea leaves are most tender and are of the highest quality.

The entrance to LongJing is marked by this well, the eponymous Dragon Well. This well is purported to be a thousand years old, and is covered with carved inscriptions. The centre, large inscription reads 'Old Dragon Well'. There is a story of the QianLong Emperor drawing water from this well. A tradition for visitors is to draw water, to wash. To experience LongJing, the mind and soul has to be cleansed, and the spirit of the well stays with the one who draws the water. It's a deep well - 30 metres down at least, and the water is remarkably cold. After washing, we went to the home of the old lady, to taste her tea.


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