Wednesday, March 12, 2008

2007 Pre-Qingming West Lake Dragon Well (Long Jin)

This tea is a legend in green tea.

Heavy water pools in a nearby well. When it rains the heavy waters of this well visibly twist, tangle, couture, and snake about as the fresh water is forced into the well. To the townspeople this sight resembles the movement of a mythical dragon. This well, the dragon well, spills forth irrigating the nearby tea field that surrounds parts of the poetic 'West Lake' in Hangzhou, China. The leaves on these bushes are all picked by hand when they are just small shoots (see Video). They are then hand processed using soft hand motions that give them their characteristically flat look.

Nowadays, there is much more than just Long Jin's mild sweet taste that is talked about...

The quality of the leaf and the abundance of fakes are much talked about issues when it comes to this tea. There is at least as many stories about fakes, or mixed grades as there is about the wonderful taste of an authentic cup of this tea. If you wish to avoid buying fakes just go to a reputable store and make sure that the box of tea you buy has more security features as you can possibly imagine. Included on this box is an individualized code that you can check on the government website, quality seals, a scratch code, as well as all the production information. The most important thing you can check is the characteristics of the leaf itself- high quality Long Jin is a pale green and the leaves are small. These qualities can be seen in this box coupled with the scent of sweet light brush.

The liquor too is pale. There is almost a complete lack of astringency at first as the sweetness of this tea is felt on the tip of the tongue giving it a slippery-smooth mouthfeel. Astringency is an after effect that is slight but coats the full tongue seconds after one swallows. This tea reminds one of eating a good high-mountain banana, not because it tastes like it (or maybe it does), but because more of its feeling in the mouth.

It abstains from the categories 'vegital' and 'grassy' that epitomize the green tea type. An individual tea- smooth, creamy, sweet. This leaf shows off its excellent stamina as liquor color, smell, and taste remain stable (maybe improve) through multiple infusions. A certain, almost unnoticeable, cinnamony sass is given off as this tea enters its 5th or 6th infusion.

There is a reason this tea has such a long reputation of being the best in the world.



Brandon said...

Where did you get those wonderful tasting cups?

Matt said...

These natural beauties are made the traditional Korean way by the loving hands of Kim Kyoung Soo. Kim Kyoung Soo is an extreamly popular artist in the South of the peninsula. I will cover his work extensively in the weeks and months to come.


Anonymous said...

Any ideas as to where to order good quality Dragon Well at a decent price? Same question for decent Korean green tea.

Brandon said...

How about where to buy beautiful Korean teaware :)

You are teasing us with your photos.

Matt said...

I am unable to recommend a dealer for a good Dragon Well as this tea isn't so common here.

I usually consume more abscure handmade greens that go through a much smaller production and usually never leave Korea.

In the weeks and months to come, I hope to spend some time with teas that come from the major commercial companies that sell their tea internationally.

I can't personally recommend a tea that I haven't spent some good quality time with.

As for the teaware...