After over a full month since the spring equinox, many of the fresh Chinese teas from the spring 2018 harvest are available in the U.S. I am always excited during this time of year because I have the chance to try one of my favorite spring green teas: Dragon well. Dragon well tea (龙井茶 long jing cha in Mandarin) is a famous green tea produced in Zhejiang province’s Hangzhou city. Like most Chinese green teas it is pan fired quickly after picking in order to minimize its oxidation. During this pan firing the leaves are shaped in a unique way that leaves them flat rather than round or twisted.
Brewing Parameters and Tasting Notes
In order to brew this tea I used water which I estimate to be around 80 – 90 °C. After reaching a light rolling boil I pour the water into a glass pitcher and let it rest for about 30 seconds – 1 minute. The pitcher is hot to the touch, but not scalding. For this session I measured out approximately 3 grams of tea leaves using an electronic scale. My lidded bowl for brewing held approximately 180 ml of water.
Aroma of the Dry Leaves – When warmed in the pre-heated lidded bowl the dry tea leaves had a very vegetal, nutty, and sweet aroma. The sweetness reminded me of cane sugar.
1st Infusion (1 minute) – The first infusion was very light with a buttery texture. The flavor reminded me of green vegetables and also had a nutty component. This infusion also had the sugary sweetness that was in the aroma. The aroma was pleasant and lingered in the palate.
2nd Infusion (2 minutes) – The tea opened up in the second infusion and had a fuller mouthfeel. This infusion was vegetal, but was more savory and broth like than the sweet and sugary first infusion. I probably could have strained this infusion about half a minute earlier, because there was a slight astringency present.
3rd Infusion (3 minutes) – The flavor and texture of the third Infusion was like that of the second, except the light astringency was no longer present. By the third infusion the fresh sweetness of the first infusion had gone.
I think that flavor and aroma of long jing tea are very enjoyable, but they are also transient. I find that I usually enjoy the first two or three infusions the most. In later infusions the tea is still enjoyable, but lacks that fresh sparkle. For this reason I usually brew the tea for a maximum of four or five runs.
I may experiment with brewing this tea using more “gong fu” parameters, in order to see how a heavier proportion of tea leaves holds up to many infusions.