IMPERIAL DRAGONWELL- Lung Ching
Queen of Green Tea
Country of Origin: China
Region: Zhejiang Province
Grade: Lung Ching Grade 1
Altitude: 2500 ft. above sea level
Manufacture Type: Steamed green tea and a special 10 part handmade process
Cup Characteristics: Full bodied tending astringent (brisk) with a heady bouquet. Full green tea flavor with flowery notes
Infusion: Very bright and green
Ingredients: Luxury green tea
Lung Ching Tea - also known as Dragonwell is produced by hand through a 10-part process. The tea used to produce Dragon Well is grown by the side of West Lake in Zhejiang Province. Dragonwell is distinguished by its beautiful shape, emerald colour, scented smell and tending sweet floral character. In Chinese culture Dragonwell is looked upon as an excellent gift to give to your friends, as once it was a gift to emperors.
In ancient times top Dragonwell tea was the tea of emperors and special dignitaries. The secret was in the plucking! Known as imperial plucking only the bud and the 1st leaf was plucked and this had to occur before the Clear Light Festival, otherwise the tea could not be have the moniker ‘Imperial’. Young virgins, gloved and using gold scissors delicately plucked the stem and placed it into a golden basket. The tea was only plucked once a year during March and early April before the Clear Light Festival, otherwise the tea could not be have the moniker ‘Imperial’. Today the plucking process has changed somewhat (the time of plucking has not changed) but it is fascinating to know the tradition behind this marvelous tea.
As with all great teas there is more than one legend. Another tale has it that in 250 AD a Taoist monk affirmed that there must be a dragon lurking in a certain spring not far from Hangchow. The monk implored the well dragon to come to the rescue of the poor farmers suffering a crippling drought. Instantly the clouds came rushing in from every side and poured forth a timely rain. One account of this, an old temple adjoining the spring is know as Dragon’s Well Monastery, and the tea derives its name from the same legend.
Hot tea brewing method: When preparing by the cup, this tea can be used repeatedly - about 3 times. The secret is to use water that is about 180ºF or 90ºC. Place 1 teaspoon in your cup let the tea steep for about 3 minutes and then begin enjoying a cup of enchantment - do not remove the leaves from the cup. Once the water level is low - add more water, and so on and so on - until the flavor of the tea is exhausted. Look at the pattern of the leaves in the brew, not only do they foretell your fortune but you can see the bud and shoots presenting themselves, looking like they are about to be plucked by young virgins.
Alternatively as with all top quality teas, scoop 2-4 teaspoons of tea into the teapot, pour in boiling water that has been freshly drawn (previously boiled water has lost most of its oxygen and therefore tends to be flat tasting), steep for 2-4 minutes (to taste), stir (virtually all the leaves will sink), pour into your cup but do not add milk or sugar since green tea is enjoyed ‘straight-up’.
Iced tea-brewing method: (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 6 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water.]