Last Updated on 11/04/2020 by Desmond
Longjing tea is a kind of green tea origin from Zhejiang Province, China, and it is regarded as the top of the Chinese tea. The most famous in it is West Lake Longjing, especially the products from those 18 oldest tea plants, which were as precious as the authentic Da Hong Pao tea.
What Is Longjing Tea
Longjing tea also called Dragon Well tea. There are lots of legends about the name. One popular saying is, long ago, a god dropped his teacup when passing through Hangzhou. After he found it on the ground, it had transformed into a stone well, and he could not take it away.
This stone well, which transformed from the artifact, attracted the dragons around come and drink. By the time lapses, this area is full of reiki, so people called it “dragon well.” There were 18 tea plants around, grew under the reiki moisten, produce high-quality tea. People called these teas “Longjing tea” and the village built after there “Longjing village.”
The Longjing village is located in the West Lake District, so the most authentic Longjing tea usually means West Lake Longjing.
Even though it just a legend, but the Hangzhou west lake scenery is beautiful indeed. A Chinese saying “the above is paradise and below is Hangzhou” to describe it. In ancient China, the poets love to write poems at the side of West Lake while drinking Longjing tea.
Longjing tea has been consumed by people for a long time, but in the beginning, it wasn’t famous. When Qing dynasty(1636-1912), the Qianlong emperor traveled to Hangzhou, fall in love with Longjing tea, and granted those 18 tea plants as “imperatorial tea trees.” Since then, Longjing tea became popular, and till to the Republican(1912-1949), Longjing tea was granted as “Top of Chinese tea.” Unfortunately, the tea production from those 18 oldest plants was not sold anymore.
Hangzhou is the origin of Longjing tea, also the largest producing region. The types of Longjing tea depend on different producing areas. There are 3 large regions in Hangzhou – West Lake, QiangTang, Yuezhou, among them, the West Lake region is the top. In 2008, the Chinese government introduced rules that only the tea produced from West Lake can name West Lake Longjing, for avoiding the consumers make confusion.
In the West Lake producing area, there are 5 core regions – Shifeng, Longjing, Yunqi, Hupao, Meijiawu. Most of the Longjing tea products sold on the market are taken these 5 regions as the brand. Each got their unique environment and producing skills, and the Longjing tea they made got their own flavor.
- Shifeng(Lion Mountain.) The Shifeng region included Lion Mountain, Longjing Village, and Checkerboard Mountain. The earth here is soft and fertile, lush vegetation, and mist enveloped, what an awesome place for the Longjing tea plant growing. And it’s the birthplace of the Longjing tea, the products’ quality is recognized as the best among 5 regions.
- Longjing(Dragon Well.) Even though the Longjing region got the same name as the tea, but it’s not the birthplace. However, the environment here is similar to the Shifeng, so the Longjing tea produced here is also in high grade.
- Yunqi(Cloud.) The Yunqi region is on the far south, where the earth is fertile and full of bamboo, with a just-right temperature and humidity. The Longjing tea produced here got fat buds and leaves, rich in nutrition and microelement, and unique flavor.
- Hupao(Running Tiger.) The Hupao region is famous for its natural spring water. There is a saying, “Brew the Longjing tea with Hupao water.” The spring water here is rich in Ka, Zn, and Mg, not only good for the tea plants growing but also favorited by the tea lovers. Brewing tea with the water here can get more fragrance and better flavor.
- Meijiawu(Dock of May Family.) Meijiawu used to belong to the Yunqi region, but due to the growing production, it independent. The yield of Meijiawu is about 1/3 of the 5 core producing regions, and it is also a tourist area about the Longjing tea culture.
Except for the origin, the tea harvest time is also important, even it is regarded as the foremost factor of the Longjing quality.
Thanks to the West Lake producing region’s excellent environment, the tea plants can grow the tender buds all year round. The Longjing picking period is up to 190-200 days, over 40 batches a year, almost the most picked in all types of teas. The tea leaves are classified into spring tea, summer tea, and autumn tea according to the harvest seasons.
The spring tea is much better than summer tea and autumn tea. The harvest time typically begins in late March and must be finished before summer comes. There are also two varieties of the spring Longjing tea – Mingqian Longjing and Yuqian Longjing.
- Mingqian Longjing means the tea picked several days before Qingming(a Chinese solar term, typically 4th April), and it’s the highest class. The sun is shining and the rains a lot, with a cool temperature during this period, and the tender buds just grow, with the highest quality. After then, due to climate change, the quality and flavor of tea are getting worst relatively.
- Yuqian Longjing means the tea picked after Qingming and before Guyu(a Chinese solar term, typically 19th April.) Although the quality of this batch is not as high as Mingqian Longjing, it is still very excellent.
And the summer Longjing usually picked after Lixia(a Chinese solar term, typically 5th May,) and finished before the middle of June. And the autumn Longjing tea is harvested from late June to early October.
As the top of the Chinese tea, Longjing tea has a simple but exquisite processing method. It does not need to be fermentation and cost a short time. But every step in processing should be manual by the skilled masters.
The first is picking. Even though nowadays the machine can instead of human work, but in the Hangzhou Longjing producing region, people insist on choosing the tea leaves by hand.
Because the buds and leaves to make Longjing tea must be the most tender, they easily break by the machine, or hurt the old leaves and affect the next harvest.
Besides, every harvest in different seasons, there is different demand for the size of the buds and leaves; a machine is hard to do this job.
Tea leaves after picking will place for a while, let the wind blew the plant-smell away, evaporate some of the water, and make less bitter taste. The placing time is short, and the leaves need to be fixed before they are beginning ferment.
Fixation means stopping the leaves from fermentation, retaining their green color, and most of the natural nutrition facts. The fixation of Longjing tea is complicated. It is said the tea master needs to use over 10 methods to fry the tea leaves and keep switching according to the state of them.
After fixation, place the tea leaves a while for cooling down, then put them into the pot and frying again, for shaping. The tea masters push and rub them over and over to make the surface smooth, and the body becomes flat. Then the tea master would screen the leaves, take the broken, yellow, and different size ones away, to make them got the same size, color, and quality.
The Longjing tea products just made have a strong moisture absorption, so they need to be a special drying processing. Tea masters put them into a jar, with a layer of lime in the bottom, then seal it and place for about a week, avoid them from going bad by absorbing the water in the air.
What Is Longjing Tea Good For
Longjing tea belongs to the non-fermented green tea, so it contains many natural ingredients inside, and most of these ingredients can dissolve into water. Having the Longjing tea, you may get the benefits below:
The Longjing tea is made from the Camellia Sinensis. It contains caffeine, which can stimulate your nerves and wake you up. But, the Longjing leaves are complete, and the brewing water temperature is typically low, so the caffeine dissolves out less than other types of teas, such as Ceylon black tea.
However, the proper amount of caffeine, plus the unique herbaceous fragrance of Longjing, will only reach the effect of relaxing tired, but not make you high or insomnia. This refreshing feeling is like a spring wind blow through your mind.
Related Reading: Which Type of Tea Contains Most Caffeine.
The weight loss effect of green tea is well-known. Longjing tea is made from the most tender buds and leaves, which contains a large amount of tea polyphenol and caffeine. Caffeine can boost fat burning, provide the energy exercise needs. And the tea polyphenol can improve fat metabolism and reduce the accumulation.
Besides, under the synergistic effect of them, the digestive system will also be improved, and decrease the absorption of carbohydrates. Drinking Longjing tea for the long term is great to help with the obesity curing and weight loss plan.
Tea polyphenol is a powerful natural antioxidant. Researchers suggested that it takes an excellent effect on removing the free radicals in the body; the over radicals are the main reason for aging and most diseases.
The most obvious benefit of having Longjing green tea is the wrinkle will not appear on your face early, and your skin may get smooth(tea polyphenol also has an anti-inflammation effect, which reduces the risk of acne.) Besides, the tea polyphenol also helps delay the blood vessel from aging, reduces the risk of getting heart diseases.
Potential Anti-cancer Effect
Having Longjing tea for an extended-term does not mean that you will never get cancer; it is still a complicated question. But lots of researches about tea polyphenol show the multiple benefits of it can help reduce the risk of cancer, even shows a potential hope on some cancer treating.
Related Reading: What Is Tea Polyphenol Good For?
How To Choose High-Quality Longjing Tea
If you are going to buy the Longjing teas online, you should look at the product details, the origin, and the picked time. All of them are the decisive factors of the Longjing grade. Of course, that didn’t mean the relative-low grade products are not recommending to buy; their unique flavor still worth having a try.
And when you are going to buy the Longjing loose tea from a tea store, here are some tips that may help you to judge the quality:
- Observe. Observe is the most intuitive way to judge the tea leaves’ quality. Take a look at their shape, size, and color. The high-quality Longjing have fresh-green and complete bodies, and the size of each leaf almost the same.
- Touch. Touch the tea leaves and feel how dry they are. Once the dried leaves absorbed the water in the air, then the flavor will make a big discount, even go bad and harm your health. Pinch the leaf, the dried enough ones will break into powder, and the wet ones will into granule.
- Smell. Open the tea storage container to see whether it got a smoke, sour, or spoiled smell spent out. The high-quality Longjing tea typically with a pleasant fragrance, delicate but not strong.
- Taste. Usually, the tea store will offer a try-drinking for free. It’s the best way for you to pick Longjing tea that suitable for your taste. The high-grade one not always the suitable one. And you can learn the brewing skill from the shopkeeper at the same time.
How To Make Longjing Tea
Longjing tea has only been a very low-degree processed, so the simplest brewing way is the best choice:
- Prepare the teaware. I recommend using the porcelain teaware but not the pottery ones. Because green tea should avoid being excessive heating(learn what’s different between pottery and porcelain teaware.) And a porcelain Gaiwan may be an awesome choice, or you can use a glass cup directly but need to finish drinking quickly.
- After washing and preheating the Gaiwan, add 1/3 85℃ hot water, put the Longjing loose leaves in, and then go on adding hot water.
- Cover the Gaiwan, pour out the infusion. Green tea does not need extra steeping time. Then serving.
- This brewing tea way is fit for most green tea. Because green tea is tender, add hot water in two batches, can soften the leaves adequately, extract the ingredients, and avoid excessive heating, which makes it lose its flavor and nutrition.
- Longjing tea is not like dark tea, it can not be brewed for multiple rounds. Typically, it will lose its flavor at all at the third brewing.