Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, flattened
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gong dao bei
Liquor: pale greenish gold
Dragonwell is one of those teas that I have a real soft spot for. It was one of the first teas that I really fell for at the beginning of my journey. Thanks to this blog I'm also a bit spoiled as I've been lucky enough to receive samples of some of the highest quality Long Jing available. The taste can be quite delicate but a really good one is unlike anything else that I've experienced. I am partial to Shi Feng but that stuff is VERY expensive so I'm not above drinking dragonwell from other areas most of the time. This particular selection is from Long Wu, a region of Hangzhou that I have heard of before but have not seen very often.
When I am reviewing a tea I start evaluating as soon as I open the package. The leaves of this tea were not the nicest looking long jing that I have seen. For a pre-Qingming, they were darker green in color and a bit haphazardly shaped. I did spot any white fuzz balls in the bag or among the leaves. While this not always an indicator of quality, there will generally be more trichomes present in a good quality green tea. Higher grade versions of this tea consist entirely of straight, blade-like buds. Such teas come with a hefty premium and it is important to remember that appearance isn't everything.
I really prefer brewing green teas in a gong dao bei rather than a gaiwan sometimes. The volume is about the same as my glass gaiwan but there's no fussing over a lid or worrying about accidentally steaming the leaves. I was glad that I did that with this one because the leaves were quite pretty to look at. Once fully unfurled, they much more closely resembled what I had been expecting but with a slightly higher ratio of larger leaves to buds. The taste was very smooth and sweet with a buttery soft mouthfeel. Sweet vegetal notes reminiscent of sugar snap peas were grounded by a comfortingly nutty finish. It wasn't quite the classic chestnut aroma but a very close proximity. There was also a savory quality that I would almost call umami.
I'm a bit conflicted about this tea. I can easily find a higher grade of long jing for a similar price point. However, the taste was definitely very pleasant and enjoyable. The shortcomings that I noted apply to the sample that I received but may not be representative of the entire stock of the product. If I feel a tea is bad, I simply do not write about it. I want to be clear that is not the case here, it just didn't quite live up to the expectations that I have for dragonwell. Have you tried this tea? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!