In early 2014 I visited the home of Tea Master Weng Shang Yi in the tiny village of Long Jing, the origin of the prestigious Long Jing Shi Feng green tea we sell here at Cuppa Cha. This friendly village is situated near the Western Lake District of Hangzhou, the capital of Zheijing Province, China.
Long Jing Shi Feng green tea (Dragonwell, Long Jing) is picked and processed entirely by hand, unlike some of the Long Jing’s that are also handpicked but mechanically processed. . It requires great skill to hand fry the tea buds and fresh leaves to create Long Jing’s unique flat shape. Unfortunately there are many fakes being sold as Long Jing Shi Feng. However, because of our firsthand knowledge of this tea, and our association with the supply source, we can proudly state that we carry the prestigious genuine item.
This tea is picked in early spring – March to April. The Imperial picking is the most prestigious and takes place around 20th March, before the feast of Qing Ming. This is the festival when tombs of ancestors are swept and cleaned in their remembrance. This falls either on the 4th or 5th April.
Mr Weng, a well-respected Tea Master was 84 years of age at the time of my visit. He walked us to the slopes of Shin Feng “Lion’s Peak” where he showed us his meticulously care for, wonderful tea plantation for the Long Jing Shi Feng. He relayed to us that according to legend, a Taoist Monk came across a dragon hiding in a well nearby. At that time (250AD) there was a severe drought and the people were desperate for rain to save their tea crop.
The monk told the people of his discovery and they immediately implored the dragon in the well to help and end the drought. During prayers the clouds began to gather and the rains came thus ending the drought. To commemorate this occasion the monks temple where they prayed was named Dragon Well which also why this tea is called dragon well (Long Jing).
This particular green tea won a gold medal in 1988 in the International Institute of Quality section at Palms. It is the tea mentioned in the first ever book of tea complied by Lu Yu (733-804AD).
During the Tang Dynasty period (618-906AD) which became the “GOLDEN AGE” of tea. Lu Yu describes all aspects including the plant origins and characteristics, different varieties, processing of the leaf and the implements needed, brewing methods and quality of water, medical qualities and the tea drinking traditions. This book still very much followed today, is called “Cha Chang” known as “The Classic of Tea”.
Long Jing Shi Feng green tea has an abundant presence of catechins (modules belonging to the polyphenol group). Catechins in teas contain ECCG (Epigalocatechin Galute) known as tannin which give tea an astringent body. These catechins are known to make living tissues contract thereby neutralising free radicals within our body all of which contribute to keeping us healthy.