Longjing Tea – The Greenest Brew in Town
With recent temperatures climbing to 20 degrees Celsius and with ample rainfall Hangzhou’s famous green tea leaves, in the groves of the 1st protection area of West Lake, have begun to sprout and tea growers in Longjing Village, Meijiawu Village, Longwu Village, Wengjiashan Village can be seen picking the very first leaves of the famous Longjing variety. In less than one week tea lovers all over town will be able to sip a cup of their favourite green brew.
About Longjing Tea
Longjing Tea is named after Longjing Village a quaint area steeped in tea leaves and nestled comfortably among the West Lake’s surrounding mountains. The village is also the original production area for the pan-roasted green tea which, produced mostly by hand, is also renowned for its high quality. Topping the list of ‘China’s Ten Famous Teas’, Longjing Tea boasts a time-honoured history of over 1,200 years and has since the very beginning enjoyed high prestige where emperors, like Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1711-1799), consumed it as a tribute tea and upon savouring it labeled 18 tea bushes in the Jiangnan region as ‘Royal Tea Trees’.
Categories of Longjing Tea
Due to the popularity of Longjing Tea, production areas have extended to other areas of Zhejiang Province and now Longjing tea falls into four categories which out of the following, Xihu Longjing, DafoLongjing, QiantangLongjing and Yuezhou Longjing, the former is the best.
There are two types of Longjing Tea, Mingqian Tea and Minghou Tea, which are named according to the time in which their leaves are picked. The Mingqian Tea (明前茶) leaves are picked before Tomb-Sweeping Day (April 5, 2015) and the Minghou Tea leaves thereafter. Out of the two Mingqian Tea is of the best quality.
According to the quality of the leaves, Longjing Tea is divided into six grades: with superior being the most expensive and which can cost several thousand pounds per Jin (1 Jin equals 500 grams).
Longjing Tea on the Market
There are many factors determining the price of Longjing Tea such as the amount produced and its quality. It is hard to estimate how much tea is produced each year and only an expert eye can guarantee its quality, so the best way to determine these factors is to see the infused tea leaves and it’s usually the most tender, whole leaves that are the best. Colour is also an indicator with light green being the highest quality to the steeped bluish, green leaves being the lowest.
In Jiande, there is an ancient town that has experienced thousands of years of wind and rain. It has a beautiful name called Meicheng (Plum Blossom Town). Meicheng was the state town of the then Yanzhou and is now the county town of Jiande. It has a history of 1700 years.