The Ultimate Guide to Longjing Tea a.k.a. Dragon Well

Jill Caren

This is one of the finest green teas that I always recommend to my friends when they ask for a tea recommendation. Longjing tea, often …

Categories Green Tea

This is one of the finest green teas that I always recommend to my friends when they ask for a tea recommendation. Longjing tea, often known as Dragon Well tea in the West, is an excellent choice if you like high-quality green tea, wok-fired, with a lovely yellowish-green liquor color and great taste.

I am sure you are interested in learning more about Longjing tea and why it is so special and consistently ranks in the top ten of China’s most popular teas.

What Exactly Is Longjing Tea?

Longjing tea is a famous Chinese green tea also known by the names Dragon Well, Lung Cheng, or Long Jing. It is named after its production region, Longjing Village of West Lake in Hangzhou, China’s Zhejiang Province.

Longjing tea is considered China’s No. 1 tea due to its green color on the leaves, beautiful shape, sweet flavor, and powerful fragrance.

The outstanding geographical location and high-quality water resources around West Lake have greatly aided the growth of Longjing tea.

The Legend of Longjing Tea

Dragon Well tea is a green tea with a more than 1000-year history. The first recorded evidence of this tea is in a book written in the second half of the eighth century by one of the early Chinese tea masters, Lu Yun.

According to legend, Qianlong, Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, witnessed several women picking tea at the foot of Lion Peak Mountain during his visit to Hangzhou. He was so fascinated that he decided to join them.

While picking the tea, he received news about his mother’s failing health. So he carefully tucked the leaves inside his right sleeve and set off for Beijing from Hangzhou. After coming home, the Emperor immediately paid a visit to his mother.

The Empress’s mother smelt the fragrance of the leaves from his sleeves and wanted to have a taste. Emperor ordered some tea to be brewed for her, and she felt much better after sipping a cup of tea.

To express his gratitude, he planted 18 tea plants in the royal tea garden at Shi Feng in Long Jing Village.

The Unique Flavor and Aroma of Longjing Tea

This green tea has a fresh, rich aroma with a subtle toasted and roasted chestnut note. A properly brewed Longjing tea has a sharp, flavorful full body that is not astringent but has a subtle astringency accent.

The taste is sweet in the throat, with a sweet and nutty aftertaste and a slight hint of salt. The liquor is clear and lime yellow in color.

Cultivation and Processing

As mentioned before Dragon Well is grown in Zhejiang Province, which has large mountain regions, a lot of rain, and a mild climate.

Almost the entire year is covered in fog. As a result of the lack of sunlight, Dragon Well tea is considered a shade-grown tea, similar to Japanese Gyokuro or Matcha. This is also why this green tea has more catechins, amino acids, and caffeine than standard green teas.

Longjing tea leaves are picked at various times of the year. The best types are harvested just before the Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day, April 4-5). These teas are known as Ming Qian or pre-Qingming.

So-called Yuqian Tea is made from tea harvested following the ‘grain rain’ season (6th solar term, April 19-May 4). Picked leaves between the Qingming Festival and the ‘grain rain’ season are almost worthless.

After harvesting, the leaves are roasted to stop the oxidation process. This was originally done by hand in iron woks. Longjing is a classic example of wok-roasted green tea. Even today, the best and most expensive leaves are hand-roasted.

Tea masters carefully crush and push the leaves onto the surface of the wok. They can feel the heat and moisture in the leaves with their fingertips and know when they are adequately roasted. This requires a vast range of skills as well as a passion for producing high-quality tea.

Many professional producers now roast the leaves with machinery. As previously said, the highest-quality teas are still hand-roasted. After the roasting process is complete, the leaves are gently flattened and folded to release the aroma.

Longjing’s Tea Varieties

There are 3 primary varieties of Longjing tea, as well as 2 more that are occasionally categorized as Longjing.

The first three are known as Xihu Longjing teas and are cultivated in the West Lake region. The other two are cultivated in the same province but in distinct regions of it.

  • Shi Feng Longjing: Also known as Lion Peak, this Longjing type is thought to be the original, and it is the most exquisite and expensive. It comes in the form of fresh green leaves with a yellowish hue, a fresh flavor, and a long-lasting aroma.
  • Mei Jia Wu Longjing: The second famous Longjing variety. It is also quite expensive and is distinguished by its jade green color.
  • Xi Hu Longjing: Also known as Tiger Spring, this is a pricey Dragon’s Well tea that can withstand multiple infusions without losing flavor.

The other two varieties that are sometimes categorized as Longjing and come from different areas of Zhejiang Province are:

  • Bai Longjing: This looks like a true Longjing and is a relatively new tea. It was created around 30 years ago from a particular variety of white tea plants, however, it is less expensive than authentic Dragon’s Well teas.
  • Qiantang Longjing: This cultivar is grown outside of the West Lake area. It is far less expensive than the original Longjing and hence more accessible to the general public.

Longjing Tea Benefits

Longjing, or Dragon Well Tea, is a type of green tea. So it brings all the benefits that you can get from sipping green tea regularly.

Let’s see why Dragon Well tea is good for you:

It aids in relaxation: Like other green teas, Longjing is also rich in the amino acid L-theanine. The sole difference is that Longjing has greater L-theanine concentrations compared to other Chinese green teas. Theanine counteracts caffeine’s harmful side effects, and it has been shown that it helps to reduce mental and physical stress.

Heart health: A meta-analysis from 2014 shows that green tea consumption significantly lowers blood pressure. Another meta-analysis of observational studies found that drinking one cup of green tea per day reduced the chance of getting coronary artery disease by 10%.

The considerable reduction in blood pressure may explain the positive effects of green tea on cardiovascular disease.

Weight loss effects: Catechins, one of the most significant green tea antioxidants, are abundant in Longjing tea.

Green tea catechins may increase exercise-induced changes in abdominal fat and blood triglyceride levels, according to a randomized control trial published in the Journal of Nutrition.

May improve brain function: Green tea’s caffeine and L-theanine have synergistic effects. This implies that combining the two can have especially potent impacts on boosting brain function. Green tea may provide a much gentler and different type of buzz than coffee due to the L-theanine and the modest amount of caffeine.

Effective for reducing bad breath: Green tea catechins are also beneficial for our oral health.

Catechins have been shown in test tubes to decrease the development of oral bacteria, potentially decreasing the risk of infection. There is also some evidence that green tea can help with bad breath.

How to Properly Brew Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea

It’s crucial to know how to make Longjing tea properly so you’ll get the right flavor and reap all the benefits of this famous green tea.

I’ll show you two ways to make Longjing tea.

First Brewing Method: Using a Long Glass

In Zhejiang, where this tea is cultivated, a teaspoon of tea leaves is placed in a water glass and filled with hot water. The infusion occurs without a cover. Following that, people drink from that glass.

This method of preparing tea was developed just approximately a hundred years ago when having a clear glass was considered a social status symbol. This brewing method allows you to see the beauty of the leaf and the color of the liquor while brewing.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Prepare the tea leaves and hot water, using 2-3 grams of tea leaves and 200 ml of hot water. You will use 150 ml for your tea, and you will need extra hot water for pre-heating the glass. Heat the water to 80 – 85 °C (176 – 185 °F ).

You can use an electric kettle with temperature settings or a thermometer to get the right water temperature. If you don’t have either of these, boil water and let it cool for a couple of minutes. DON’T  use boiling water for green tea.

Water temperature is very important to get the right flavor.

Step 2: Pre-worm Glass-Pour some hot water around 50 ml into the glass cup to clean and sterilize it.

Step 3: Place the tea leaves into a warmed glass and add the water. First, add about 50 ml of hot water, or just enough to cover all the leaves. After one minute, pour in another 100 ml of the remaining hot water.

Brew for 2 minutes before serving. If the taste is too strong, add hot water to the glass. If the taste is weak, add more tea leaves next time.

The Dragon Well Green Tea may usually be brewed 2-3 times using this method. Every time, the aroma and taste are somewhat different.

Second Brewing Method: Using a Gaiwan

A gaiwan is a tiny tea brewing vessel that replaces a teapot. It is made up of three parts: the lid, the bowl, and the saucer. It literally translates to “lid and bowl” and is usually made of porcelain.

Brewing Instructions:

Step 1: Pre-heat your gaiwan. Fill it halfway with hot water. Swirl the bowl around so that the water heats the whole gaiwan. Remove the water.

Step 2: Put one teaspoon of loose leaf Longjing tea in the gaiwan, or enough to cover the bottom with a thin layer of dry leaves. Then add just enough hot water to fill the gaiwan approximately a third of the way. You’ll need hot, not boiling, water.

Water temperature should be approximately 80°C (176°F) while brewing Longjing tea. Tilt and spin the cup so that the leaves are soaked all around. This will extract the flavor of the tea, allowing you to smell and taste its freshness! Then fill the gaiwan with hot water until it is 80% full.

Step 3: Allow the tea to steep for around 2-3 minutes. When most of the leaves have settled at the bottom of the cup, your tea is ready.

After the initial steep, refill the warm water and extend the brewing tea for 10–20 seconds for each subsequent steep. Longjing tea may be brewed 3–4 times using this method.

Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea Caffeine Content

All green teas contain caffeine. The caffeine levels in different green tea types depend on various factors such as steeping time, water temperature, loose-leaf or powdered tea, amount of leaves used, etc.

It is generally known that green tea has less caffeine than coffee.

According to a study from 2019, 5 grams of Longjing (Dragon Well) tea steeped in 200 ml of hot water (158–176°F) for 2 minutes has around 75 mg of caffeine.

In this study, they used 5 grams of tea. You usually use 2-3 grams per cup, so you can expect lower levels of caffeine, around 40-50 mg of caffeine per cup.

How to Select High-Quality Longjing Tea

Today, many manufacturers try to imitate Longjing and sell their low-quality tea as Longjing. They do this because authentic Longjing tea is very expensive.

According to Chinese data, the West Lake Longjing region produces 800-1000 tons of tea every year. The yearly sales volume of West Lake Longjing tea in China, however, greatly exceeds this amount, which may exceed 3,000 tons.

According to these two figures, nearly 70% of the fakes are not from West Lake Longjing. So you must be careful when buying Longjing tea.

To be sure that the Longjing you’re buying is high-quality:

  • Smell: Check for foul odors such as smoke, acid, rot, and mold.
  • Keep a look out for dried tea leaves that are brilliant green, flat, smooth, and complete, with no or few imperfections. The leaf top is shaped like a sword. 
  • Crush some dried tea leaves. They are best when turned into powder; otherwise, they contain far too much water.
  • It has a mellow taste after brewing that can linger on your tongue for a long time. The tea liquid is light green or yellowish-green in color.

Finally, maybe high-quality original Longjing tea is a little bit more expensive compared to other Chinese green tea types, but I want to assure you that if you decide to try it, you won’t make a mistake.

Just make sure to follow the brewing instructions exactly, especially the water temperature and steeping time. Always try to get high-quality loose leaf tea over tea bags for the best flavor. In the end, thanks for reading, and simply try the Longjing tea; it is delicious.