Dragon Well (Long Jing / Lung Ching) Green Tea Leaves in album tea

In Albums: tea

Flat, yellow green, dry tea leaves showing fine hairs

Aug 16th, 2011, by Alex Zorach

This photo shows dry dragon well (long jing) tea leaves before brewing them. This is an extreme closeup photo, I don't have an exact scale, but the leaves are in my gaiwan so the distance from the top to bottom of the photo is probably less than one inch.

Dragon well tea is a style of green tea originating near Hangzhou in Zhejiang province of China. It is also called by the names Long Jing or Lung Ching. This particular batch of dragon well is the best I've ever tried. It was 2011 Pre-Qingming Shi Feng Long Jing from Weng Jia Shan, and I obtained it through Life in Teacup, a small specialty tea company that is one of my favorite sources of Chinese teas.

Dragon well tea is characterized by many features, but the most immediately evident is the unique flat appearance of its leaves. Most green teas (most teas for that matter) have leaves that are more twisted in three dimensions. Dragon well tea leaves tend to be very lightweight and flakey in texture, when dry, although they puff up slightly when steeped in water. This photo shows fine downy white hairs on the leaves. These hairs are not evident on some lower-quality batches of dragon well. I have heard some people raise the question when they receive a shipment of high-quality dragonwell of whether the white hair is actually mold. Although it is possible for tea (including dragon well) to mold if it is not stored properly, the fine white hairy appearance is normal; certain varieties of tea plant have downy white hair on the new leaves. Silver needle white tea also exhibits this same characteristic.