25 Days of Tea: Day 18 (Longjing Dragonwell)

dragonwell_long_jing_webKicking this Sunday morning post off with a Legend.

Longjing / Dragonwell is from the Hangzhou region of China, and has been one of their 10 famous teas since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). If you have not had any drops of this elixir touch your lips, you are missing out on one of the most glorious green teas ever made. It dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and continued through the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties. That’s a very long time.

It’s one of those Chinese teas with a great history filled with legend. This one begins with Emperor Qianlong. While visiting Lion Peak Mountain he saw local ladies picking tea at the base of the mountain. He was enthralled by what they were doing and decided that he would try it himself. During his picking adventure, it came to his attention that his mother was sick. He stopped what he was doing, put the few leaves he had already in his hand up his sleeve and left for Beijing. Upon his arrival, he went directly to see his mother (the Empress Dowager). She smelled the aroma of the tea leaves wafting from his sleeves and wanted to taste them. The Emperor ordered servants to take the leaves and make some tea for her. She sipped the curious concoction and immediately started to feel better and refreshed from her illness. From that moment, Longjing tea became what is called a tribute tea for Empress Dowager.

The production of this tea is elaborate. In general, the best of the best Longjing is picked before the Qingming Festival, with a very strict selection process. The leaves are baked by hand using specially made iron pans. Its characterized by its beautiful and distinct flat-leaf shape; its glorious green leaf color and its mellow, nutty flavor. It is said that the best Longjing/Dragonwell tea comes from from the West Lake District in Hangzhou, with these 5 main production regions: Lion Peak Mountain, Longjing Village, Five Cloud Mountain, Tiger Running Temple and Meijiawu due to its superior water quality around the West Lake and the terroir. Just like how Champagne comes from one specific region of France, Dragonwell grown anywhere other then Zhejiang Province, is considered fake.

The first time I tried Longjing/Dragonwell, I remember thinking: “This is going to become an addiction” – because I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. The appearance of the leaf had me mesmerized, but when it was brewed and that delicious liquid hit my tongue, I was smitten. My favorite green teas include Dragonwell as one of them. It’s a very easy, non-offensive green tea and I encourage you to try it, if you haven’t already. Here are some more notes on this famous tea:

• Overview:   One of the 10 famous teas of China – specifically from the Zhejiang Province.
• Dry Leaf:    Distinctively flat and green
• Liquor (liquid):   Glorious emerald green color
• Aroma:   Nutty, fresh, sweet
• Flavor notes:    First drops wake up taste buds having them clamor for more. The nuttiness is upfront, but lingers as does a sweetness on the long finish.
• Brewing recommendation:     175˚F  for 1-2 minutes.
• Caffeine: Yes

If you are interested in giving todays pick a try, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas tea shop today and use code: 25TEAS18 at checkout to get 25% of Dragonwell– today only!

Happy Sipping!
-The Chief Leaf

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25 Days of Tea: Day 18 (Longjing Dragonwell)

The Green Tea Martini for New Years Eve

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me, and a cuppa green tea spiked with vodka

With only 3 days left until the new year, I have to admit, I can’t wait to say goodbye to 2008. Out with the old and in with the new. I have high hopes for 2009. So much tea to taste. Blends to create. Gardens to visit. People to spend time with over afternoon tea. And… more time to spend nurturing my little tea company, Pearl Fine Teas, that is slowly, but surely, making its way into the hearts of many.

So, rather than talk about how we should usher the New Year in with a nice traditional cuppa, I’ve decided to share with all of you one of the most fabulous cups of “tea” I’ve had in the last year. Namely the GREEN TEA MARTINI! Think about it… It’s the perfect combination of fun and antioxidant. What better way to say “Happy New Year” than with one of these in your hand.  I can tell you from experience that this baby goes down smooth, so take it slow. And choose a designated driver.

GREEN TEA MARTINI COCKTAIL

1 Serving (Scale ingredients to servings)

2 oz lemon vodka (Absolut Citron)
1/2 oz Grand Marnier® orange liqueur
1 oz chilled green tea (we used Dragonwell)
honey to taste

• Steep loose leaf green tea, but not too long so it doesn’t become bitter. Cool off and add some honey to sweeten lightly.
• Combine tea, vodka and Grand Marnier in a martini shaker with ice and shake until chilled.
• Pour into a martini glass pre-rimmed with sugar crystals (makes the glass look cute and adds a bit of sweetness)
• Garnish with lime or orange slices.

Happy Sipping!

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The Green Tea Martini for New Years Eve