This is a lovely, very well-made green tea that is modest in price but long on flavor. It is back this year by popular demand as a Tea Trekker customer favorite.
Good news for fans of this tea…..the 2021 season has produced a lovely batch of this tea, made from medium-sized spring leaf that was ready to be plucked at exactly the ‘normal’ time in the spring as most years. This batch really impressed us. The finished tea is the optimal, perfect length – the traditional size – for Dragon Whiskers. This tea will keep well because of both its depth of flavor and the expert firing of leaf (which has a naturally higher moisture content, as did last year’s leaf).
Each year we purchase a larger quantity of this tea, as we expect word-of-mouth about the goodness and value of this tea to continue to spread. We were first introduced to this tea at the Fang Cun tea market in Guangzhou some years ago and ordered it immediately. Sweet, refreshing, highly aromatic, and readily drinkable, this tea has become the everyday tea for many of our customers. Dragon Whiskers is made from Longjing varietal tea bushes that are grown not for production of Longing (this is not the Longjing production zone) but for making this delicious regional tea.
In China, teas such as this are known as Clouds & Mist teas (chun yu), a reference to a weather phenomenon that occurs in many mountainous tea-growing locations of eastern China. At certain high elevations, thin, wispy clouds develop over the landscape in the morning and drift whichever way the wind blows over the tea gardens. This brings much needed gentle moisture to the tea bushes. These misty clouds disappear in the afternoon, only to return again on some of the subsequent days when the weather patterns provide the correct conditions to repeat the phenomenon.
This mao jian pluck – the bud and one leaf – is very elegant in appearance, with a long length and slender profile, in a perfect twisted curl! This makes for a not-as-easy-as-it-could-be-to-measure leaf that yields a very tasty cup with good clarity and an engaging sweet spring aroma. It has a rich, full-bodied, buttery flavor in the cup to satisfy Western tea drinkers, yet has enough of the sweetness of early spring tea to make it truly special. Some Asians refer to this mouthfeel as the ‘tea soup’; or call it ‘brothy’. This tactile impression contributes to its immense ‘returning flavor’ which we tend to call ‘aftertaste’.
Easy to steep (once the correct measure for your taste is determined) this tea is reasonably forgiving about water temperature and steep time. This is not to suggest that attention should not be paid to its steeping parameters, but that it is a more ‘tolerant’ tea in the teapot than are some others. Those of you who purchased it last year will need to un-learn and re-learn the quantity to use though, if measuring by eye, as this year the leaf is less bulky in volume. By weight we use the same 3 grams per 6oz of water that we use for most Chinese greens that we intend to re-steep.