– Attention! Shi Feng fans please read this –
For 2021, at the beginning of the season (now) we will have a temporary fill-in inventory of Longjing Shi Feng that is one grade higher than our usual 1st Grade Shi Feng. This grade is known in China as “Special Grade”.
There will likely be a gap in supply between this lot and the time that our regular Shi Feng arrives (usually mid-end of July); but we purchased this to help bridge the summer demand. They are very similar to each other, but the temporary lot is just a tiny bit more subtle and less toasty, in the Chinese tradition for the early harvest Longjing teas. They will retail for the same price.
– Lot ‘B’ is In Transit To Us Now –
This first lot will be marked as Lot 2021A, and our regular lot, when it arrives, will be marked as 2021 B.
We do not do this lightly, as it may prove confusing; however, many of you have been asking about the Shi Feng tea this year, earlier than ever, plus the ‘Village-Specific’ Longjings sold more quickly than ever this spring, so I decided to try this out for this season. All the 2021 Shi Feng tea will be clearly marked and the website posting will match what we have available. There will only be one Shi Feng available at any given time…so this will be a great opportunity to taste the difference between two of the top grades of Longjing.
The following description, based on our tasting sample, refers to the main lot that will arrive in July.
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Longjing Shi Feng 1st Grade, (aka DragonWell ) is one of our most popular teas. It is harvested during the 2nd harvesting season in the spring and we intentionally receive it in the late spring/early summer. We like to have this tea after the early spring Longjings have sold out, when it is time to focus on the more mature, nutty, complex and involved flavors that come forward in Shi Feng 1st Grade Longjing.
This lovely tea has a warm, toasty, slightly yeasty flavor with a hint of chestnut in the after-taste. While a 1st Grade Longjing will normally be ‘stronger’ overall, and more forthright in flavor than the other Longjings that we offer, our 2021 1st Grade is a perfectly-timed mid-season Yu Qian pluck that possesses great clarity and pureness of flavor – representing the more subtle style that the Chinese prefer – and it also shows a depth of flavor that a slightly more mature leaf will exhibit. As happens regularly in the traditional Chinese manner, the 2021 harvest was not deemed ‘ready-to-drink’ immediately after harvest and manufacture, so our tea maker held it until the leaf was ready for market. By releasing it after a short ‘resting’ period, the leaf was afforded an opportunity to develop its fine flavor and deep rich character. It is also a bit ‘sweet’ again this year, which adds to its complexity and contributes a long aftertaste (or as the Chinese refer to it: ‘returning flavor‘). all of this was particularly important this year (2021) due to the early start to the tea harvest in so many parts of China.
Though having been plucked during the second-earliest Spring season, this 1st Grade has that toasty underlying style that we love in a hearty Longjing. This and the Longjing from Weng-jia Shan are Tea Trekker’s bolder style Longjings, although this year the 2021 harvests are more different than each other than most years, in that the Weng-jia Shan is arguably more subtle than it has been in many years.
We find a clear distinction between the style of Longjing that is highly-regarded in East Asia and that preferred in the West. In East Asia, subtlety and clarity, softness and sweetness are the most-sought-after qualities in Longjing. In most of North America and Western Europe, a bolder, more nutty and assertive style of Longjing is preferred. Most of this year’s 2021 Longjings are in the ‘normally subtle’ range; after having been in the ‘more subtle’ niche for the last several years. This tends to make the Shi Feng appear less strong by comparison; however it is consistent with its historic norm.
Longjings have different flavor profiles due to the influences (terroir) particular to the micro-climates that exist in and around the harvesting areas in the vicinity of West Lake (the origin of authentic Longjing), and the time of the pluck.
All of our Longjing teas are completely hand made and are pan-fired in charcoal-fired tea firing pans by artisans who are masters of their craft.
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