Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What-Cha: Zhejiang Wild-Growing Dragon Well 'Long Jing' Green Tea, A Tea Review

This is one of those days where I lack anything truly interesting or insightful as an opener to today's tea. Sorry about that guys, I guess I can't always be super clever or have super fun days. Yours truly might have overdone it a bit while I was rock hunting, it was totally worth it though. Examining one of the rocks I just stuffed in my pocket that fell off while I was hammering a larger chunk, it appears to be crusted with tiny epidote crystals. Next time I feel better, rock cleaning will occur and it will be awesome.

 Today's tea is part of a quest, not just to try all the teas at What-Cha (yes I have an obsession) but to find the perfect everyday Long Jing, yeah, I could drink this tea everyday...problem is all of my favorites have been really expensive. The cheap ones I have tried have been good, but not 'everyday' material, so maybe Zhejiang Wild-Growing Dragon Well 'Long Jing' Green Tea will fit the bill. This particular Long Jing is pretty nifty since it is picked from tea plants growing wild on an abandoned tea field. The aroma of the leaves is delightfully sweet and nutty, like roasted sesame seeds and a tiny touch of peanuts. This transitions to spinach and a tiny bit of sharp artichoke at the finish, so the aroma has a nice zingy finish.

So for this tea I decided to break out my (possibly) 18th century Chinese Imari Ware gaiwan, it is super tiny and delicate, perfect for a green tea! The aroma of the brewed leaves is very vegetal, a really green smelling cocktail of artihoke, green beans, and cooked spinach. There is a tiny touch of chestnut at the finish, but mostly the leaves are a pile of veggies. The liquid is delightfully delicate with slightly sweet nutty notes of chestnut and sesame seed and a touch of indistinctly vegetal aroma at the finish.

OMG yum, this tea is so tasty, and it has nothing to do with sipping it out of a dainty crystal...not sure if this is a cup or tiny vase, it was a quarter so it is a cup now! So, what makes this tea so good you are probably wondering, its crazy smoothness. The taste starts out sweet with notes of honey sesame candies and a touch of chestnut. This transitions to greenness with artichoke and green beans, this greenness lingers until the end with a hint of spinach. The aftertaste is honey sweet and lingers long after I have finished.

Second steeping time brings out more sweetness in the aroma than the previous steep, a sweetness of honey, roasted chestnuts, and toasted sesame seeds, there is a hint of vegetal at the finish reminding me that this indeed a green tea and not a sweet and nutty treat. The mouthfeel is surprisingly creamy for a green tea, which I like, it gives what I usually consider a light tea a touch of richness. The taste starts off honey and chestnut sweet and then fades to a savory cooked spinach and green bean midtaste. After that the finish it buttery, like lima beans and a bit like peas.

I also decided to give this tea a go grandpa style, Long Jing being one of my favorite teas to do this style (one of the reasons I am hunting the perfect everyday one) and this one handles really well. Steeping it grandpa style (or bowl style if you don't want to get Gangnam Style stuck in your head every time you use it) brings out more of the savory vegetal notes, and calms the sweet down, which has its pros and cons. After many refills of the bowl and sippings I noticed it never got bitter, which is awesome. This tea is perfect for a grandpa style everyday tea, it is a little too rich and sweet for the gaiwan steepings, which is fine by me, I can make it a treat to do it that style. Perhaps my quest is over (not that I am not going to still try tons of Dragon Wells!)

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