Dragon Well (Long Jing)
The tea loving Kangxi Emperor so loved the tea produced at the Hu Gong Temple that he conferred upon the 18 tea bushes there special imperial status. He is also said to have picked Dragon Well himself, but as laborious the task I imagine he didn’t likely pick very much before he gave up. In the story he hurriedly traveled back to Beijing and served the flattened tea to his sick mother. This is supposed to explain why the tea is flattened, if the story is true the tea he would have served would not taste like a green tea because it would not have been “fixed” by frying the leaves in a big wok to stop their oxidation.
The name Dragon Well comes quite simply from the name of the well in West Lake where the most famous Dragon Well tea comes from. The tea became famous during the last Imperial Dynasty when the Kangxi Emperor made it a tribute tea. His grandson was also quite into Dragon Well tea and was said to visit West Lake on holiday. Ever since then Dragon Well has been found on almost every compilation of the 10 Famous Teas of China.
While Xi Hu Long Jing is the most highly prised on the Chinese market I have found in many taste tests with non-professional tea drinkers from both western countries and China that is less preferred to cheaper teas from other areas of Zhe Jiang.
This style of tea is characterized by the green hue of the tea liquor which is caused by the low oxidation levels of the chlorophyll in the leaves. A process translated as “fixing” or “kill green” flash heats the leaves mere hours after they are picked and before they start what is often called “enzymatic browning”.