It was our goal to have 2009 Pre-Qing Ming Longjing teas here as early as possible, and we made it. Even after our local Post Office sat on our package for 5 days before we knew that it had arrived.
Needless to say we are thrilled to have this very special and historic tea at the peak of it’s perfection. While I wish that all of us could be in the tea fields in China right now, being able to drink this splendid early-harvest tea is the next best thing. And being able to bring it to all of you as well makes our sipping even sweeter.
Chinese tea enthusiasts believe that the earlier the pluck, the better the tea. And tea enthusiasts in the know are eager for this time of the year as the opportunity for purchasing these special teas is fleeting.
In China, the earliest plucked tea leaves are known as Pre-Qing Ming or Ming Qian teas. Early spring plucking begins in late February to early March ( depending on the province, region, and weather ) and ends on April 5th. Only teas that are plucked during this short time can be sold as Pre-Qing Ming tea.
Longjing is one of China’s Famous Teas. At one time, the teas on the list, including Longjing tea, were exclusive ’tributes’ or honor gifts bestowed upon and drunk only by the Chinese Emperors. Longjing is perhaps the most famous of these legendary teas, in part because the city of Hangzhou and West Lake became the epicenter of refined and expressive artistic tea culture during the Song dynasty.
The Southern Song ( 1127-1279 ) located its capital to the city of Hangzhou, in Zheijang Province. This cosmopolitan city became the artistic center of a blossoming tea culture and the associated arts in China. Hangzhou attracted a literati crowd who found the pagodas, tea drinking pavillions, tea houses, restaurants and local cuisine to be the perfect locale for their leisurely pursuits of painting, poetry-writing, tea drinking contests, and tea wares collecting.
Hangzhou was also the locale of Longjing tea: sweet, slightly nutty pan-fired tea from tea bushes nurtured in the hills surrounding the dreamy mists of West Lake and watered by the pure spring waters that fed the DragonWell. Today, Hangzhou is still famous for its architecture and still exudes an old-fashioned tea culture based on the artistic, pleasurable and restorative nature of tea drinking. Hangzhou draws on the natural beauty of West Lake and all of the lovely pavillions, temples and gardens located along the shores. There is also an abundance of tea houses, tea shops and many fine restaurants that still incorporate fresh Longjing tea into their regional dishes.
And of course, hangzhou is most famous for Longjing tea. If one is lucky, one might encounter a tea processor pan-firing some fresh leaf in a local tea shop. Longjing tea became famous in the Song dynasty because of the terroir: the combination of good soil, cool air and clean, natural water that are the necessary conditions for excellent tea. It remains famous today because of the dedicated efforts of the tea farmers and tea producers to protect the integrity of Longjing by maintaining careful cultivation and production standards for China’s most famous tea. Visitors to this area can visit some of the tea gardens and processing factories, and of course, drink Longjing tea.
We proudly announce the arrival of our 2009 Pre Qing Ming Longjing teas, both of which are fit for a Chinese Emperor:
Longjing is China’s most famous green tea, and it is the most important of the pre-Qing Ming teas. Longjing tea is originally from tea gardens located in the vicinity of West Lake ( Xi Hu region ) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. The most prized Longjing still comes from the original regions, which historically were called Lion, Dragon, Cloud ( Meijiawu Village), Tiger, and Plum. Today, the names have changed, but authentic Longjing tea must come from a place located within the National Designated Protected Zone. This zone is a scant 168 kilometers in area, and all Longjing tea from here is sold under the name of the region or village where it was plucked. The most important places in the Xi Hu region are:
• Shi-feng Mountain
• Meijiawu Village
• Weng-jia Mountain
Delicious Longjing tea has been made here for many centuries. This fine Longjing is made just outside of the Xi Hu designation in Xin Chang county. There is a long history of tea cultivation and tea drinking in this region: much of it began centuries ago to supply the needs of the resident monks and visiting scholars at the Dafo Buddhist Temple ( constructed 4th century BC). Chinese tea enthusiasts seek out Dafo Longjing for its clean, refreshing flavor and lower price.