5 Legendary Dragon Well Green Tea Villages
When people talking about Chinese green teas, Dragon Well tea is the first they should be talking about. It is famous for its wonderful taste and high quality, which is mostly the result of perfect natural characteristics of its production region, known as the ‘West Lake’ region. There are five legendary villages that produce Dragon Well green tea. They are Shifeng, Longjing, Yunxi, Hupao and Meijia Wu. Thus this tea can be classified into 5 types according to these five villages.
The map below shows the West Lake region with the lake in the upper right part of the map. The 5 villages are located in the green area south west of the Lake.
This tea is also known as Lion Peak Dragon Well. It is the highest grade of its type and therefore the most expensive one.
Shifeng village was the original plantation area of West Lake Dragon Well tea. It is a very beautiful village that is named after the Shifeng mountain. It has the best growing environment for Dragon Well tea. According to a legend there are18 tea trees outside the Hugong temple in Shifeng Mountain of which the leaves could cure serious illnesses of the emperor’s mother. After that teas from Shifeng village became tribute teas for the royal family.
‘Longjing’ means Dragon Well in Chinese, so you can see how important Longjing village is for Dragon Well teas. There is a well named dragon well in the village and it is said all teas are irrigated by water from that well throughout history. Dragon Well green teas produced in Longjing village are the second highest in quality.
You may be curious about why people use Longjing instead of Shifeng to name this tea. There are two main reasons. Firstly, Shifeng village is on the mountain and most people even don’t know it, while Longjing village is located at the foot the mountain and therefore much easier to visit. Secondly, in the past, Shifeng tea is only for the emperor’s family; common people are not allowed to buy teas from Shifeng.
Yunxi is a village that is famous for its bamboo path. And teas planted in this village can rank at the third place.
‘Yun’ means cloud in Chinese. The village is on a high mountain so it is in the clouds sometimes. Xi is winding stream in Chinese. A winding stream crosses the village and the tea trees are planted beside it. When people from other places come to visit the village, they find the stream and the tea trees in the clouds. “Dragon” lives in the clouds in Chinese culture, thus they treat the stream as a dragon and the teas trees as claws, explaining why this tea is named after a mythical creature.
Actually, although Hupao Dragon Well tea is only placed fourth, it is much more famous than Yunxi and Shifeng teas because it’s located near a popular tourist attraction; the Running Tiger Spring (Hupao Spring).
Hupao Spring and Dragon Well tea have been well renowned and acclaimed as “two top specialties of West Lake.” As the Chinese saying goes, “water is the mother of tea.” The quality of tea lies with the quantity of beneficial substances that are dissolved in water, the taste, the aroma and the colour. As Hupao Spring water is clean and low in organic content, the aroma and taste of Longjing tea is not distracted, which ensures that tea drinkers will enjoy the very authentic taste. Slight aroma of Dragon Well tea made with sweet Hupao Spring water is absolutely best choice for tea lovers.
Meijia Wu Village
At first Dragon Well tea was not cultivated in Meijia Wu, but with the increasing requirement, teas from the four villages above couldn’t meet the market and Meijia Wu is much bigger than the other four villages. Therefore many farmers from this village began to produce the tea. Now Meijia Wu is a wide natural reserve and most Dragon Well teas are produced in this village. These teas don’t have high quality as teas from those four villages but the price is much more affordable.
Other “Dragon Well Teas”
Besides these five main types of Dragon Well teas, these days some new kinds have appeared on the market.
Qian Tang Tea
This tea is also produced in the Zhejiang province, just outside the West Lake area. It is a cheaper variety, as it is not from the West Lake plantations. Even though many tea masters don’t consider this to be a true Dragon Well tea, this type could be enjoyable to beginning tea drinkers.
Bai Dragon Well Tea
This variety is produced in An Ji, in the Zhejiang Province. Though similar the original in shape it is called a ‘Bai Pian’ Tea and it stands out for having a higher amount of amino acids than other green teas. So it is not a real Dragon Well Tea, but very healthy with a taste worth the price.