After we picked and tasted some of the freshly picked tea leaves, we went to an area of large metal woks and saw how the tea leaves were lightly roasted — immediately after picking, so the green leaves wouldn’t oxidize or ferment. We tasted them again; after roasting, the leaves were slightly crunchy and tasted something like a delicate sunflower seed. We watched the tea leaves go from bush to bag to wok, then we went into a ceremonial tearoom for a taste of tea as it is intended.
In our tearoom at the Longjing Tea Plantation, we came to understand why Longjing is considered by many to be the best green tea in the world. A green tea professional (a women with a PhD in tea) lectured us about the Dragon Well Tea as we drank. She suggested drinking eight to 20 cups of green tea each day not only for taste, but for health purposes.
Good green works as a natural detox, helps with weight control, and is good for general health. (Not to mention how healthy such prescriptions are for the local tea industry.) Good business or not, the tea was so fragrant and tasty that, after making several cups with the same leaves, we could eat the wet tea leaves and they tasted great. These greens sold themselves.
With an earthy, sweet fragrance and taste, we agreed that the fresh Longjing “dragon well” tea was the best tea we’d tasted . . . even if perhaps elevated by our unique experience. It’s safe to say that Hangzhou and the nearby Longjing Dragon Well tea left a pleasing taste in our mouths.
If You’d Like to Follow in Our Footsteps
Chances are, if you’re going to the plantation for a Longjing Dragon Well tea experience, you’re already in China for a tour of Hangzhou. And, although Hangzhou, with a population of about 7 million, remains a serene heaven on earth and is one of the most popular vacation destinations for natives, if a westerner is visiting Hangzhou, in most cases, their true destination was Shanghai.
The point being, I’ll spare the details of how to get to China, other than to say that the most economical and comfortable way is to secure a package deal with one of several Chinese tour companies that offer deals so attractive that they must be subsidized by the government to promote tourism. Many of these package deals offer about half of the time on guided tours (convenient) and half of your time on your own (for exploring and adventuring on your own). We prefer the latter.
There’s really not a bad time to visit Hangzhou, but the best times are in the spring and autumn. Nicole and I enjoyed our visit in the spring.
From Shanghai, you can reach the Longjing Dragon Well hillsides by taking the high-speed train to Hangzhou. Then, from Honggiao railway station, you can take the B2 bus or a taxi to Wulin Square. From there, you can take Bus 28 to the Qu Yuan Feng bus stop, transfer to Bus 27 and take it to the Longjing Cha Shi stop. Walk west, take the turn right at the fork, and you’ll be there.
Traveler’s secret: some people love the adventure of taking the public transportation as described above. If you prefer a less stressful route, a taxi from downtown Hangzou will only run around ten dollars or euros.
Just make sure you keep enough currency to enjoy some good tea, and to perhaps even take a canister or two home with you.
Author Bio: Eric D. Goodman enjoys traveling as much as he loves writing. His fiction and travel stories have been published in many periodicals, including Go Nomad, InTravel Magazine, Travel Mag, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Review, The Pedestal Magazine, The Potomac, Grub Street, Scribble Magazine, and others. Eric’s the author of the award-winning Tracks: A Novel in Stories about travelers who connect on a train, Flightless Goose, a storybook for children, and the forthcoming Womb: a novel in utero. Learn more about Eric and his work at www.EricDGoodman.com and connect with him at www.Facebook.com/EricDGoodman.