One of the most famous teas outside Chinese borders. It is a variety of smoked green tea which comes from the area of Long Jing Village, near Hang Zhou in the Chinese province of Zhejiang.
After being harvested, the tea leaf is deposited in a well-ventilated room. The leaves are spread in layers of 3 – 5 cm and left to rest for 6 – 12 hours. This process allows the humidity to be reduced by 70%. The aroma of the leaf is reduced, as well as its bitter taste and the percentage of amino acids increases.
Drying – Enzyme Activation
During the first drying in the heated pan, the purpose of 殺青 is to activate the oxidizing enzymes such as polyphenol oxidase (PPO) with heat, but also to create the preliminary form of Longjing. With the high temperature, the tea leaves heat up in a very short time and the oxidizing enzymes are activated.
When the temperature reaches 80 – 100° C, you put about 100 g of tea leaves in the pan and start drying them manually.
In the beginning, the main gesture is to take the leaves, bring them 10 cm high above the pan and spread them slowly to vaporize the moisture. After 3 or 4 minutes of drying, the leaves will soften. Then the gestures of the hands will have to be changed, overlapping, pressing and crushing, crushing, banging or throwing. Progressively increase the pressure exerted by the hands. This is an important step because it will create the preliminary shape of the Longjing.
Leaves are hung and stretched in long and narrow strips. The skilled tea master must carefully manage the time of action and the pressure to be applied with the hand: excessive crushing, wrong manual movements or a pressure applied too early, can determine a too dark color of the leaves, however if the leaves are not crushed and stretched, this indicates the compression applied manually was not enough or it started too late.
After drying for 12 – 15 minutes, when the moisture in the leaves has reduced by 20 – 30%, it will be necessary to remove the leaves from the pan.
The dried leaves should be spread 15 to 20 cm apart and cooled for about 40 to 60 minutes. In this way, the leaves will reabsorb moisture and soften (this process is called 回潮Hui-chao).
After cooling, the softened leaves are hulled to remove broken or small pieces, and hand sorted to remove yellow or burnt pieces, red leaves, too long stems and foreign bodies. Subsequently, the selected leaves are sieved in order to obtain the first portion of leaves, composed by those that remain on the surface of the sieve, those that pass through the instrument are sieved again and again in order to obtain the second portion of leaves that remain on the surface of the sieve and then the third portion, that is the leaves that pass through the mesh of the screen.
These three portions of leaves will be dried a second time, but separately.
Second pan drying – Shaping and drying
The purpose of the second pan drying is shape creation and further moisture removal. Typically, 2 – 3 portions of leaves are harvested after the first drying and are designated for re-drying. The harvested leaves weigh about 100 g in total.
The initial temperature of the pan should be 60 – 80˚C: it will be necessary to dry until the leaves are warmed and softened, then the temperature should be raised to 80 – 90˚C, and continue drying. When the leaves are reduced to flat and smooth strips, the temperature should be reduced to 50˚C.
During drying, the pressure applied manually is increased gradually.
This will require crushing, bending, rubbing, compressing and pushing. The leaves should always be in contact with your hands and the pan. Roasting continues until the leaves become flat, smooth and shiny. As the leaves begin to emit their aroma, they risk to break more easily and the moisture content is still reduced by 5 – 6%, drying at this point is sufficient. The total time needed for the procedure is 25 minutes.
Long Jing Classification
There are three types of Long Jing that is grown and produced in Hang Zhou village all three types have the name Xi Hu Long Jing. Although they have the same name, they have different prices.
Let’s try to understand why
- Shi Feng (Lion’s Peak) Long Jing – is perhaps the best of the three Long Jing: historically this Long Jing is the most expensive, both because of the cultivation method (the famous No.43) and the geographical location.
- Mei Jia Wu Long Jing from Mei Jia Wu village and surrounding areas.
- Other areas where tea is produced include the West Lake area, also called Xi Hu Long Jing. (Now Xi Hu Long Jing is used as a generic nomenclature for all Long Jing in all manufacturing districts of Hangzhou).
Due to high demand, Long Jing, in addition to the above areas, is also produced in:
Qiantang 30 km from Hangzhou
Yuezhou about 100 km from Hangzhou, here are the highest gardens where this type of tea is grown: the famous Da Fo (Big Buddha) Long Jing comes from this region…
A. Hangzhou Xi Hu Long Jing is divided into three districts:
A1 Shi Feng Jing
A2 Mei Jia Wu Long Jing
A3 Altro Xi Hu Long Jing
B. Qiantang (tea from this region is called Qiantang Long Jing or Zhejiang Long Jing)
C. Yuezhou (tea from this region is called Yuezhou Long Jing or Zhejiang Long Jing. Tea grown and produced in the country of Xichang is called Long Jing Da Fo)
Only tea coming from these places can be called Hangzhou Long Jing, Xi Hu Long Jing or Zhejiang Long Jing and will present its characteristic green color, sweet scent, delicate appearance and delicious taste.
It is obvious that, being the most famous and most wanted tea, it is also the most counterfeited one! In many areas, not only in China, but also in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand Long Jing is produced, or better said, it is counterfeited…
When buying tea, ask semore where it comes from, the harvest time and condition.
On Mount Shi Feng, there are many cultivations that produce Long Jing. The most well-known one is Long Jing No. 43. This cultivation is famous because its budding season is 7 – 10 days earlier than other cultivations. In China, if Long Jing arrives early in the tea market, the price will be better. Drinking tea harvested first, during spring, is a tradition people are fond of.
This is why cultivation #43 is highly valued by farmers because it generates more income. This factor has resulted in farmers eliminating native crops to replace them with cultivation #43. In fact, this premature harvesting can be done because the leaves grow faster. Just as in vegetables grown in greenhouses to ensure faster growth, the taste becomes lighter.
Quality teas must be given enough time to grow slowly, in order to allow aroma and flavor to be rich.
Native cultivation, on the other hand, is known as mixed cultivation. Its name derives from the fact they are made of few hybrid cultivations due to inseminations done during the course of history. It was the first generation of tea planted by the ancestors of the Long Jing area.
In general, mixed cultivation generates longer roots than modern cultivars, such as No. 43. For this reason, mixed cultivation has the great ability to absorb minerals from the soil. In addition, the growth time of mixed cultivation is slower than modern cultivation and the number of leaves is lower.
The result is only one: taste and aroma of tea will be much superior than those of modern cultivations.
Old Tea Tree ：老樹
Today, only a limited number of old trees remain on Shi Feng Mountain and they are those of mixed cultivation. Mt. Shi Feng may have been the first place where tea was planted in the history of Long Jing. Some tea trees are over 100 years old. Older trees have much longer roots than the young ones.
Nevertheless, there are places where old trees coexist in new cultivations such as Long Jing No. 43 on Shi Feng Mountain. To make sure we get the quality we want, we select tea from the plants that are at the highest altitude in the gardens of Mount Shi Feng. We also book a year in advance to make sure we get the best possible product.
We do not want Shi Feng just because it is famous. We selected it after carefully investigating the essential factors that constitute the quality of Long Jing. Because of its prestige, Shi Feng Long Jing is very expensive. Only the Long Jing of the second and third harvests are cheaper and are made of longer leaves, irregular shapes and sizes, less full-bodied taste, but retain an intense aroma and a hint of bitterness.
We select only the Long Jing of the first harvest from ancient trees of mixed cultivation, planted on the heights of Mount Shi Feng. This tea is suitable for those who desire a product as renowned as it is high quality.
The Secret Chemistry of Long Jing (Health Benefits)
Studies have identified green tea’s quality factors in theine, catechin, caffeine and gallic acids. Scientists have also found that Long Jing contains these elements in large quantities.
Here are four types of catechins: EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), ECG (epicatechin gallate), EGC (epigallocatechin) and EC (epicatechin).
Of these, the most potent are EGCG and ECG. A recent study found that the older the tea gets, the lower the levels of EGCG and ECG, but the levels of EGC and EC increase. Long Jing contains high levels of EGCG and ECG (the most effective), and a low rate of EGC.
It also contains high levels of theogallin, 2-O-(arabinopyranosic)-myo-inositol, six other sugar compounds, low levels of fatty acids, and sucrose.
These compounds do not affect the goodness of the tea, but they do affect its quality. As some claim, they are an indicator of the maturity of the tea sample.
Preparation method A: use a tall mug
The best way to serve Long Jing is to pour it in a tall mug. This kind of container is often used for serving Chinese green tea or yellow tea. We suggest you to use a transparent mug, without decorative designs, so you can observe the beauty of the tea while it is infusing.
The method of infusion of Long Jing is called “Infusion from above”. The leaves of Long Jing are flat, it is not easy to make them stay at the bottom of the cup, but with this method of infusion, the process happens “twice”: first, the leaves are moistened with a small quantity of water in order to make them unfold, then the rest of the water will be poured for the cup of tea. The details of this method are as follows:
- Prepare 3 g of tea leaves per 150 ml of water.
- Place the leaves in a heated mug.
- Let the boiling water subside to 80 – 85°C, green tea leaves need warmer temperatures than black or oolong tea.
- Slowly pour the water over the leaves. Fill ⅓ of the glass (about 50 ml), just to completely cover the leaves.
- After one minute, pour in the remaining 100 ml of water. Leave to infuse for two minutes and serve.
- If the flavor is too strong, add more hot water to the cup.
- You can add water as long as you wish. Since this is a very expensive tea, we can make at least 5 or 6 infusions.
Preparation method B: use a teapot
Hot water: leaf weight = 1:50 (4g of leaves per 200 ml of water). Temperature: 80-85° C
- Clean the teapot with boiling water to warm it up.
- Use the amounts of green tea indicated by the instructions.
- Let the boiling water return to 80 to 85°C. Green tea leaves need warmer temperatures than black or oolong tea.
- Slowly pour water over the leaves. Put the lid on and let it steep for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Make sure you have emptied the teapot completely. If hot water remains, the risk is to damage the leaves before the next infusion. Therefore it is necessary to use a pitcher so as not to leave tea inside the teapot.
- Remove the lid while you wait to perform the second brew. Otherwise, the tea leaves will be overheated and oxidized if the lid is not removed.
- From the second infusion, leave the leaves in water for only 2 – 3 seconds.