If I had to pick a favorite green tea, Dragon Well would be my vote. I was fascinated by its unexpectedly full flavor and the distinct appearance of its leaves the first time I tried it. So, I was thrilled when Yezi Tea sent a sample for Tea Time.
Known as Long Jing (Chinese for “dragon well”) in its native China, Dragon Well is celebrated as an Imperial Tea and surrounded by all kinds of lore. Listing all of the legends would take a while; but after researching, it’s clear why emperors loved this tea. Dragon Well is harvested exclusively in Hangzhou’s lakes region, and is comprised of unopened leaf buds called “dragon sprouts” (a.k.a. water lily hearts). The leaves are plucked by hand during the first couple weeks of spring, then pressed in a hot wok until the ideal shape is achieved. As for the scent and taste… Well, that’s what this review is for, right? 😉
Yezi Tea’s Description: “With the first brew, you will enjoy the distinct and powerful tastes that are not characteristically associated with green tea. You will sense the assertive notes of grass, spinach and seaweed that fill out the body of this ancient tea. You will roll your tongue in your mouth and you will contemplate. And you will know that the Xi Hu Long Jing is a bold tea worthy of the fiercest dragon.”
Ingredients: Dragon Well green tea leaves
Steeping Instructions: Use 1 tsp of tea for every 2 to 3 ounces of water. Heat water to under boiling (167 – 176 degrees Fahrenheit / 75 to 80 degrees Celsius), and steep for 90 seconds. Add 30 seconds for each subsequent brew.
Additional Brews?: Yes, 3 to 4 times
Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf
Caffeine Level: Medium
We’ve mentioned before that it’s easy to confuse Japanese Sencha and Chinese Dragon Well green teas. Both are famous for their flattened leaves, which results from each tea’s unique heating process. However, Dragon Well’s leaves are lighter in color. Yezi’s in particular are a bright jade green, like springtime grass. Which would lead you to think that Dragon Well would smell like grass, right?
Nope! Or, at least I don’t smell grass in Yezi’s High Grade Dragon Well. To me, the dry leaves have a seaweed aroma, with a nutty, almost roasted overtone. In fact, the phrase “roasted seaweed” comes to mind. (Not that I’ve ever smelled or eaten roasted seaweed, but I imagine it might smell like this.) It’s intense for a green tea. Some tea lovers might find it too strong for their liking. Yet there’s something fresh about this Dragon Well that reminds me of the beach. Not in a salty or tropical way, but more like the breezy, rocky coasts of Maine on a hot summer’s day.
With that image in mind, I brewed my first cup of Yezi’s High Grade Dragon Well, steeping 2 teaspoons for 90 seconds. Out comes a pale golden-yellow infusion that whispers the same mingling of seaweed and roasted notes. Yes, “whispers.” The liquid’s aroma is not nearly as strong as that of the dry leaf. The taste, however, is noticeably pronounced. Equal parts seaweed and nutty (maybe pistachios?) with hints of grass, this Dragon Well is slightly sweet yet more assertive than a typical green tea. A mild astringency also dries out my tongue once each sip goes down.
Later brews of Yezi’s High Grade Dragon Well taste very similar to Steep #1. Each one smells and tastes of seaweed and pistachio nuts with a toasty-roasty ambiance. Also, if the cup cools long enough, the brew takes on a cinnamon-like aftertaste. It’s neither sugary nor spicy; rather, it’s a happy medium between the two. Some tea drinkers might be put off by the combination. Not me, though. As soon as one cup’s gone, I’m off to make another.
Now, here’s the real reason why I like Dragon Well teas so much: The final brews are brighter and a tad on the fruity side. With Steeps #4 (3:00 minutes) and #5 (3:30 minutes), the original seaweed-nutty presence fades while light citrus notes perk up. I’d describe it as pineapple tinged with grass. And they really are delicious. As much as I liked the bolder previous infusions, these last two might be my favorites of the bunch.
Yezi’s High Grade Dragon Well soars to majestic heights that most green teas don’t reach. Then again, it’s incredibly unique, veering off the beaten path with its fresh, full profile of seaweed, pistachios, and (later on) citrus flavors. It’s such a distinct and rich green tea that it takes some getting used to. I wouldn’t recommend it to green tea newcomers for this reason. However, Dragon Well is a must-try for anyone who enjoys Asian green teas; and since Yezi Tea’s offerings are all of excellent quality, their High Grade Dragon Well is a great place to start.
Grade: 9 / 10
- Tea Drinkers Who: Like green tea
- Time of Day and Year: Afternoons year-round, especially during spring and summer
- Possible Book Pairings: Hearing the words “dragon well” make me think of dragons – especially Danaerys Targaryen’s dragons in George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Fire And Ice saga. Try Yezi’s High Grade Dragon Well with any of the five books out so far, starting with A Game Of Thrones. The tea’s fierce, flavorful presence makes it an appropriate choice for this sweeping and tumultuous epic fantasy series.
You can purchase Dragon Well High Grade Long Jing Green Tea directly from Yezi Tea here.
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In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes book reviews and articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works available in various print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
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