Dragon Well - the origin of the name

Posted April 27 2016

Dragon Well (or Long Jing) is a famous handcrafted green tea from the coastal province of Zhejiang in South-East China.  Made exclusively by plucking one bud and one leaf or one bud and two leaves, this fine plucking is transformed by the tea artisan, who gives the tea its final shape which has been described as a bird's beak or a swallow's tongue.  While others may try to replicate its distinctive shape, the unique and refreshing taste of the original Dragon Well, with its gentle notes of roasted chestnuts or soybeans, cannot be matched.

 

The "Old Dragon Well" (老龙井). 

The origin of the name Dragon Well is an interesting story, unless you are afraid of dragons that is!  In the small village of Long Jing, there is a famous well known by the locals as the "Old Well.” The well is deep, so very deep that in olden times people believed it was directly linked to the sea. They also believed that a dragon visited from time to time to drink, thereby regulating the well's water level. However beautiful the legend, there is a scientific explanation: if you examine the well after a rainstorm you may observe an interesting phenomenon -- the water in the well is denser than the rainwater. The lighter rainwater thus stays at the surface, creating undulating patterns suggesting the long and sinuous body of a dragon.  Dragons travelling through underground channels of the earth is without a doubt the more romantic of the two explanations.

 In China, a tea's name is often made up of two components: the place where the tea is grown and the type of leaf style. In this case, it is "Xihu Longjing" (or West Lake Dragon Well). Although this is the birthplace of this famous Chinese green tea, the growing area officially recognized as a genuine Dragon Well has significantly expanded over the years. In the next blog post, the second part of the Dragon Well story will explore the different Dragon Well gardens.

Jean La Rochelle April 27th 2016