Picked before the early April Qingming festival, celebrating the vibrancy of Spring, Heart of the Dragon is produced from one day’s harvest grown by a single farmer in Fuchunjiang, Zhejiang Province. It’s in this province where the myth of the Dragonwell was born.   

Legend has it, that a village in Zhejiang was suffering through a drought. A priest instructed the villagers to pray to the dragon that lived in a nearby well. They did, the rains came and the village changed its name and its tea to Longjing, or Dragonwell.

Dragonwell is now one of the 10 famous teas of China, but the quality and authenticity of teas sold under this name vary wildly. Location, season, selective plucking and tea-making skill all determine quality. High quality Dragonwell teas are harvested by hand early in the season and expertly pan fried to press the leaves and stop oxidation. The leaves appear uniformly tight and flat, light to dark green in color. The steeped leaves are uniformly light green in color and plump. The aroma is fresh, complex and enticing.

Every year I seek samples of fresh Dragonwell, and unfortunately I've become accustomed to disappointment. Increasing demand for Dragonwell, regardless of quality, has driven up prices and made it more difficult to obtain great examples. Fortunately, 2015 was different. This tiny handmade lot is the best I’ve tasted in years. It’s so good, I had to share it!

The leaves were picked on April 2nd and the tea was made that day by Mr. Huang, a highly skilled local farmer. My source David Lee Hoffman bought the tea on site and brought it along with other select samples on the flight home. When I tasted this tea, I was immediately struck by the fullness, complexity and completeness of the cup. I love it for its rich buttery mouthfeel and its flavor of sweet summer corn and heady hints of sage.

I secured a limited quantity of this special tea and will not be able to get any more, so try it before it’s gone.

In tea,
July 10, 2015 — Rich Avella

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