Recently, my parents-in-law came to visit us from Beijing. We showed them our tea shop and with cautious curiosity they reviewed our tea selection, asked carefully how it was going, inspected our storage place. I assumed that they would work their way through our entire assortment tasting each tea, but I was wrong. They remained loyal to their beloved Long Jing. Long Jin, Long Jin, Long Jin, day in, day out. Every morning, as I staggered sleepy into the kitchen, there stood this narrow, tall glass jar with its lid next to it – the cup of my mom-in-law. Content: Long Jing. Also, a wide mug with the picture of a cow, on one side the front, on the other its bum – the mug of my father-in-law (formerly mine). Content: Long Jing. There they stood, with the leaves in the water, steeping for at least half an hour. When I came home in the evening, I found the same mugs with the same leaves, full again, I don’t know for how many times already. The tea tasted almost like water, but for my parents-in-law the most important was that there were tea leaves in it. It was interesting to see that they were not overly demanding on the tea they brought for their own supplies from Beijing. It just had to be Long Jing. It was, as always, of moderate quality, to my taste a bit too tart, when steeped a little too long, but still delicious to Crème brûlée! In any case, Long Jing was and still is an elementary and essential part of my parents-in-law everyday life – a habit, ritual, tradition.
At least since this last visit of my parents-in-law Ning-Ning and I are hooked by Long Jing as well. In addition to the medium quality tea they brought for their own needs, my parents-in-law also brought a very high-quality Pre-Ming West Lake (Xi Hu) Long Jing for us from the garden of Uncle Han, a close family friend in Hangzhou. We are offering this tea in our shop as West Lake Treasure where we already have lots of information on the tea as well as a link to a short external review, so I will be frugal in the description of the tea here. Only so much: It is sweeeeeet and very gentle – the difference to the average Long Jing is unmistakable. The tea is sold on the Chinese market at a high price so that export doesn’t really pay off for Uncle Han. Nevertheless we hope to get more of it next year using our family bonus and offer it as a core product in our shop. Hmmm, which tea animal will it be?
In the event that you are interested in our West Lake Treasure or have already bought it in our shop, here is a simple step-by-step guide for the preparation of this tea:
The instructions, including the preparation parameters, are fine-tuned on our West Lake Treasure, but can also be applied to other Long Jing teas either unchanged or with only slight modifications.
- Tea-water ratio: 1g / 50ml
- Water temperature: 80-85°C
- Steeping time: 2min / 3min / 5min
- Use 4g tea leaves for 200ml of water.
- Pre-warm your glass with hot water, place the leaves in the empty, preheated glass. Keep in mind that if you use a cold glass, the water temperature drops significantly faster.
- Boil water and allow to cool to 80-85°C. Green teas like Long Jing prefer a slightly cooler temperature than more oxidised teas.
- Pour the 80-85°C hot water onto the leaves until the glass is filled to 1/4.
- Swivel the glass gently in a circular motion for about 30s, so that all leaves get enough contact with the water. This is called the “awakening of the tea” and serves for faster taste development. While the first leaves are already sinking in the water, you can enjoy the fragrance of the tea.
- Now it is time to add more water (about 150ml) to fill the glass. You can now observe the tea leaves slowly sinking, rising and sinking again. It is very reminiscent of a dance and always acts meditating on me.
- After about 2 minutes the first infusion is ready and you can enjoy it. However, leave about 1/3 of the first infusion for the second infusion in the jar.
- Re-pour 150ml of 80-85°C hot water into the glass and steep it for three minutes.
- Repeat The same process with a higher steeping time for the third infusion. This tea can be steeped 3 times.
- Use soft water for the preparation of Long Jing. The quality of the water is essential for the taste of the tea.
- In China, tender green teas like Long Jing are usually served in a long glass, mainly for the visual experience. You can also use a teapot, a Gaiwan or a mug.
Our West Lake Treasure is one of our favourite teas. My first words after I had tried this tea for the first time were: “How much do we have of it? We need more!” Its fragrance is reminiscent of sweet orchids, fresh grass and slightly roasted chestnuts. The infusion is very gentle, refreshing and full-bodied, with delicate nutty notes and pine-like nuances, a light floral character and a sweet, long lasting aftertaste. This Long Jing has raised our standards a whole lot. We will definitely try to secure a batch for us next year.
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