Longjing is without a doubt China’s best known green tea and it is grown by the side of the West Lake in Hangzhou, just a few minutes drive from General Yue Fei’s tomb that I wrote about in my last post. I decided to visit the Longjing village to try the tea at its source, as well as to hopefully visit some plantations.
I arrived at the Weng Family Village, one of fours villages in the Longjing village area which produces the authentic tea. Walking through the village its immediately apparent the wealth here; for a Chinese village the houses are built incredibly well, and there were expensive cars parked outside every one. Towards the top of the village is a well, the sign explained that it was the original Dragon Well, from which Longjing takes its name (longjing means dragon well in Chinese). Several old women sat on a bench next to the well, and as soon as I approached they got out their buckets, asking me if I wanted to wash my hands and face with the water. Nothing comes free in this world, and it seemed odd how pushy they were offering these buckets “for free”, so I politely refused them. They then started pestering me to go and buy tea at one of their shops. I left, and continued to stroll, hoping to find a decent shop where I could try the local tea without being pestered.
I was in luck, I chose one quiet looking shop at random, and this old lady was sitting inside with a sweet smile. She invited me to try some tea, and I could immediately tell she was different. It turned out that she was a member of the Weng family, and had been growing tea for generations. Her husband was the tea master, and she was in charge of running the shop. She also told me I was smart for not touching the well, as althought it was the real Dragon Well, the water inside was currently polluted as so many people had moved into the village and built substandard bathrooms that essentially pumped sewage straight into it! These were the same people pestering visitors at the well in question!
I tried her green tea, as well as a Longjing black tea…. something I never even knew existed! It was really good though; a light and fresh black tea, very different to your normal Chinese blacks. Anyway, I will leave it there, and let you enjoy the video of my trip there.
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