Saturday, July 07, 2012

Yue Xiang Long Jing

Sheng Shan is located only 1.5 hour bus ride away from Hang Zhou, south east direction, and south of Shao Xing City where Lu You and Tang Yuan exchanged poems at the Shen's Garden.  Zhe Jiang Province is one of the most beautiful places in the world with rich history hence legendary stories are abundant, many of which are sad love stories.  Such as Lu You and Tang Yuan, Liang Shan Bo and Zhu Ying Tai.  Sheng Shan is where Liang Shan Bo and Zhu Ying Tai went to school together, then Zhu developed a strong crush for Liang while Liang believed Zhu was boy.  Well, it's a story I'll write later, let's get back to tea for now.
Sheng Shan produce Long Jing tea for a long period of time, although it is not quite well known as the Xi Hu Long Jing.  An old gentleman Mr. Shan (not the same last name as mine although pronounced the same) who has been in the tea business for 35 years showed us the mountain, treated us a farm meal of true free range chicken, local grown wild vegetables, freshly dug bamboo shoots, and the highlight of all is fresh picked Long Jing tea leaves fried free range chicken laid eggs.  OMG, it was so delicious, I'll remember for the rest of my life!!!!  Yeah, go ahead be jealous.  :P The long jing young leaves were fragrant without bitterness or astringency.  It's young and tender, floral, sweet and I am out of words!   An extremely common and simple dish with an impression of a meteorite attack!  I am going to get a tea plant just so I can have fresh tea leaves to fry eggs.  :D

I ate one of them.. :I

I ate them as well... :P

Mr. Shan is in his late 50's with a heart of a young kid.  He is playful and thus tea trees are his project, tea mountain is his play ground.  In the picture is a flat of Long Jing, a combination of varietals - Qin Ti varietals grown from seeds, hence are not exactly the same by looks and taste.  Because of this combined varietals, the end product is richer and fuller, without the obvious flaws of a single varietal tea product.  You may called it the original and natural blended tea.  Long Jing #43 is an early crop tea compared to the Qin Ti varietal, however Qin Ti LJ is much more desirable than #43 for the taste even though the look is less attractive.  I ate fresh leaves from a few different trees, the slow growth leaves are much tastier than the big fast growing leaves.  High yield crop is not necessary good in terms of quality.

Various color of leaves indicating different varietals.
One of Mr. Shan's play project began with a mutated tree, one of the LJ tree leave turn white and so he crafted branches for propagation, during the years, some keeps on mutating, the leaves were so white, it's whiter than An Ji Bai Cha (it's called white tea, but it is a green tea).  Harvesting only began last year, being the second harvesting year, about 750g finished tea was collected, I got my hands on 250g!!!!  The taste is extremely fresh and MSG!  I finally understand the term Zi Wei - nourishing taste, like chicken soup that soothes your body and soul. 
Shui Jing Bai - Crystal White Long Jing
Delicious and refreshing, exceptional taste!  You may eat the leaves.

Here is a special grade Long Jing made of combined varietals of long jing trees of age over 50 years, they are planted during the 50's when the government ordered the whole country to expand economic plantation to obtain foreign currency.   The most tasty leaves are these dark green, bubbly surface, sharp saw tooth rim, very slow growing leaves.    Unfortunately, single tree or even single varietal processing is not available here.  If opportunity arises, I'd spend a month on the mountain, live on eating fresh tea leaves and make a small batch of selected varietal leaves for my own single varietal LJ tea.  :D  This is my motivation for revisiting China again soon.
Special grade Long Jing
Rich and strong for the first brew, smooth and mellow, very sweet for the next few infusions. 

Both LJs require boiling hot water to open up the flavor!  It can take the heat~~~  Crystal white LJ is very tasty leaving an impressive flavor.  Special grade LJ reveals itself after the first infusion with long lasting sweet after taste.  One is feminine and the latter is a powerful middle aged male then refined later.  :P

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