Our 2016 Pre-Qing Ming Longjing Meijiawu Village tea is, we think, quite spectacular without being in the stratosphere price-wise. This was a cold, long winter and spring in Zhejiang Province where this tea is made (there was snow was on the tea bushes just a few weeks ago!). From tasting the tea we realized that this tough weather has accentuated the character of the tea and has given it a rich complexity of flavor. This is one of the most flavor-packed Meijiawu Village Longjings that we have ever tasted!
The hard spring damaged most of the earliest leaf that the tea makers would have used, so that leaf was plucked and destroyed. The tea makers needed to wait another week or so to pluck the next round of emerging leaf. Because of this timing, the leaf is a bit larger than usual. And, the tea has more flavor and more lush, buttery-ness in the cup than Longjing usually has. It is also bulkier by weight, so a slightly larger volume measure is required to scoop 3 grams.
Early spring days and cold weather (but not necessarily snow!) is a terrific combination for yielding delicious tea that is full of fresh vitality and flavor. Our tea was made on March 22nd, the date when plucking began in the Meijiawu tea harvesting area this spring. The tea was then air-shipped to us immediately.
Tea Trekker’s 2016 Longjing Meijiawu Village tea has the classic flavor profile that we look for in our premium green teas. This year we find the expected toasty, nutty, biscuit-y, chestnut-y, sweet Longjing flavor, although this season there is significantly more toastiness in the leaf and buttery-ness in the mouthfeel than we expect in such an early pluck.
This batch of 2016 Pre-Qing Ming Longjing Meijiawu Village tea delivers more flavor than usual, something that tea enthusiasts who find PQM Longjing to be too light in taste will appreciate. The aroma is soft and sweet and has those elusive fresh green bean / vegetal notes that make this tea instantly recognizable as Longjing Meijiawu Village tea.
Longjing is one of China’s Famous Teas and is the most sought after of the Chinese pre-Qing Ming green teas.
Why? Because in addition to demand for these teas from the West, demand is increasing in China from its newly affluent domestic middle class. Yes, many adult Chinese are only now discovering the scope of China’s famous teas and various aspects of their unique tea culture. As crazy as this sounds, Chinese tea drinkers are now competing with everyone else for their own tea, and this is creating pricing pressure on seasonal teas that are already only produced in limited quantities.
We believe that our tea enthusiast customers will find this tea very pleasing. Pre-Qing MIng Longjing teas are light and delicate in flavor (sometimes ‘ethereal’ in nature) and fragrant and sweet. Chinese tea drinkers appreciate the subtle delicacy of such tender young leaves – Pre-Qing Ming teas are only made in a short window of a few weeks time and the sweetness that they possess is only found in these early season teas.
We are selling this tea two ways again this year – in our usual 2, 4, 8 and 16 ounce quantities and also in 500 gram (17.6 oz) paper parcels that are factory packed and stamped with an authenticity seal, year stamp and date of harvest stamp. The tea that we have is all from the same batch and from the same single tea farm no matter how you purchase it – we requested some of these factory-marked packages for customers who would like to purchase this tea in its original pack. This package, which is for the domestic China tea market, is shown in the photos above.
The origin of authentic Longjing is the West Lake (Xi Hu region) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Longjing is a protected tea (protected against counterfeit ‘Longjing’ made somewhere else in China, or anywhere) and can only legimately come from one of the places located within the National Designated Protected Zone. Our Longjing is ‘authentic Longjing’ which means that the tea is made from Longjing #43 tea bushes.
This zone is a scant 168 kilometers in area, and all Longjing tea manufactured there is sold under the name of the region or village in which the tea was plucked. The original production zones were named Lion, Dragon, Cloud ( Meijiawu Village), Tiger, and Plum. Today, the names have changed, but the most important harvesting areas for production of authentic Longjing in the Xi Hu region are the same: Shi-feng Shan; Longjing Village; Meijiawu Village; Weng-jia Shan
This year we had the opportunity to purchase Longjing from 3 of the 4 authentic tea harvesting areas: Shi Feng, Meijiawu Village and Weng-jia Shan.
Being able to taste these three choice Longjings in a comparative tasting is a rare opportunity for those who are interested in tasting the effects of terroir. Or in this case, the subtle difference / similarity of same-name products made from different farms using the same tea-making techniques within the same region.
Because of the effects of terroir on the final characteristics of tea grown within the region, this tea is similar to but different than the Shi Feng and the Weng-jia Shan Longjings. All have a similar appearance – some are greener, some have a slightly more elongated leaf and bud plucks, some have a bit more early spring ‘down’ on the leaf, etc – and the flavors are similar but different, too.
These differences are small, not big; they are subtle, not overblown. It is a matter of degree in the sweetness and toastiness, and the amount of mouthfeel, intensity of flavor and the length and strength of the finish. These Longjings present the tea drinker with lovely variations on an elegant theme.
Like a Bordeaux wine tasting, one can conduct a tea tasting of our 2016 Longjings and happily ruminate on the results with a group of like-minded tea enthusiasts.
Do not dally in placing your order – our supplies are extremely limited for this Pre-Qing Ming Longjing, and once the tea farmers sell out of it in China it will not be possible to obtain more this year.
Pre-Qing Ming teas are the first teas plucked each new spring season. Depending on the location and altitude in each tea producing region, leaf plucking can begin as early as the middle week of March and continue until April 5th.
Pre-Qing Ming teas command the highest prices because the demand for these teas outpaces the supply each year. This is especially true for the Famous Teas such as Long Ding and Longjing, and the fever for these teas hits in China as well as in the West.
Want to know more?
What is Tea Leaf ‘Fuzz’?
China’s Famous Tea