Friday, October 30, 2009

Review Series Green Tea 3: Mighty Leaf Organic Green Dragon (pouch) 2009

Things have changed since I last ventured to use a teabag. Mighty Leaf uses a nylon bag (presumably scent free), in which they place their "Organic Green Dragon," which is their title for Longjing (Lung Ching), which is typically known as Dragonwell in the Western world. It's description, found on their Web site, reads,

An organic dragonwell green tea from China (also known as Lung Ching), our Organic Green Dragon envelops the whole palate with a slightly sweet, very refreshing liquor. A classic wok-fired chinese green tea, it has a delicate chestnut like flavor, captivating aroma, and a lovely yellow-green color. Whole loose leaf green tea fills our silken tea pouch, our gourmet tea bag twist, to infuse the senses.

Longjing is one of the great Tribute Teas of China, and it's almost always placed on the list of 10 Famous Teas. These teas were given in tribute to the Emperor, who got first pick and distributed it at his will among his loyal followers. A longjing tea is nothing to sneeze at.

Longjing is typically supposed to come from West Lake, a region in China famous for this tea. Leaves from this region will fetch a high price, and the very best leaves still never leave China, but are kept for the leaders in their government. One problem with purchasing a longjing is that leaves grown all over China can be labeled, "Longjing," even if they are what Chinese would typically think of as being not quite kosher. One thing that makes longjing teas unique is their processing, where specially trained tea wranglers (so to speak) will wok-fry the leaves in a tiny amount of tea tree oil, and they use the "Ten Movements," which are a series of hand movements (typically 10, but can be more or less, depending on who is doing it) to form the leaves into careful, flat spears.

In addition, the early, pre-Ming Festival leaves demand the highest price, and leaves plucked after that date are often discounted as not being quite top-drawer.

Now, Mighty Leaf does not identify when their tea was plucked (though I must presume 2009), nor the location of origin (other than "China"). I would suggest to them, if they are in possession of this information, that they might wish to provide it on the Web site, to help sell their product.

When I drink a longjing, I look for a bright, fragrant cup with a lovely yellow, pure character. I hope the leaves will be bright and fresh looking, and in pretty good shape, to avoid bitterness.

The Web site suggests steeping the sachet 2-3 minutes in 170 to 180F water. I chose 80C (176F) as being a good average, and for the full 3 minutes, in a glass pot (very happily provided by Jing Tea).

For this cup, I couldn't really see how the leaves were formed, because they were in the tea bag, though I could see a bit of broken leaf. The wet leaves had a pleasant enough aroma, though rather faint. The liquor is pure yellow-gold. The flavor is grassy with a hint of an acerbic, herbaceous quality I find appealing, and which I've missed for several long months, as I've been drinking other teas.

Ultimately, though, I find the Organic Green Dragon to be rather flat and disappointing. I do not know if it's because of the leaf itself, or because it's been placed in a sachet for convenience sake, or because of deficiencies in my own steeping. I love longjing, and I wanted this to be brighter and much more fragrant than it ultimately was. Again, I enjoyed the flavors and aroma, but I wanted more of them in the cup, on my tongue, and in my nose.

(Cross-posted on


Marlena said...

I was just reading about wok firing with tea oil - just fascinating - the Heiss book. Loved your picture