Join our Peli Tea Mailing List Shop our selection of premium and  green teas  
Tea Description Story of the Tea Recommendations Reviews Green Tea

High Mountain Dragon Well (高山有机龙井)

Region: High mountain area, Zhejiang, China

Other Names: Dragon Well, Lung Ching, Longjing, Long-Jing, Lung-Ching, Dragonwell, Long Jing, Imperial Tea, Gong Cha, Princess of Green, Royal Tea

Dragon Well or Longjing had its beginnings near the city center of beautiful Hangzhou.  Hangzhou, once the capital of the Song Dynasty, is now the capital of the Zhejiang Province.   Hangzhou is nestled in beautiful mountains and is surrounded by the beautiful West Lake where Longjing’s regal history began.

Dragon Well’s name can be traced back to the name of a spring that once was called Longhong Spring (Dragon Water Spring).  Many scholars believe that long ago during the Three Kingdom Period (SanGuo Period) (220-280AD) Longhong Spring existed as a source of water where the village of Longjing now sits. 

During the Ming Dynasty, in a period when the West Lake area was experiencing a severe drought, the local residents dug a well and found the underground Longhong Spring and a big dragon shaped stone at its bottom.  The residents called their new source of water and the village in which it was found Longjing or Dragon Well after the big dragon stone and the tea grown in this area took on the same name-- Longjing.

Many tea scholars believe that Longjing was first discovered during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).  The first known written record of Longjing is in the Chájīng or Classic of Tea,” believed to be the first scholarly treatise on tea and written by Lu Yu (733-804).  In the Classic of Tea, Lu Yu noted that the Tian Zhu and Ling Yin Temples in Hangzhou produced the tea.

The tea plants from which Longjing was produced may yet have had much earlier beginnings.  A famous Governor of Hangzhou, Su Dong Po (1037-1101) an eminent poet, writer, artist, calligrapher and statesman concluded that the Longjing tea plant originally came from seeds brought to Hangzhou by the poet Xie Lin Yun from Tian Tai Shan during the Nan Bei Dynasties (420-589).  According to Su Dong Po, Mr. Xie planted the tea seeds at the Tian Zhu Temple in the West Lake area while he was working on the Buddha Sutra translation.  If Su Dong Po’s research is correct, the history of Longjing tea may date back more than 1500 years to the Nan Bei Dynasties rather than the Tang Dynasty.

Longjing’s popularity blossomed during the Song Dynasty, when the tea was chosen as a tribute tea for the Emperor and his ruling class to enjoy.  During this period, Su Dong Po wrote a famous poem to praise Longjing for its special fresh tender green look and its long-lasting fresh spring aroma.  Under his signature, a petroglyph, “Lao Longjing” or Old Dragon Well was carved.  This stone carving can still be found on a cliff by the foot of Shifeng (Lion Peak) Hill in the 18 Yu Cha Park (Imperial Tea Trees Park) at the Hu Gong temple in Hangzhou. 

Substantial improvements were made to the processing, refining and grading of Longjing during the Yuan dynasty (l206-l368).  The resulted in enhancing the quality of the tea.  During this period, the tea continued to be primarily enjoyed by the Buddhist monks and as a Tribute Tea for the Emperor and his ruling class.

Longjing’s popularity grew among people throughout China during the Ming dynasty. Additional descriptions about Longjing were documented in “Zhejiang Bian Zhi / Zhejiang History”(JiaJing period, 1522-1566) and “Hangzhou Fu Zhi / Hangzhou History” (WanLi period, 1573-1619) and the legend of how Tiger Run Spring water improved the tea’s taste, “SiShiYouShangLu /Four Seasons Enjoyments” written by GaoLian.

Longjing obtained the status of the most famous tea in China during the Qing Dynasty.  Many poems were written about Longjing during this time.  The famous Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) visited the West Lake Longjing tea gardens at HuGong Temple on four different occasions while on his six trips to the South Yangtze River Area.  Qianlong wrote several poems honoring the tea.  He chose and conferred the imperial status of Yu Cha (Imperial Tea Trees) on eighteen Longjing tea trees from which he once picked fresh tea leaves at the foot of Shifeng (Lion Peak) Hill at the HuGong temple in Hangzhou.

Today the Longjing growing region currently encompasses about 65 square miles and only the tea grown in the West Lake Region can be called Xihu Longjing.  The West Lake Longjing growing area was expanded twice, first in the 1950s and then again in the 1980s.  The oldest part of West Lake is the area that surrounds ShiFeng (Lion Peak) Hill.  The villages in this area have been designated as a National Protected Zone.