TASTING a nice cup of Longjing (dragon well) tea while traveling in Hangzhou should be as much part of your itinerary as savoring a glass of wine if you’re in Bordeaux. Longjing tea is one of China’s best green tea varieties and grows in and around Hangzhou.
Tasting tea and wandering around tea plantations are year-round activities, but only in spring will you get to watch how farmers pick the tea buds by hand and how workers turn the fresh tea into dry leaves.
So when the tea bushes begin to bud, it’ time to plan a trip to Hangzhou, the homeland of Longjing tea.
To help you with some of the preparation, we’ve collected some tips on how to taste the tea.
Firstly, locals drink Longjing tea out of glass or porcelain cups. Only cheap tea is served in paper cups. Secondly, water of around 80 degrees Celsius is the best to brew the dry leaves, because it is just hot enough to stretch the dry leaves, but not hot enough to damage its nutritional value.
Thirdly, Longjing tea should be a clear liquid with a refreshing smell, and the leaves must be tender, with a light green color. It is the best if those leaves stand erectly in the water.
Green tea tastes slightly bitter, but adding sugar or milk to the expensive Longjing tea is not suggested.
Planning a route to visit the tea village is simple. There are 10 tea villages in the city, all lie west of the West Lake. So put on your sports shoes and cherish the spring breeze on the hiking and cycling routes we’ve compiled for you.
Route 1: Manjuelong Road — Wengjia Hill — Longjing Road
Manjuelong Village is known for its thousands of osmanthus trees and hills covered in tea groves that bud in spring. At the crossing of Hupao and Manjuelong roads there are several paths that lead to hostels and guest houses that cater to the growing number of visitors.
Dozens of restaurants line Manjuelong Road, from expensive Japanese cuisine to affordable local dishes.
Keep walking to the west or catch bus No. 87 and get off at China’s Tea Museum Longjing Branch, which lies at one of the best parts of Wengjia Hill. It’s a combination of Chinese traditional architect and modern teahouse.
Leaving the museum and walking westward, one will arrive at the source of Longjing tea, Longjing Village. Slopes of tea groves are all over, shimmering under sunshine. Farmers, with bamboo hat, pluck fresh buds, while workers aside fry them into dry leaves.
Walk into the village welcoming visitors are abundant tea houses and restaurants run by locals.
Route 2: Lingyin Road — Meijiawu
If you are staying around Lingyin Temple, then tea bushes must be around your residence place. We suggest you take a tour around Fayun Anman, a resort merging stunning landscape and traditional Chinese architect.
Only paying guests are allowed to go inside, but visitors can tour its surroundings. There’s a organized coddle path zigzagging through a stream and passed a waterfall, as well as a tea house and restaurant.
Lingyin Road is ideal for biking and connects with Meijiawu, also home to great Longjing tea.
Meijiawu features a tea farm, teahouses and restaurants run by local farmers with authentic Longjing tea and Hangzhou dishes. If you would like do what locals do, then order a glass of tea and some nuts, and sit in a chair facing the tea plantations.
If you want to cycle more, then head southward to Jiuxi, another tea village boasting tea bushes as well as lofty trees and a dozen of streams, leave the chaos of the city far behind.
Source: Shanghai Daily