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Longjing tea is named after a small town near Hangzhou city in Zhengjiang Province of China. The name "long jing" translates as "dragon well" in English, and this green tea sometimes goes by that name.
There are seven grades of Longjing tea. The best is graded "Superior" (qiqiang), followed by "Special" (queshe), and then grades 1 to 5 in decreasing quality. This system of grading Longjing tea was set by the Chinese Government to standardize the production of Longjing tea.
Superior grade Longjing tea is picked during a very short period between Qing Ming and Great Rain (April 5 to April 21). After picking, the tea leaves are pan-fried to halt the oxidation. As most green tea is steamed, frying the tea leaves is one reason for the special quality of Longjing tea.
The soil where Longjing tea is grown is slightly acidic and is high in phosphorous. The topography of the area serves to trap the moist air and clouds while creating a barrier against cold winter air from the north. These conditions are ideal for tea.
Varieties of Longjing Tea
There are several varieties of Longjing tea, the most common of which are:
- Xi Hu Longjing tea - grown in a designated area near West Lake (Xi Hu) in Zhejiang Province. This variety is also known as "West Lake Lonjing Tea" and is the most famous and expensive of all the Longjing tea varieties.
- Qian Tang Longjing tea - produced just outside the Xi Hu Longjing designated area, in Qian Tang. It is generally not as expensive as Xi Hu Longjing.
- Bai Longjing tea - produced in An Ji in Zhejiang Province. It is not a true Longjing tea but rather a Bai Pian tea. It is named "Bai" (white) because the leaves of the tea plant turn whitish green in the spring time. Bai Longjing tea contains higher concentration of amino acids so is beneficial for relieving stress by controlling coritisol levels.
- Mei Jia Wu Longjing - grown in the Mei Jia Wu village in Zhejiang Province. This is a famous tea that can command high prices.
- Shi Feng Longjing - grown on Shi Feng mountain in Zhejiang Province.
Heath Benefits of Longjing Tea
Longjing tea is a green tea, and green tea is beneficial to our health in a number of ways. Green tea is high in antioxidants which protect us from many diseases such as cancer and heart disease. In addition, Longjing tea is used in traditional Chinese medicine as an overall elixir with specific healing properties for treating food poisoning, preventing cavities, fighting viruses, controlling high blood pressure, and lowering the blood sugar level.
Video - Tea Terraces near Hangzhou