Archive for Longjing
Hangzhou at Holiday or National Day here in China (see News story in the China View) is an experience in crowd control.Â If you have every been in South Beach Florida during Spring break you will know what I am talking about.Â Disneyland could not be busier on the 4th of July than the West Lake district of Hangzhou during National Day festivities that are just beginning here in China.
“October 1st in the year 1949 Chairman Mao declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China and waved the first five-star PRC flag. The PRC’s National Day was declared at three o’clock on October 1, 1949, in front of 300,000 people during a ceremony in Tian’anmen Square” according to an About.com news story.
Traveling to Hangzhou from shanghai a day before the National Day was pleasant with relatively light traffic and overcast sky’s.Â Arriving in Hangzhou the weather in the West Lake district was decidedly cooler than Shanghai which was a treat.Â The following day, Monday, was the beginning of the National Day week holiday season and travel within the city slowed appreciably.Â The grid lock in the intersections between the buses and cabs with the pedestrians that are constantly criss-crossing the streets was chaos for drivers.Â Fortunately, traveling up Longjing Road to the hillside above Hangzhou was less of a mess than the traffic jams down by the lake proper.Â We were able to visit a local tea farm for lunch and enjoy a lazy cup of Longjing tea at 50 RMB a cup!Â The exchange rate is for the yen is 6.75 RMB to a U.S. dollar currently so figure that at about 7 bucks a cup twice the expense of a Starbucks coffee.
As I mentioned in a previous post, West Lake Dragon Well tea, grown on the hills surrounding the city, is Hangzhouâ€™s specialty. From growing it to writing poetry about it, Hangzhou green tea is consumed almost everywhere throughout China and abroad being highly prized where ever tea effectionados gather. Longjing can be ordered on-line from a very good tea shop in Arizona called Seven Cups.
High grade Dragon Well is expensive often displayed in luxury shops like jewelry. Yet many of the poorest local people consider drinking green tea a necessity.Â Hangzhou’s Longjing display’s its brilliant emerald green spears like leaves, especially in the Spring, boasting about three quarter inch long spikes.Â These treasured leaves are renowned throughout China for their beauty.Â Just recently I discovered that Longjing tea has 7 grades, really!Â So even the poorest can afford a lower grade of green tea.Â Tea made into tea bags is the leavings and sweeping of the sticks off of the floor, junk really for the uninitiated.Â There is a very good description of Longjing Dragon Well tea found at TeaGenius.com
Some of the data I gathered about the very long history of tea culture in Hangzhou was highlighted when Hangzhou was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty 1127 – 1279. The Teahouses of Hangzhou are reported to have been decorated with fresh flowers and famous paintings to create a place of relaxation and pleasure for the guests at the tea house. Besides rare varieties of green teas, plum wine was served in the winter.Â What raised the Longjing Dragon Well green tea to be the most famous of Chinese green teas was the esteem of an eighteenth century emperor who visited Hangzhou and appointed a small patch of 18 tea trees to be his special tea garden.Â See the Teagenous for more infomation on Hangzhou green tea.