Sleeper Train Adventures: Longjing Village and Dragon Well Tea
We started off our first full day in Hangzhou eating breakfast at our hotel. It was nice to finally have a day where we didn’t have to wake up and rush somewhere. This was the part of the trip that I had planned the least. I only had one goal for the last leg of this trip:
Find a place to pick tea
Thankfully there were hotel umbrellas because there was a high chance of rain. The overcast sky ensure that it was cool enough to make our walk easier, but it did not bode well for my chances of comfortable tea picking.
We decided to walk down to the China National Tea Museum first because it was close to our hotel. That way we could wait out the rain and learn about my favorite drink! The view from the mountains was just amazing.
The China National Tea Museum
The China National Tea Museum is the only museum dedicated to tea in the whole of mainland China, so it was a must-do. Unfortunately for us there were buses of school children on field trips so a majority of or stroll was trying to avoid children. But, we learned so much about the tea making process and it’s use around the world.
Luckily the sun came out for a while so we could explore the beautiful paths up the surrounding mountain.
Our hotel location was perfect. It took us no time to get to the Tea Museum and it was just a little walk from there to Longjing Village. This is what I had been waiting for. To sip on some tea while I’m surrounded by tea leaves. Heaven on Earth.
As you walk in to Longjing Village, there are plenty of people out with their stands selling Longjing or inviting you to eat at their restaurant. The rain was done for the day so, since we didn’t have to worry planning our tea fields walk around the weather, we stopped for lunch. The older lady who called us over to her restaurant on the hill was really kind and patient with me as I tried to interpret the menu. At last I got what I wanted. The world-renowned Longjing tea.
On the days before Qingming holiday, which was right before we arrived in Hangzhou, the first harvest of the season takes place. Some of this top quality, first pick, Longjing tea could sell for as much as $100 an ounce. Unfortunately, I missed being able to see the processing of this tea, which is all done by hand. The tea is roasted in iron pans and then folded and flattened. Next year this is my goal. I used this trip to scout out the area. Unfortunately my hotel, and neighboring hotels, are ALREADY booked for Pre-Qingming.
Why else is Longjing tea so sought after? Well, according to legend, during the Qing Dynasty there was a emperor who visited Hangzhou and drank Longjing tea. He loved it so much he declared 18 tea bushes under imperial protection.
Longjing tea is also known as Dragon Well tea. It could take this name for many reasons- for the Dragon believed to live in the village, for the name of the temple where the tea is planted, or for the dragon shape that appears in the well water it rains.
I didn’t find a place to pick tea on this day and I only had one more on the terraces. I was determined to get that experience. I tried not to be too bummed out about it though, things always happen when they are meant to.
Thankfully, the girls at the hotel were cooking later that night while I was in bed wallowing in my sorrows. A message asking me if I wanted to try some sweet porridge followed by a knock on the door, made my evening. That sweet porridge was medicine for the soul. Luckily Jackie was asleep so I was able to eat her bowl too. The next day was a new day, and I was ready for the experiences it would provide