Sunday, May 8, 2011

18 Imperial Dragon Well Tea Trees

Located in Hangzhou, not far from Dragon Well Village are the 18 Imperial Dragon Well Tea Trees. The site is awesome and really worth a visit. The site centers around, as the name implies, the 18 imperial tea trees. According to legend, when the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Emperor Qianlong came to Hangzhou on one of his many imperial tours, he visited this very spot and picked tea from these 18 trees. It is said that it was he who helped create the flattened leaf that Dragon Well (Longjing) Tea has. While he was there picking tea, he received message that his mother was deathly ill, and so he quickly shoved the leaves he was picking in his sleeve, and flew to Beijing. Upon arriving at his mother's bedside, she smelled the tea aroma eminating from his sleeves and inquired about it. He had forgotten the tea and it has dried and flattened. He brewed it for his mother and she miraculously recovered and all was well. Nobody knows how much of the rumor is true, but that does not take away from the beauty of the site. The site is backed up to a mountain which is covered with tea trees. Dotting the area are tea houses and tea pavilions. There are place, of all description, to brew tea, which they do for visitors. Climbing the paths up the mountain bring you upon simple pavilions to also drink tea. Although the tea from the 18 tea trees goes straight to the government, they do have some wonderful tea to drink and sell, although it is not cheap to purchase. I highly recommend this site to anyone visiting Hangzhou.

For more photos of this site visit our Flickr Photo Album at:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hangzhou's Dragon Well Tea Plantation

On virtually every single China tour that includes Hangzhou is a stop at the Hangzhou Dragon Well Tea Plantation. Unfortunately, it is a site designed strictly for the selling of fake Dragon Well Tea and souvenirs. I also work in Chinese tourism and I have been there several times on inspection tours. The site is located in the middle of tea fields, but is not connected with them. Although there are some very nice photo opportunities there, that is about all there is. Visitors are dropped off at the entrance and are met by a guide who describes how the tea is picked. They are then shown how the tea is fried before being taken into one of the many tea rooms where they are given tea to drink. After given a sales pitch, the people are lead through a souvenir shop which is the only way to exit the site, and then leave. I found that the tea that is given as a sample is not the same tea you purchase, although you are told it is the same. The tea you are given is much poorer quality. There are a couple of very nice Dragon Well Tea sites in Hangzhou, that should not be missed, like the China National Tea Museum, the 18 Imperial Tea Trees, and the Dragon Well, but this one certainly can be.

For more photos you can check out my Flicker photo album

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hangzhou's Dragon Well

One of the most famous teas on earth, Dragon Well Tea is named after a water well. Located in Dragon Well Village in China's Hangzhou Province, the Dragon Well got its name from an ancient legend. According to this legend, a benevolant dragon lived in the village's well and ensured that the local tea fields had enough water. The village and the tea they produced was named after the well, in honor of the dragon. Although no longer the main water source for the village, the Dragon Well has been preserved and an entire area dedicated to tea and the well have been built around it.

It is a lovely area. The entrance to the area is quite beautiful. It has meandering paths lined with trees and plants and there is a stream running through it filled with koi fish. It occupies a large area with a mountain and it is dotted with tea pavilions and tea houses nestled amongst ancient trees and ferns. Visitors can bring their own tea and sit in one of the pavilions, or can purchase tea in one of the tea houses. It is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.

The well itself is surrounded by a beautiful rockery and the well has a beautiful border that was added during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). There is also a little museum on the site. Few visitors to Hangzhou actually make it to the Dragon Well, but it is very much worth the time.

For more photos you can check out my Flicker photo album