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.

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