Every year, around Qingming Festival (beginning of the April), the Xi Hu Longjing tea must be a hot topic in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. A slight exaggeration to say, even in the air exists the fragrance of tea. The Xi Hu Longjing tea with a history of more than 1,300 years is the cultural heritage which is different from the general agricultural products, and its influence has been far more than the tea itself.
Longjing Tea, also known as Dragon Well tea, is a kind of green tea and mainly produced in the central part of Zhejiang province. Among them, Xi hu Longjing from places near the West Lake (Lion peak, Longjing, Yunqi, Hupao, Meijiawu) is the most famous and titled as the China Famous Tea.
According to historical records, the Xi Hu Longjing tea was firstly introduced to Hangzhou 1500 years ago and the unique geography and natural environment of the West Lake is extremely good for the growth of tea; therefore, the Xi Hu Longjing tea becomes well-known for its high quality. In the Qing Dynasty, Chinese Emperor Kangxi even granted it as the Imperial tea.
All what we find in shops are Longjing tea leaves ready to serve, but are you curious about how Hangzhou people frying Longjing Tea? I am. Processing Longjing Tea is a kind of art to some extent. It is complex and changeable. Tea leaves with different grades has different frying technique. Until today, the high-grade Longjing tea is still mainly relied on hand-frying. Now, let’s get into Meijiawu to find methods of processing Longjing Tea.
To process Longjing Tea, there are mainly 10 different methods. If classified in details, there are 12 styles：
1. Dou (抖): to shake the tea leaves to let the moisture given off. This procedure will be used both in the first–panning and the final–panning.
2. Da (搭): to make the tea leaves wider and flatter. Tea-curing masters usually do this when they pour tea leaves into the pot.
3. Tuo (拓): to get the tea leaves in pot in hands and easy to shake, also can make the tea leaves wider.
4. Shuai (甩): to make the tea leaves fall naturally from the edge of the pot to the bottom and make the leaves neat and uniform. Moreover, this action will make the soft tea leaves wrap the bud during the rolling. Mainly used in the first-panning.
5. Na (捺): to make the tea leaves clean and smooth.
6. Zhua (抓): to exchange the inside and outside of the tea leaves and neat the tea cords.
7. Tui (推): to make the tea leaves smooth and flat, only used in the final-panning.
8. Mo (磨): to make the tea leaves smooth and also only used in the final-panning.
9. Ya (压): press the tea leaves by hands to make them smooth and flat, e.g. When the left hand presses the tea leaves and the right hand should press on the left one, vice versa. Ya always used with Mo (磨) and only used in the final-panning, too.
10. Dang(荡): to make the tea leaves neat and orderly.
11. Kou (扣): to make the tea leaves tight and straight.
12. Zha (扎): to make the tea cords tighter and straighter. Used in the first-panning and the final-panning for producing low-grade tea.
During the process of frying Longjing tea leaves, these 12 kinds of frying methods are not supposed to be used separately but combined with each other no matter in the first-panning or the final-panning, high-grade tea or low-grade tea. And they should be applied flexibly and closely match up the duration and degree of the heat. So that the tea leaves will be in straight and neat shape to meet the needs of consumers. What’s more, for frying Longjing tea, not only have to learn these skills, but also to master good gestures, otherwise, it is difficult to fried high-quality Longjing tea.
Frying Longjing Tea is not only a skill, but a culture. And it will last for long. Spring is coming, and the fragrant of the Longjing Tea is in the air, sometimes with the spring rain, all these make the West Lake more elegant and charming. And we are here waiting for you in Hangzhou with Longjing Tea.