San Xia Ming Qian Long Jing (三峽明前龍井) is an early spring (pre-Qing Ming) Dragon Well green tea from Sanxia District of New Taipei City in northern Taiwan. Carefully handpicked leaves of the Qing Xin Gan Zi varietal are processed in a style similar to the traditional Long Jing, whereby the leaves are flattened during pan-frying. Unlike traditional Long Jing from Mainland China, the leaves are not flattened completely and are much longer and wirier. The resulting liquor is bright with a smooth sweet taste and creamy vegetal notes. Grown at an altitude of between 300m and 400m, it was hand harvested and processed in March 2021 by the Lee family. You may also be interested in an early spring Bi Luo Chun from the same producer.
Long Jing ‘Dragon Well’ is a classic, and perhaps the most popular Chinese green tea. The original hails from the core Xihu (West Lake) tea growing area in Hangzhou Province. For comparison to the more original versions, we recommend looking at our West Lake Long Jing tea from the Longwu or Wengjiashan. By contrast, this Taiwanese Long Jing from Sanxia District is a little different. It is crafted using machinery that dates back to the Japanese occupation of Taiwan with the processing having gone unchanged for a few generations. The use of the Qing Xin Gan Zi cultivar means that the picked leaves are a little larger when compared to the more classic versions. They also have a longer stalk, resulting in wiry appearance. At the same time, and as would be expected of a classic Long Jing, the leafy part of the dry leaves is still flattened down. Hence this tea has an appearance that is not the same as the usual Mainland Long Jing versions but represents a distinctive Taiwanese take on a classic.
The teas from Sanxia District are largely outliers from other Taiwanese teas in terms of picking standard and production. Unlike many other regions of Taiwan that have distinct harvest seasons and where the leaves are harvested with stalks, utilising the top 2-4 leaves and the bud, the harvest in Sanxia occurs when the leaves are picked every 10-14 days. Only the top leaves and buds are harvested, so the leaves are picked without longer stalks, in a style that is more common with the Mainland Chinese standard of picking. Furthermore, this tea comes from a small cooperative factory of Mr Lee. They work with about 200 very small scale growers in the area who sell their tea leaves to the factory. Depending on the quality and characteristics of each harvest the factory then decides on the best tea to make from each harvest, varying between styles such as Bi Luo Chun or Long Jing for green tea, various types of oolong or by making Hong Cha (red/black tea).
Our San Xia Ming Qian Long Jing consists of long wiry stalks with flattened leaves. The standard of picking is very fine as the leaves are neat and young. It produces a bright clear liquor with a lightly vegetal and nutty aroma. The use of the Taiwanese Qing Xin Gan Zi cultivar translates to some very pleasant floral notes that cannot be normally found in traditional Long Jing. The taste is smooth, without any harshness or astringency. The vegetal profile delivers lightly floral sweet notes that are complimented by more creamy vegetal ones. The aftertaste is clean, but with a mouthwatering effect and a lasting finish that is lightly drying. This is a complex but fresh tea that delivers a great early spring green tea experience.
It is best brewed at 80°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste and should be brewed multiple times, increasing steeping time with each brew if desired.