Should You Buy The Earliest Harvest Dragon Well Green Tea? – Meimei Fine Teas

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Should You Buy The Earliest Harvest Dragon Well Green Tea?

Should You Buy The Earliest Harvest Dragon Well Green Tea?

Early birds may get the worm, but is this true for early harvest tea? When spring is just around the corner, as early as the first week of March, there are already some new harvest "Dragon Well Green Teas" available for sale, with a lot more flooding into the market this week. But before you jump in for the first-to-arrive freshness, are you aware that the very early arrival Dragon Well green tea is likely not the Dragon Well green tea it claims to be, though they look very similar to uneducated eyes and taste. Wu Niu Zao, or "Early Black Cow" in Chinese, is its name and Yongjia county, which lays 200 miles away from Hangzhou city, is its home. While it takes advantage of the famed "dragon well" name, it is actually a different varietal of green tea, and it carries very different tasting characteristics than the true famed dragon well green tea. 

Dragon well longjing green tea picking standard

This varietal buds in late February to early March, with bushes planted close together and having a high yield. It has short fat buds and the dry leaves look greener than true Dragon well dry leaves. It also tastes more vegetal, while high quality dragon well tastes nutty with strong sweet aftertaste. Dragon well varietals, the most common being #43, are usually harvested 2-3 weeks later than Wu Niu Zao. For additional local perspective, just a few days ago, the Huang Zhou city government agency announced that the initial 2024 harvest of dragon well #43 will be on March 20th, and the Qun Ti Zhong dragon well around March 27th.

Why is Wu Niu Zao green tea marketed to be sold as Dragon Well green tea? Well, market machinery and a drive for profits might be the motivation. As tea lovers ourselves, with a dedication to authenticity, terroir and the highest quality, we would never sell Wu Niu Zao as an early arrival Dragon Well green tea. 

We usually buy the local varietal Qun Ti Zhong in late March or early April before Qing Ming festival or pre-ming each year. After shipping and customs clearance, they are typically available for sale sometime in May. Sure, there are a lot of  companies marketing and taking pre-orders out there for early arrival teas, but I would not rule out that an early Dragon Well is Wu Niu Zao in disguise, or that a vendor may have purchased a very small batch shipped for personal consumption so as to avoid customs clearance delays. 

Dragon well green tea

Victoria is soon heading back to China for the spring harvest. She will be there first hand to seek some great quality dragon well green tea in the high tea mountains of Hangzhou and nearby, Zhejiang province.  Please stay tuned for our spring arrivals. 

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