Located in Zhejiang Province in China, within Hangzhou City, lies a village nestled at the base of Wengjia Mountain known as Long Jing. The name of this village literally translates into “Dragon Well,” and it is home to what has become one of the most famous green teas in the world. But did you ever wonder how this tea (and village) got its name?
The production of Dragonwell tea dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), giving this particular green tea an impressively long history. Even then, it was prized for its unique appearance and taste, grown under near ideal conditions with spring water flowing from nearby West Lake and the mountains protecting the area from the cold, northern winds.
But the name Dragonwell predates the tea, belonging first to the village. The name comes from the fact that near the base of Wengjia Mountain sits a deep well filled with spring water from West Lake. Colloquially, it is called “The Old Well” or “Old Dragon Well.”
As it turns out, in ancient times, the locals were unaware of the depth of the well, and because they were unable to see its complete natural structure, they believed that the water flowed in through a subterranean channel that connected it to the sea. When there was a storm, the rain water that landed in the well had a different density and temperature from the well’s water, and this created swirling and undulating effects that looked as if there was a dragon in the water, much like how people think they see Loch Ness.
This was good news! Dragons were revered in the East much like angels in the West. They were considered beautiful, noble, wise, decisive, and even ambitious. To see one was auspicious, especially here where it would have been seen as protecting the village and helping the locals. In fact, the locals believed it was drinking the water to regulate the level of the well for them. Whenever it was finished, it would travel back out into the sea through the underground channel.
It’s ironic that the tea was named after the village where it grew rather than the myth of old dragon well. In a way, when the water is poured over the tea leaves in the cup, glancing from above feels as though one is looking at dragons swirling around in a well. Hopefully meditating on this image while we sip our tea brings us the same fortune as the locals.
Whether it was because of the dragon or not, the water in this village is outstanding, and it is one of the reasons why this green tea has proven so elusive to duplicate elsewhere. The liquor produced is a charming, almost ethereal green, and the intoxicating, unforgettable aroma of sweet chestnut is simply inimitable.
When you prepare your next cup of Dragonwell tea, we invite you to look down into the well for the dragons swirling in the water so that you, too, can partake of the good fortune they offer!