From Tea Tales to Teatails: Long Jin tea (1)
Words by Marlijn Berendsen & Timo Janse
Photography by Timo Janse
Marlijn, teasommelier, and Timo, master of the cocktail, join forces to bring you the ultimate tea-cocktail merger experience. Dive into the depths with us!
For our first in depth article we turn to Long Jin!
Green, China: Long Jing
What better way to kick off this journey than with one of China’s favorite green teas?
Longjing, literally translated means Dragon Well.
It is grown all over Zheijang province, but according to the tea-afficianado, the good stuff comes from Hangzhou, a medium-sized city of about eight million.
It is picked in the weeks before tomb-sweeping day*, on the 4th or 5th of April. Anything picked after this date is considered a lower grade. A good Dragon Well will give you notes of fresh green vegetables, with a hint of cream and chestnut in the aftertaste. The leaves are pan-roasted by hand in order to stop the oxidization process. If you want to read up a bit more on the production, we refer you to our in-depth article about green tea processing here.
The Tea Tale
As is usual with these ancient Chinese teas, there are many myths surrounding the first appearance and the name of the tea.
Legend goes that emperor Qianlong visited Lion Peak Mountain in Hangzhou on one of his travels and saw some ladies picking the tea leaves at the foot of the mountain. The emperor decided to pick some leaves himself, and stored them thoughtlessly inside his sleeve.
When he arrived at his palace, he went to visit his mother who had fallen ill not long before. She smelled the fragrant leaves inside his sleeves, and asked for them to be brewed. The tea made her feel so refreshed that she believed it had cured her of her ailments!
There are many varieties and six grades to be found of LongJing tea, for this cocktail recipe we are using a Xi Hu LongJing, which is quite a high quality.
As this is a delicate tea with lots of green notes I decided to approach this as green as possible, with a Ti' Punch as a starting point This resulted in a smooth drink that i call:
"Long Jin Silver"
45 ml Clairin Sajous rhum agricole
10 ml Quaglia saffron
7 ml rich sugar syrup
45 ml cold Wi Hu LongJing tea
20 ml lime juice
2 drops Bittered Sling celery bitters
Fill a shaker with the ingredients, shake over ice cubes and fine strain in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a basil leaf and lavender. Proost!
* Tomb-sweeping day, or QingMing, is a little bit like the wholesome Chinese version of Dia de Los Muertos. On this day many Chinese go visit the graves of their ancestors, sweep them and adorn them with decorations. It is also the day where temperatures start rising and rainfall increases, explaining its close relation to tea harvesting.