Review of Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea

AromaFlavorValueTotal
8 of 105 of 52 of 580 of 100
ExcellentExcellentOverpriced

Update: I sampled this tea again and while I still preferred the Ming Qian variant, I think the difference was a little smaller this year. I enjoyed both of this year's (2016) teas better than my memories of the previous year, although they were all consistently good in both years.

Original review:

This is now the fifth long jing or dragon well that I've reviewed from TeaVivre. I strongly preferred the Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian, which I reviewed last year, to this one, and even slightly preferred the lower "Superfine" grade.

The dry leaf of this tea smelled amazing. The leaf looks thicker than most dragon well; more three-dimensional. Upon brewing especially, the leaves and buds become thick and juicy looking.

I find it requires more leaf than I would expect, however, to produce a flavorful cup.

Brewed stronger (using well over 1 teaspoon and steeping for five minutes) the results were good. Very grassy aroma, and a strong umami (savory) flavor, with a balance of a slight sweetness and slight bitterness. Tastes delicate even when brewed strongly. Aroma is floral, almost orchid-like. Very pleasing, but not terribly complex. In the finish, there are a few tones suggesting cinnamon and a slight burnt quality.

Slightly finicky; much dragon well tastes fine if brewed casually with boiling water, but this tea took on an unpleasant spinachy quality, as well as a faint metallic tone, if the water was too hot, so I recommend staying on the low side, below 180F.

I liked steeping on the long side, but I found that my ability to do this was limited by the savory / umami flavor, which got to be a bit too much for me if it was steeped too long. Maybe this is a sign that this tea is high in L-theanine.

Brews a second cup, requiring a long steeping (5-8 min) to get a strong enough cup. There was still enough flavor for a third cup, but I needed to steep it even longer. It's amazing to me how slow this tea infuses. This makes it easy to control the cup's strength, but I found there was a narrow range of strength in which I found this tea was at its best. It was still tricky to brew the way I liked.

This is an exceptionally pricey tea; it's $34 for 50 grams. The Ming Qian organic long jing, to compare, which I actually liked better, was only $24 for that quantity, about 30% less. I may also even prefer the Organic Superfine to this one, which is less than half the price, $14 for 50g. This tea was good but just didn't wow me: it required a lot of leaf to get the strength I wanted, it was finicky about brewing, and it lacked the complexity that some of the other teas had. I still can say that all of TeaVivre's long jing teas have been top-notch, but I think I prefer all of the others I've tried to this one.

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