How to Brew Shi Feng Dragonwell Green Tea

Learn from the expert, herself - Mrs. Li in Longjing!

February 3, 2016

"When you drink tea, steep it light, steep it strong. It doesn't matter. It's your own choice." - Mrs. Li
Click to watchMrs. Li brews her Dragonwell at home

Lifetime tea farmer, Mrs. Li, explains how to brew her Shi Feng Dragonwell green teas.

In general, Mrs. Li recommends sipping your tea from a tempered glass and sipping all day.

To make tea like Mrs. Li does at her home in Dragonwell, you will need a few things:

First, add your tea leaves to your glass.

Next, pour a small amount of water into the glass – until its about 1/3 full – taking care to pour along the side of the glass first. Pouring the water on the side of the glass will cool the water just a little bit before it hits the leaves.

Now, the leaves have a small protective layer of water covering them. Add more water now to fill your glass. If you’d like, you can use a dipping motion as you pour. This motion will agitate the leaves and start them dancing and swirling.

You can start sipping right away. Simply blow the leaves away before you sip, or filter them out with your teeth. Feel free to eat any leaves that sneak into your sip! The cup of tea will get stronger the longer you sip, the longer it steeps and the less water remains in the cup.

Add more water when you get about 2/3 or 3/4 through your cup, and repeat all day. Start again with new leaves after about four hours.

Whatever you do, remember Mrs. Li’s advice: don’t cover your cup!  Brewing uncovered will keep the water temperature cool enough. Covering your cup risks over-steeping your tea.

Want a lighter cup of tea as you sip? Try using less tea leaves, or cooler water. Prefer a stronger, more robust cup of tea? You can use as much leaf as you want, according to your own taste. For example, Mrs. Li’s husband prefers to use about 10 grams of tea in his mug, while Mrs. Li sticks with 5 grams for herself and for guests.

For more brewing tips, you can check out our article on the fundamentals of brewing.

8 Responses to “How to Brew Shi Feng Dragonwell Green Tea”

    • Lily Duckler

      Hi Hillel – that’s true! It’s a popular method, loved and used by everyone from taxi drivers and students to life-long farmers like Mrs. Li and her husband. I agree – it’s often a lovely way to enjoy teas for hours, and works especially well for flat-pressed green teas like Dragonwell.

      Happy sipping!

    • Lily Duckler

      Hi Brian!

      So glad to hear that you’re having fun brewing like a Longjing local! You can definitely experiment and try this brewing style with other teas. Personally, I will often brew Laoshan Green this way (though it doesn’t mind being exposed to air in the same way Dragonwell does). When I’m traveling, I will often bring Tieguanyin or Wuyi oolong and brew them loose in a mug or a cup in a similar manner, just letting them steep over the course of several hours as I sip from the cup.

      This follows along with the general idea I use whenever I brew any tea. The higher the leaf-to-water ratio, the less time I will need to steep the leaves for my brew to reach the strength I want. If I use a lower leaf to water ratio, I’ll need to brew for a longer period of time to reach that same intensity (and this in a nutshell is Western brewing in a big tea pot!). However, the same idea applies to letting tea brew loose in a cup – if I’m brewing a non-Dragonwell tea, I’ll use a lower leaf to water ratio (a sprinkling of leaves in a big mug), and then I can let the leaves brew all day without worrying about bitterness or overstepping. The water also cools throughout the day, which slows the speed of infusion.

      I’ve had great luck using this style for practically every tea in our collection, including Qianjiazhai sheng pu’er! I hope you have fun experimenting. While it may not be the best method for evaluating a back-to-back tasting or a great number of teas and exploring complex aftertaste and aroma as it unfolds throughout multiple steepings, it can be a great relaxed way to brew, especially while working or traveling.

    • Lily Duckler

      Good question! The answer is: “it depends.” Some teas are very fluffy, so 5g of tea may take up several tablespoons; other teas are twisted, rolled and compact, so 5g could take up just a teaspoon of space.

      Mrs. Li’s Dragonwell teas are pressed flat, which means they are somewhere between “fluffy”and “compact.” Five grams of her tea take up a little more than a tablespoon (depending on the shape of your spoon). If you want to try her recommended method and do not have a kitchen scale, I suggest doing two to three generous “pinches” in a tall tempered glass tumbler.

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