Spring is here!
Li Xiaoping in Dragonwell picked her first tea on March 8th this year, several weeks earlier than usual thanks to a warm and early spring coming to the mountains of Shi Feng. Typically the prized pre-Qingming picking doesn’t happen until mid to late March, so this is a remarkable year, with unique weather that Li Xiaoping says made for sweet, rich, aromatic tea.
photos courtesy of Li Xiaoping, March 2022
Li Xiaoping’s daughter and granddaughter came to help this year, bringing the whole family together, while Shui Huaimin hand-pressed and fired the fresh tea on his wok, relying on decades of experience to lock in the vibrant flavor without applying too much heat.
Classic Dragonwell harvests followed the first pickings around March 17th and 18th, making them incredibly early pre-Qingming pickings, packed with classic Dragonwell minerality and fresh flavor.
With the Dragonwell harvest complete, Li Xiaoping and her family get to enjoy a well-deserved break. Mrs. Li is adamant on only picking her plants in early spring and allowing them to rest for the whole summer and autumn, ensuring the richest most flavorful harvests, but keeping her yield preciously low.
We’ve reserved as much Dragonwell as possible, and we are getting it packed up and shipped from our office in Laoshan to the US asap. We hope to be sipping it here no later than May.
Historically, early season Dragonwell tends to sell out on pre-order before arrival, so if you want to taste it fresh, be sure to reserve your portion of the harvest! We’ll prep your box and forward it on the day it arrives.
- 2022 Shi Feng Longjing #43Dragonwell varietal #43 has been carefully bred and selected in the last fifty years as a new tea well suited to Shi Feng’s terroir. It buds earlier and in colder weather than classic Longjing Qunti varietal and yields yellower plumper buds that make for gorgeous steeping in glassware. While classic Dragonwell is all about rocky mineral texture, the new #43 is a crisp, bright focused experience centered around stronger flavor and aroma and more pronounced sweetness. Mrs. Li’s #43 varietal is true Shi Feng Dragonwell, growing on one of the highest slopes of the tiny microclimate that Emperor Qianlong declared as one of the best in the world for tea. The soil is full of quartz and white sand while the water comes from natural mountain springs, yielding a flavor that simply can’t be matched outside of Shi Feng itself.
- 2022 Shi Feng Dragonwell Black Tea
For the fifth year in a row, Li Xiaoping is sharing her new Dragonwell Black Tea! She uses the same delicate early buds as her famous green tea, hand-picked from the slopes of Shi Feng, raised on sweet mountain spring water and covered in high elevation mist to protect against sunlight. After light twisting and rolling, this sweet, rich and distinctly mineral-laden tea is then set out in bamboo baskets and loosely covered for ten to fifteen hours and allowed to oxidize in the afternoon heat. This oxidation process brings out savory malty flavors in Li Xiaoping’s Dragonwell that show the unique texture of the region in a completely different light.
- 2022 1st Picking Shi Feng Longjing #43
#43 Varietal Dragonwell was specifically bred and selected to bud even earlier than classic Dragonwell in Shi Feng and yields yellower plumper buds that make for gorgeous steeping in glassware. While classic Dragonwell is all about rocky mineral texture, the new #43 is a crisp, bright focused experience centered around stronger flavor and aroma and more pronounced sweetness. Mrs. Li's first picking of the year is full of all the nutrients and sugars stored by the plant all winter long and offers a more complex, sweet and subtle taste experience. It has a longer aftertaste and thicker texture than later harvests. The soil is full of quartz and white sand while the water comes from natural mountain springs, yielding a flavor that simply can’t be matched outside of Shi Feng itself.
- 2022 1st Picking Shi Feng Dragonwell
This early spring tea is all about a fine and subtle sweetness, and a long, drawn out aftertaste and crisp texture. Cool spring weather produces a small harvest of truly sweet tea. This is Mrs. Li’s first picking of the season, carefully hand-finished by her husband, Shui Huamin. Her true original cultivar Dragonwell (Longjing Qunti) grows on the mountain slopes of Shi Feng and draws in sweet mountain spring water.
- Tasting True Dragonwell with Mrs Li
This bundle includes four 25g bags and five 5g bags of Shi Feng Dragonwell tea for 125g total (25 sessions). Li Xiaoping is an award-winning multi-generational farmer dedicated to sharing true Shi Feng Dragonwell. Her high-elevation Shi Feng plot is one of the most coveted micro-climates for tea in China due to the cool misty weather, the rocky quartz-laden soil, the sweet mountain spring water and the ecological protected park designation. She and her husband Shui Huamin hand pick and hand wok-finish every leaf, producing incredibly small annual batches, picking only before Qingming festival and allowing the plants the rest of the year undisturbed to grow deeper roots.Regular Price $78.50 $70.65
- 2022 Shi Feng Dragonwell
This famous tea is grown using beyond organic green tea cultivation techniques for rich sweet flavor, incredible texture and notes of bamboo and jasmine. Situated on a perfectly-shaded mountainside, Li Xiaoping’s Dragonwell benefits from Shi Feng’s unique climate, rocky quartz soil and sweet mountain springs. Her craft captures a rare example of true Dragonwell- deep minerality, persistent sweetness and complex aromatics.
- 2021 Shi Feng Dragonwell Black Tea
For the fourth year in a row, Li Xiaoping is excited to be sharing her family's new Dragonwell Black Tea! She uses the same delicate early buds as her famous green tea, hand-picked from the slopes of Shi Feng, raised on sweet mountain spring water and covered in high elevation mist to protect against sunlight. After light twisting and rolling, this sweet, rich and distinctly mineral-laden Ming Qian tea is then set out in bamboo baskets and loosely covered for ten to fifteen hours and allowed to oxidize in the afternoon heat. This oxidation process brings out savory malty flavors in Li Xiaoping’s Dragonwell that show the unique texture of the region in a completely different light.
- 2022 Shifeng Semi-Wild High Peak DragonwellThis limited offering from Li Xiaoping can only be picked in years where the weather is cool and temperate and the rain is very light. At the very top of the peak of Shi Feng, there is a grove of trees that have been allowed to grow undisturbed to preserve a natural habitat for birds and increase biodiversity. Among the trees, the Li family has tea plants that have not been cut back and trimmed every year like the lower slope plants. Because these semi-wild Dragonwell bushes are not tended, they require perfect weather to yield the right flavor. Li Xiaoping was able to pick these bushes again this year and offered us the majority of her tiny yield in the interest of cultural exchange and sharing a unique side of Shi Feng’s terroir not often seen. The flavor is rich, bold and complex, sharing the lingering sweetness an aromatic subtlety of early harvest Dragonwell with the big flavor of later harvests. The tea benefits from Shi Feng’s unique quartz-heavy white sand soil and mountain spring water, as well as the cool protected microclimate that the mountains form.
Wondering about Laoshan spring teas?
The He Family started picking their earliest season tea on March 16th, and as their harvest progresses, we will be able to estimate timing and confirm what pickings they can make available this year. So far, Mr. He reports lower yields than usual but very sweet and aromatic tea.
- 2022 Reserve Laoshan Gongfu Black
True Competition-Level Black Tea from Laoshan. This is the earliest, sweetest, most delicate harvest of the year, meticulously hand-rolled and twisted in the style of high-end Wuyi tea. The "gongfu" finish brings out notes of nutmeg, brown sugar, and fine dark chocolate.
- 2022 Spring Laoshan Gongfu Black
Hand-Twisted Craft Black Tea. First flat-pressed, then hand twisted, Laoshan Gongfu Black is a difficult finish favored by the He Family to bring out sparkling minerality in their tea. This spring tea has notes of rose, caramel flan and tropical citrus.
- 2022 Reserve Laoshan Green Oolong
Laoshan Green Oolong takes the beautiful mineral-forward green bean profile of Laoshan Green and gives it an astounding depth and complexity through meticulous labor intensive craftsmanship. Mr. He starts with sweet and fresh shade-grown leaves, then kneads and shakes the leaves to bring out rich florals and fruity undertones. Heat locks in the green quality of this tea before it can oxidize, yielding a fresh pure and honest expression of the unique flavor of the region. This special reserve tea was made from the He Family's early spring shade-grown harvests, picked while the winter greenhouses are still in place to protect against the cold northern climate.
- 2022 Wild Laoshan Mulberry Leaf
The He Family is continuing their tradition again this year of wild-foraging caffeine-free native Laoshan herbs and using their expertise at green tea processing to finish the leaves like a traditional green tea. While Shandong native Lu mulberry leaf would normally be simply air-dried for use in medicinal tea, the He Family has applied withering, heat-fixing, curling and tumble-drying to bring out much richer and more subtle flavor through their craft. We are excited to share the He Family's herbal teas once again this spring season, and to offer a look at the flavor of Laoshan from another plant entirely different from camellia sinensis!
- 2022 Spring Laoshan BlackThis relatively new tea is fed by sweet mountain spring water and oxidized in the sun for three days before finishing to bring out signature chocolate notes. Mr. He perfected this tea as a proud reflection of the bold Shandong spirit and the perseverance of Laoshan Village. Laoshan Black is a labor of love to prove to the world how wonderful teas from Northern China can be. The body is light and smooth, without astringency.
- 2022 Reserve Pine Needle Green
Mr. He’s daughter Qingqing, co-owner of Verdant Tea, pioneered this finishing style with her father. She loves the long delicate twisting technique for the way the leaves dan