Jinbaima Organic Hubei Dragonwell

Jinbaima Organic Hubei Dragonwell

One River Tea

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Hubei Green Tea
Spring 2018 Yuqian (Harvested between April 5th and April 20th)

Leaf: Very tightly curled, dark green.
Liquor: Golden green with lots of visible tea oil.
Aroma: Toasty, buttery, with slight fruity notes.
Taste: Rich, savory, slight nuttiness reminiscent of Hangzhou Dragonwell, plenty of umami.

This is one of the most exciting finds of our 2018 tea sourcing trip. Hearing about dragonwell green tea over 1,000 Km from Hangzhou's West Lake area threw us for a bit of a loop at first, especially when the tea we were shown looked nothing like the flat-leaf pan-fried dragonwell we were used to seeing. This was quickly explained; apparently, a tea researcher a few decades back brought the dragonwell cultivar from Hangzhou to Hubei and tried to cultivate it. His efforts were successful, the varietal thrived in the high elevation and temperate clime. 

It is a dragonwell varietal cultivated in Hubei and processed with their local methods. Hubei is famous for producing a steamed green tea known as Yulu, or Jade Dew. This tea is light and delicate, reminiscent of its Japanese cousins. Likewise, the Hubei dragonwell has been molded by this local process, and while the base varietal still contains the strong buttery taste of classic dragonwell teas, the processing methods transform this tea into something utterly unique. We highly recommend trying this hard-to-find dragonwell.

The real innovation comes from the locals producing the tea in the same way they produce their other teas, unconcerned about making their dragonwell look like a good copy of that from the West Lake. In Hubei, after they kill the green of the fresh leaves to stop oxidization, they tightly roll the leaves on mechanized rollers for a precise, tight, and twisted needle shape. This breaks the cell walls of the leaf and forces compounds contained within the leaf out, to crystallize on the dry surface of the leaf. This process translates into a richer, thicker, and quicker release of flavor and catechins into the brewed tea. It is also visible when brewed in a clear glass, one can see the tea oils rise off the steeping and quickly unfurling leaves. 

Brewing recommendation: We recommend drinking this tea 'grandpa style,' as loose leaves in a tall glass: it is easy, simple, and elegant. This is the way almost everyone drinks green tea in China, from office workers to farmers, all in unspoken solidarity. 

Read more about how to brew green tea Grandpa Style.

Read more about the processing method of this Enshi Dragonwell.

Read more about the Jinbaima Organic Tea Cooperative.