Dragon Well comes from Xihu (West Lake) area of Hangzhou in the Zhejiang Province of China. Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejian, and has a population of over 8 million people. The Xihu area is on the outskirts of Hangzhou, like Boulder is to Denver, or Sonoma to San Francisco. As you can see from the map below, a small set of mountains are located just to the west of Hangzhou, which is where Long Jing should come from.
This set of mountains has been designated and set aside as a scenic preserve and authentic Dragon Well should come from within this designated area. As you can see from the image below, this area is relatively small, and is just outside of the sprawling Hangzhou area.
As a result of Dragon Well being one of China's Ten Famous Teas, production cannot keep up with demand, just like many other well known teas. However, it is fairly easy to tell true Long Jing after tasting them for awhile.
|A close up of one of the samples.|
|The other sample.|
|The two compared after one steeping.|
|A close up after two steepings.|
|The other one after two steepings.|
TDS - 74ppm
Temp - 165
Brewed Tea (One I liked)
TDS - 241ppm
PH - 6.55
Temp - 155
Brewed Tea (One I set aside)
TDS - 235ppm
PH - 6.74
Temp - 155
My guess is that the one I set aside was picked slightly later and not treated to as high of standards, resulting in a slightly rougher tea, a bit more dry, and thus harder to extract from. The one I liked, on the other hand, was held to a higher standard during processing, resulting in fresher leaves that extracted a bit better. For me, paying the $12 more per pound to get the higher quality tea, despite being of the same "grade" is worth the price. It is also a lesson in knowing your vendors and what they specialize in.