Thursday, May 9, 2013
Teavivre, Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea
The fresh Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Tea provided by Teavivre is picked before Tomb-Sweeping Day, an important solar term in Chinese agriculture. Ming Qian (Pre-ming) tea is seldom damaged by insects. Its buds and leaves are delicate and tender. With a mellow taste, it is emerald green in color and quite beautiful in appearance. Since the weather is relatively cold before Tomb-Sweeping Day, the number of fresh buds is limited and they grow slow. Therefore, a few leaves can meet the picking standard. Compared with those picked after Tomb-Sweeping Day, Ming Qian (Pre-ming) tea is of top grade.
Harvest time: March 8 - March 10, 2013
Sample provided by Teavivre
For those of us who don't know the word 'Nonpareil', I looked it up and found it basically means without equal. I opened up the sample packet and took a deep sniff of the leaf. It is slightly sour like a fresh cut field. The leaf is flat, straight, and emerald in appearance. I normally follow Teavivre's directions for steep time and temperature. The leaf amount I am not following. The Chinese apparently like to use a lot of leaf as this calls for 8g per 8oz water. That is a lot of leaf. I am using half the sample or roughly 3.5g.
The resulting liquor is yellow tinted and very clear. The wet leaf was an amazingly hearty steamed spinach aroma.
The first thing I noticed about the sip is it is so smooth. It is slightly sweet and has a milk like feel across the tongue. I have also had the Superfine and the Premium versions of this tea. Each has the basic Long Jing flavor, yet each is different. This is the most mellow of the three. The Premium had the most bite. Teavivre says this has a chestnut like taste. I am not familiar with the taste of chestnuts, so I can't verify the similarity. To me it is a non-bitter Chinese green tea grassy with a woody kind of bamboo flavor. The aftertaste lingers nicely.
This tea is not cheap at $3.18 per 8oz cup when prepared per Teavivre's instructions, compared to $1.95 for the Superfine and $1.18 for the Premium. By American standards this is at the higher end of the price scale to most of us for a loose leaf tea. The higher price reflects the quality and limited availability of this tea. If you steep the leaf three times (highly recommend), it will reduce the cost to $1.06/cup. Remember what you paid for a cup on your last trip to Starbucks, and you didn't flinch? Hint - it was more than $1.06. If you cut down the amount of leaf as I did, you will also be cutting the price per cup at least in half. Now remember what you paid at the restaurant for low quality bagged tea. For the same money, or far less with multiple steeps, you could be enjoying this top notch and rare Dragon Well as a special treat.
For everyday use the Premium Dragon Well is excellent and works out to $0.34/cup if you steep 3 times. I have not tried their entry level Dragon Well yet but from other's reviews it is still a very nice tea at $0.23 with three steeps. That is certainly in the everyday range. If you have not tried a Dragon Well tea, Teavivre sells sample sizes of all their offerings and shipping is free with a $30 purchase.
Visit the Teavivre website.