The history of Longjing and Biluochun

Updated: 2012-03-31 10:21

By Ye Jun (

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Longjing (dragon well) tea got famous as early as in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Two people contributed to the great fame of Longjing and Biluochun. Local tea farmers and tea brewers will tell you stories about Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperor Qianlong, who wrote several poems for Longjing tea, and named Biluochun (emerald spring spirals) himself during his tours to Hangzhou and Suzhou.

Another person who made Longjing green tea famous is late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who used the tea as a state gift to visiting foreign leaders since he visited tea farms in Longjing Village in 1963.

In 2001, Longjing tea got under original designation protection. Only teas produced within 168 square kilometers within the famous Xiwu, West Lake scenic area, can be called Xihu Longjing. Other teas produced in Zhejiang province can only be called Longjing. The most famous areas producing the tea are Shifeng Shan (lion peak mountain), Meijiawu, and Longjing Village.

After picking, the tea goes through withering, roasting, and hand-frying in the wok to get it into a flat, straight, smooth and crisp spear shape. In 2009, the processing method was rated state level intangible cultural heritage.

Like Longjing, Biluochun is processed on the same day of picking. It is dried, and hand-rubbed into lovely green curls, with a lot of tiny downy hair, an indication of quality. Dongting Lake's Dongshan (east mountain) and Xishan (west mountain) are considered to produce the best Biluochun green teas.