Review: Teavana Dragonwell

Dragonwell Tea, Green Tea, Teavana Add comments
Dan’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Hands-down, the best green tea I have tasted. Mild, sweet, toasty, and downright-delicious."
Dan’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Brad gave it 7/10
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teavanadragonwell1The astute Teaviews reader who really pays attention may have noticed that I have something of an aversion to green tea. Of the 41 reviews I have written to date, a mere two of them have been on green tea. It's not that I dislike the stuff - it's just that it's so rare to come across a really great one. And that, my friends, is strictly, 100% my opinion, of course. I'm sure there are thousands, if not millions, of others who might be totally in love with certain blends of green tea that just do not do it for me. But then - and herein lies the beauty of reviewing so many varieties of tea - along comes a real shocker, a surprise finding that throws you for a loop and tosses all your preconceived perceptions about a whole genre of tea right out the window.

Teavana's Dragonwell is organic and comes from the Lung Ching Garden. Dragonwell is officially known as Longjing tea (from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China) so I'm unsure if this is something lost in translation. Dragonwell is different in that the oxidation is stopped by frying or steaming the leaves before they completely dry out. Wikipedia reports that most Longjing tea is not authentic and comes from other provinces, and may include lesser quality tea mixed in. I'm no expert and cannot comment on this tea's authenticity, but then again it matters not to me, as this is delicious stuff.

The aroma out of the bag is that of a candy store tucked into the back of a feed shop. I've always been a big sucker for the aroma of bird seed, and this gives off that vibe, But behind that is a super-subtle sweetness calling up Willy Wonka and childhood trips to the corner pharmacy. Once brewed up to a pale yellow-green hue (a mere 1.5 to 2 minutes at 175 degrees is recommended), that aroma escapes entirely, and a whole new vegetal scent comes stomping out of the cup. Now, with most green teas, you (or should I say "I") get a tedious and non-exciting veggie flavor on the palette, and the more potent it is, the more annoying it becomes. However, this tea produces an elixir well beyond the ordinary. "Sweet" is such a perfect descriptor for this tea, and not one generally associated with green tea (in my past experience) - and I even hesitate to use that term, because it does not give you an accurate portrayal of the flavors within. But that is the first thing that comes across. Behind that, definite vegetal notes come through - almost a cornucopia of such, with sweet potato lingering on the back of the tongue, and corn lingering near the front. In addition, there is a gentle smokiness or toasted/charred flavor that is VERY subtle, but can be detected. As all this may lead you to believe, this ain't no average green tea.

The marvelous thing about this tea is that several steepings stand up just as strongly as the first. Another marvelous thing is that this tea is complex enough to handle a wide range of brew temperatures and times without any real negative results. An initial short steeping close to 1 minute gives off a cup similar to white tea, while a longer steeping closer to 3 minutes or more will reveal a grassier cup, but without the usual bitterness that accompanies greens steeped over 2 minutes. A second cupping from the same leaves, brewed slightly longer than the first and at slightly higher temperature, results in an even better cup -- slightly sweeter, while simultaneously more toasty and savory. I found myself sipping fervishly from the cup, one after the other.

I must plead ignorance in that I do believe I have only tried dragonwell tea once before, and I do not remember being so impressed. Teavana's selection may or may not be at the top of the pack of Dragonwell teas, but if there's better than this, I would be mighty impressed.

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One Response to “Review: Teavana Dragonwell”

  1. Ken Says:

    There are infinitely better dragonwells than this. Two vendors come to mind immediately, Life in Teacup and Teavivre. This is actually a rather weak dragonwell, and you have to use more leaf to get decent flavor. I don’t believe for even a moment that it’s authentic. Sorry Teavana.

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