Review: Grand Tea Xi Hu Dragon Well

Dragonwell Tea, Grand Tea, Green Tea Add comments
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"With fern like flavours and a lightly nutty aftertaste, the tea certainly delights with Xi Hu charm oozing from its full hospitality and fresh, slightly rugged smile. "
Raven’s Teaview: 8.4/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 8.2/10, Lynn gave it 8.5/10, Bryan gave it 5.1/10
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What’s that Lassie, what’s that boy…. Timmy’s in the well….oh, no you barked Timmy’s drinking dragon well. No Lassie, you can’t have any, I’m sorry pup. But rightly so, that’s no surprise as Dragon well is just as iconic and endearing as Lassie and its definitely a tea whose fame has won it acclaim, if not an Emmy, and with that good old sweet charm, it could do one up on the Brady’s or Cleavers. But of course, Dragonwell's easy appeal makes it harder to tell whether the Long Jing one finds might be better to dump in a well or worth a savoring sip as it has definitely gone into syndication, being produced in many areas and in different grades. As Zhejiang province’s best known tea, the whereabouts within Zhejiang has a good deal of an impact on the price of the tea. The great eponymous well where Dragonwell began at West Lake is in Hangzhou district, making tea grown in this 168 km2 area the most highly prized. Xi Hu means West Lake so tea from these gardens nearest to West Lake are designated as Xi Hu. Within Xi Hu Dragonwell, Shi Feng or Lion Peak Dragonwell collected from Lion Peak mountain, Long Jing Village and Weng Jia Shan is often the most esteemed since it is where Dragonwell originated and it is the highest in altitude of the Xi Hu areas. Yet Meijiawu, just west of West Lake, is another distinguished producing region whereas tea from all other areas within Hangzhou is just called Xi Hu to differentiate it from Long Jing grown in other areas of Zhejiang province of which there are several.
So Grand Tea’s Xi Hu Premium Dragon well has star quality with the promise of fine entertainment. Yet they also offer a higher grade in their supreme Shi Feng Dragonwell, neither of which command a blockbuster budget.
As a promo of sorts, the tea's leaves give an enticing view of the pending epidsodic cup that highlights the important points. The draw is the fine pressing of flattened whole leaves, that have a yellowish tint recognized for the Lion Peak area and the circles of down shimmering on a few of their surfaces. Yet the shapes, colour and sizes of the leaves aren’t quite homogeneous or entirely neat in their folds. The hues range from fern to yellowish green with an odd few Kelly green leaves while the shapes similarly have a balance of flat peaks with other varied half open leaves with the sizes ranging from about a third to one and a quarter inches. While the larger leaves still retain the stem from picking. Yet overall the leaves still have a noble character.
So with the silhouette, delving into into their story, the light to medium aroma lays out the plot with their slant to the recognizable Dragonwell theme. The scent opens with cool greens dusted with talc that have tasty fern like and meaty vegetal notes that rumble with a mild nuttiness like toasted cornmeal. After showcasing the cast of key characters in the delightful spring nutty aromas, the leaves do pull one in for more, although it's a bit of a shame they don't speak a little louder.
With a pause for a commercial as the sponsoring kettle does it's business, I brewed two teaspoons of the tea for three minutes at 180°F. As the leaves plump open from their flattened folds, the brew turns a relaxed yellow straw rather than a straw rose or jade hued cup often seen with Shi Feng Dragonwell. The infusion has a touch of haze that may likely be just theatrics anxious hairs released from the leaves during their splash. It's easy to relax into watching such things as the cheery medium aroma veils one in an air of contentment. A bit nutty, the scent has a grand refinement layered with salted cooked vegetables like okra and marine aromas.
The plot thickens with the taste, lead by vegetal, fern flavours like fiddleheads and okra with the heft of a medium body that moves nicely. The vegetal character mingles with a touch of marine like flavours to fill out the palate wonderfully while it pleases with some richness but it stops before the edge of full savour. There is some banter to follow as the medium finish adds some nutty, toastiness with a subtle chestnut flavour along with a hint of snap peas. Yet the nuttiness comes through more in the aftertaste than in the cup, making for a bit of an uneven dialogue but a tasty sentiment to linger over. Without any distracting astringency, the tea has a lovely roundness yet seems a touch powdery or chalky feeling rather than feeling totally clean. This slight powdery touch also seems to subdue the nuttiness and some of the sweetness while it leaves a slight coating on one's teeth between sips. However, it also leaves a pleasant velvety feeling on the tongue to contemplate the nutty, vegetal flavours.
Riveted to continue the story to another cup, a further infusion of the leaves, happily brings a cup of a similar strawish yellow as the first. The aroma is more reserved, speaking with less vegetal scents and more towards lily pads with a dry cotton like note. Yet there is still some fall vegetal flavours to follow with the engaging pep and body that also finishes with a chestnutty hum. I may stop after two steepings as a third almost pinkish blond cup seemed to lose its scent and despite a splendid silky texture, retained little flavour that turned to more pond-like and stalkish like asparagus ends.
Grand Tea's Xi Hu Premium Dragonwell is certainly Emmy worthy by its showcasing of true Dragonwell style with its full smooth fern and chestnutty flavours. It isn't the sweetest of Dragonwells but its ample balance could readily star in one's daily prime time tea entertainment.

— To purchase Grand Tea Xi Hu Dragon Well, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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