Most people that drink tea are probably familiar with the tea from Hangzhou. Some of the world’s most expensive tea, it is said to come from the area of the Dragon Well.
Since I am not a tea drinker I have no idea whether it is any good or not. I don’t know if it is any more expensive than any other tea. I do know that no matter where we go in China that tea is a common and an expected part of the dining experience. There are 18 tea bushes in this area that have been given “Imperial Status” and the leaves of these trees sell for a higher price per ounce than gold. Needless to say, the tea here is at a level that I have never experienced anywhere else.
The main point of interest for me in the area is the well that gives the area its unique name, Dragon Well or Longjing (龍井). The area is well known for tea, it was actually served to President Richard Nixon on his trip to China. Tricky Dick took samples back to his family in the US and it really was the initial reintroduction of tea to America. Nixon’s trip to China helped open China. In a real sense that trip made it possible for me to be where I am now.
The well has many stories about it. The one we were told by our guide was that the Emperor (called the Dragon) stopped here by the well and rested. There is a nice little bench in the spot where he is believed to have rested. The Emperor is said to have washed his face and his beard fell off in the well. The water in the well never acted the same again. Another story is that there was an actual dragon that lived here. While I don’t know if the story is true or if the dragon actually lived at the well, I did see a really unusual response to the stick in the water stirring it. I have never seen anything like.
We have pictures of the well water after it was stirred and it does indeed look like the scales of a dragon.