I was recently perusing tea seller websites, as one does, and came across a real sticker shock tea. This was on the Harney & Sons website and the tea was Longjing (Lung Ching). That is a common and famous tea so that’s not shocking. The shocking part was the price – $650.00 for 1 pound! For comparison, the more popular teas that they sell like English Breakfast and Earl Grey go for $22/lb. There’s no way I’m paying $650 for tea, but lucky for me, they sold this in a sample pack for $5. Sold. I was way too curious to know what a tea that expensive tasted like and if it was worth the price. So let’s see if it is.
I used 3.5 grams of leaf, 180 F water and steeped it for 15 seconds plus three for each subsequent infusion. I used 100 ml of water that was filtered in bamboo charcoal for each infusion.
But first, I would like to show you my new and first ever proper tea tray. I just got it today and figured this was the best tea to break it in with. It’s a simple starter tray that I got from the giant online retailer for around $20. I really like it so far. Enough about the tray let’s hear about the tea!
Right off the bat I could tell this tea was special. The dry leaves were just a different texture than I had ever seen. They were flat and slick, but still dry. Like they slipped through my fingers when I first picked them up. That was new to me and I have had a few different longjings before. The dry leaves smelled of sweet corn and I just couldn’t wait to drink it.
I just want to start by saying I am not a fan of hyperbole as it isn’t my style. I really was skeptical coming into this thinking it was just overpriced tea for no good reason.
The texture on this was very thick and coating and very smooth like a broth. But it was also very light in a way that’s hard to explain. The main taste was that of sweet corn with a slight green vegetal note. There was no astringency or bitterness at all and it was oh so smooth.
The second and third infusions were very similar in taste and texture. However, there was a slight astringency on these infusions but it was brief.
That’s when I felt something different. I was starting to perspire after the second infusion. Shortly after that, I got this wave of energy and just felt really great. I can’t say that I’ve ever felt that way after two infusions of anything!
I skipped the picture of the third infusion because I was so surprised by the body sensation that I was feeling.
For the fourth infusion, the astringency was completely gone and I started to get a sweeter note on the finish, which was really nice. The texture and tastes were still very similar.
After the fourth infusion, I was already tea drunk. I’ve never felt that way before 8 infusions on any other tea. This tea is special.
And it gets better. The fifth through seventh infusions had no astringency and had a more pronounced sweetness to them. It got sweeter as it went.
I am really surprised by just how good this tea was. It was delicious and had some crazy body sensations (is that what they call cha qi?).
Now, the big question: Is it worth the price? Yes and no. If you can get your hands on a sample for $5.00, do it right now. It is absolutely 100% worth that. I would not pay $650.00 for this tea or any tea, but that is my personal preference.
There is another option, which I will use for my calculations. Harney sells this in a 2 oz. (56 g) tin for $90.00. 3.5 grams per session comes to 16 sessions in the tin. That is $5.63 per session. You can get at least 8 infusions out of this, probably more, but let’s use 8. That comes to $.70 per cup. Granted, you have to drink 8 of them at a time to get to that price per cup, but still. This is a special tea to be drunk on special occasions when you have time to sit down and savor it. At that price of $5.63 per session it is a good deal.
Definitely get the sample. If you are willing to spend $90 on tea, this is worth it in my opinion. You may be able to get a similar tea for less from another seller, so that’s always an option.
This tea kind of blew me away and changed my perception of what a longjing can be. I hope you will get to try it too!