Family Travel: Harvesting Green Tea at Longjing Village, Hangzhou

The ultimate green tea experience

by SHFamily | Wed, March 28, 2018

With more than 1200 years of history, Longjing Tea is regarded with the highest calibre in China that grows in the surrounding area of Hangzhou's famous West Lake. Now that spring has sprung, it's the best time for tea-picking to commence and we ventured to the charming hills to experience harvesting this green beauty ourselves.

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Sitting on the Western side of the West Lake, this is where Longjing Tea originates. At just a 30-40 minute journey outside of Hangzhou's center (allow more time during weekends), you'll transition from cityscape as you leave Hangzhou City Station to beautiful greenery as the rolling hills come into view.

Arriving at Longjing Village, tranquility instantly washed over us. We were surrounded by nature, and followed a stone staircase that would lead us to the Qianlong Imperial Library and La Maison Lu Ming Tang for orientation – a beautiful temple house nestled in the UNESCO-listed tea hills, overlooking the eponymous 'Dragon Well'. It was here, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), that Emperor Qianlong retreated to create poems and calligraphy that celebrated the virtue of tea, and where our group were able to test-drive some of their products inspired and made from tea itself – light creams, moisturizing toners, scented handsoaps and more.

With orientation complete we followed our expert guide, John, and made our way through the village, passing local shops that oozed the delightful smell of fresh tea being dried. Equipped with our own individual wicker baskets, we were guided to begin our experience of picking tea for the first time. Walking to the tea fields – terraced and practically gleaming under the spring sun – the experience began with the field's owner informing the group of how to select and harvest tea the right way. Trawling through the segmented terraces, we scoured the bushes of fresh tea – all the while admiring the fantastic view of the valley that curved around us in a stunning panoramic view, and smiling as the kids laughed and played around us. 

With baskets filled, we were led back to a local store in Longjing Village to share our haul and watch as the master of tea poured the leaves into an open pan to dry them. He expertly whisked the leaves in and around the pan, picking them up and letting them drop back in with rapid movements. A fascinating sight to behold and learn about as we watched our favorite drink being prepared right before our eyes. The smell coming from the pan and the leaves drying was heavenly, a delicate sweet scent that surrounded us and the immediate area, and one that we later got to enjoy on a more personal level as we sipped on our own glasses of Longjing green tea, freshly harvested from the fields down the road. 

Our tea-picking experience drew to a close back at the gorgeous temple house, surrounded in the pastel greens, warm wooden hues, large windows and a spot of afternoon tea. Pairing iconic Chinese tea with delicious French pastries, a mish-mash of East meets West seamlessly combines for an educational and entertaining experience in the hills of Hangzhou that allowed us to delve deeper into Chinese tea heritage.

 

Looking for more spring hiking inspiration? Check out three other ideas that your family will love

 

Good to know

  • Lu Ming Tang x Shanghai & Beyond Longjing Trip, WeChat: Sandrine-Sh