Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell is a green tea from Verdant Tea. This dragonwell is organically produced, hand picked and roasted by the Li family in Shi Feng, Dragonwell Village in the Zhejiang Province of China.
My tea owlets, I admit, the dragonwells I’ve had so far I wasn’t very impressed with. Though, I’m not sure how old the dragonwells I had were. Verdant Tea was taking preorders for their spring teas, and I figured I should give Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell a shot. This is the freshest tea I’m going to get my owl claws on. Seriously. The leaves were picked early April. It is mid-late May as I write this.
DRY LEAF: Dragonwell always has a curious appearance with its flat green leaves.
The leaves look greener than I’m used to. I took a few leaves from the other Dragonwell I had on hand to compare. WOW, very green indeed!
Gongfu Steeping: Following the Dragonwell brewing instructions, I used 175F water, no rinse, 3 second steeps. After infusion number 3, I add an additional 3 seconds.
First Infusion: A lovely pale yellow cup of tea that smells sweetly grassy. Kinda reminds me of gyokuro, but not as strong of a smell.
First sip, SUPER CRISPY! During mid sip I get a lovely creamy texture on the lips. The tea is lightly vegetal spinachy sweet. Like homegrown, ultra fresh baby spinach. End of sip I get a sweet, juicy vegetal flavor that lingers.
The vegetal is similar to a gyokuro, but much milder, creamy and sweeter. Very very nice. Absolutely no bitterness or dryness.
Second Infusion: Even more crisp! The vegetal is mellower, like the inside flesh of an english cucumber. There is still a nice creamy texture, which guides me from first sip to the sweet end of sip. YUM.
Guest Reviewer: My husband who dislikes tea – I asked him to try, so he can say he had fresh tea picked a month ago. “I guess it tastes fresh, but it also tastes like tea. Ick.”
Third, Fourth, Fifth Infusion: Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell brightens at first sip, with delicious juicy cucumber vegetal flavor, ending with the cucumber melon creamy sweetness. The creamy texture is reduced, but still there with the tea is so crisp and refreshing! Each further infusion (4th and 5th) get more clean, crisp and fruity sweet. It is like I can’t stop sipping away at this tea – it’s so fresh and relaxing! I forgot all about my headache I was having.
The leaves are losing their flat shape, it appears the leaves were pressed or folded to be flat flakes – very interesting!
Sixth, Seventh Infusion: The vegetal note here is super mellow, with the sweetness mid and end of sip stealing the show with a delicate, yet bright sweet, almost tangy, lychee-cream flavor. End of sip I get a quick touch of dryness, which adds to the lychee experience. After my sip, there is a lovely silky texture remaining!
Eight Infusion: This is probably the last infusion. All I’m getting is a little savory vegetal with a hint of melon sweet at the end.
TEA LEAF SALAD: Eating the steeped out leaves is mentioned as a side note in the Dragonwell brewing instructions. Let’s try!
I had my guest reviewer, Tea Hating Husband, try it first. “I doesn’t taste like tea, but it doesn’t taste good.” Oh well, I tried.
Me? Well, when you first chew on the leaves, it has a nutty flavor which develops into a strong vegetal flavor with a dry aftertaste. I think eating the leaves would be better mixed with salad greens than on its own.
I’ve had tea brewed like this as a kid – I’d go to Vancouver, BC Canada’s China town every weekend. The noodle house would serve tea in tall glasses, too hot to the touch. Of course, when I thought of trying this at home, I was like, “Great, tea in a pyrex measuring cup will look great in photos for the blog.” Then I realized, “Duh, a tea tumbler!”
Really cute leaves on the bottom of the tumbler!
First sip, I’m trying to get the leaves out of the way. they aren’t budging when I blow on them. I’m thinking this tumbler is too narrow as there is no room to move the leaves aside on the surface.
The tea tastes very strong, grassy spinachy. I’m now stabbing the leaves with my finger, and wiggling the tumbler to hopefully make the leaves descend, which isn’t working either. Ehh, screw it, I’ll fish leaves out of my mouth, it’s not like I haven’t done it before. I have had a few lazy mornings where I just throw in loose tea and pour water on it, without use of a strainer.
More I sip, less strong the tea tastes and more sparkling the tea gets, with the lovely vegetal flavors. Slowly, the tea gets creamy as I sip the tumbler down.
I hope when I refill that the leaves will sink. Plllease!
Sort of. Here at Oolong Owl, we are accident prone owls. I went in with a clean knife and pushed the leaves down, which helped most of them descend. Okay, now this is easier to drink!
I’m finally getting the cucumber fresh notes in Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell with loads of fresh, clean and crisp notes! I actually let this tea sit for awhile, and it never became overly strong or dry – very nice! Very flexible, yet delicate tea!
I preferred the gaiwan brewing myself. The glass steeping went a little hairy for me, so next time I’d probably pop on the filter on my tumbler or find a better glass. I think this would be fantastic tea to take to work or school, and top off with hot water throughout the day!