October Tea Blend - Golden Dragon
Autumn is in full splendor here in the Pacific Northwest. Just this morning I found myself continually entranced by the dance of Big Leaf Maple leaves to the forest floor from their high perches.
The long days of grey have begun, and I often find myself wanting something special on these short afternoons, something earthy and caffeinated!
This is a first for the tea blog to include a caffeinated blend, but it is one of my favorite afternoon teas when the weather turns wet and cool.
I call it Golden Dragon because it’s a simple mixture of Dragonwell green tea and Turmeric.
I am a FAN of Turmeric. It is a significantly powerful herb, not it mention its mesmerizing golden color and its delicious earthy, spicy flavor are unlike anything else! It pairs nicely with the nutty green quality of Dragonwell.
Lad says of Turmeric in The Yoga of Herbs, “[It] is an excellent natural antibiotic, while at the same time it strengthens digestion and helps improve intestinal flora. As such it is a good antibacterial for those chronically ill or weak. It not only purifies the blood, but warms it and stimulates formation of new blood tissue.
It is effective for cleansing the chakras and subtle channels of the body. Making it good for the practice of hatha yoga.
It detoxifies and decongests the liver and also promotes proper metabolism in the body, correcting both excesses and deficiencies. It is a tonic to the skin, for which purposes it can be taken internally as a milk decoction.”
Dragonwell is defined by its location like many other teas in the camellia sinensis species. Wikipedia says of it “Longjing tea, sometimes called by its literal translated name Dragon Well tea, is a variety of pan-roasted green tea from the area of Longjing Village in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. It is produced mostly by hand and renowned for its high quality.”
Verdant Tea online says however “True Dragonwell tea can only be picked on Shi Feng mountain (Lion’s Peak) above Dragonwell Village in Zhejiang Province. This is a truly tiny region which can only produce a small quantity of tea each year. At best, most of what’s marketed is green tea made from one of the Longjing varietals, pressed flat but grown outside of Shi Feng.”
The world of tea is full of such arguments, and the only way to decide what’s best is to drink! Regardless, it is easy to find a low priced organic Dragonwell offering from many brands. I don’t have a favorite so I encourage you to experiment!
I typically brew this blend in a gaiwan, which is simply a small Chinese lidded bowl without handle used for the infusion of tea leaves. It was invented during the Ming dynasty and is perfect for a quick personal brew of anything you want to steep. I prefer this large thick kind which makes it less likely that the heat from the brew will burn my hands. You can find it here.
I typically brew two spoonful’s of Dragonwell with about 1/8th tsp (or less depending on your taste) turmeric powder. I prefer cut and sifted dried turmeric root, but it can be difficult to find so I often resort to just plain kitchen spice powder when needed.
With green teas you typically want to start with a lower temperature for the first brew 175F-185F, then increase by 10 or 15 degrees for each subsequent brew for a total of about 3 brews. This rise in temperature with each brew ‘wrings’ out new flavor from the leaves, creating a new tasting experience each time.
If you’re using the Turmeric powder I recommend straining the brew as you pour it off to minimize the powder that collects in your tea. Otherwise, enjoy this unique golden beauty!