Dragon Well Tea Legends Reveiled

Dragon Well tea is the most famous of Chinese green tea that is known for its wonderful taste and amazingly fine quality. It is also a tea with a long history with its production dating back 1,500 years ago. According Cha-Jing (the world’s first tea book written by Lu Yu), it was recorded as early as Song Dynasty. Two fascinating legends have been passed down through generations and they are definitely worth to read to make your experience of this drinking Dragon Well tea even better.

Legend of Dragon Well


Long ago, a tea elf had 8 teacups and always used them to brew teas for his guests in fairyland. One day many gods came and visited his home, the elf was panicking and dropped one cup to the human world. The god Dongbing helped him to go to the human world and told him he had only one chance to get the cup back. The elf went down to the mountain in Shifeng (one of the Legendary Dragon Well Green Tea Villages). He believed his cup was there but he couldn’t find it. Searching for a whole day, he was tired and thirty. Fortunately, he found an old lady who was brewing teas and she was very nice to give him a cup of tea. Then he found the tea water tasted like his. Thus he asked the old lady where the water and the tea came from. She pointed to a well not far away and said the well appeared long ago after something dropped from the sky. The water was from the well and the teas were irrigated by the water. At that moment, the elf knew that his cup became this well long time ago since one day in the fairyland is equal to many years in the human world. To thank the old lady for treating him cordially, he decided to leave the cup there and turned back to fairyland. He told this story to some of his dragon friends and they sometimes visit the well and drink water from there. Then this well has become very important for the local green teas and therefore is named after the Well visited by Dragons

Legend of 18 tea trees beside the Dragon Well


Then many years passed, the old lady’s house became a famous temple called “Hugong”. And 18 tea trees, irrigated by the water from Dragon Well, were planted outside of it. In Qing Dynasty, an emperor called Qianlong came to Hangzhou and visited Hugong temple. When he was picking teas from the tea trees outside the temple, he received a message that his mother was ill and wished his immediate return to Beijing. He shoved the leaves he had picked into his sleeve and immediately left for Beijing. Upon his return he immediately went to visit his mother. She noticed the smell of the leaves coming from his sleeves. Qianlong decided to immediately brew a cup of tea made from the Dragon Well tea leaves for her. The holy tea cured her disease. The Emperor was very grateful and gave the 18 tea trees  Imperial status. Since then, Dragon Well tea became the tribute tea to emperors.

Until today, the 18 tea trees remain at the Shifeng Mountain and attract thousands of tourists all over the world.

8 Inspiring Ideas for Your Tea Business or Startup

Starting any business is hard, and you can’t get away from this challenging even if you’re in the booming tea business. Are you in the process of starting your own tea business now, or are you facing difficulties with your current business? Don’t give up yet. Read these inspirational quotes, even if you’ve failed many times, you’ll have the motivation to bounce right back:

  1. Start with a good product. It really doesn’t matter how good your marketing is, if you’re not offering unique teas and teaware that people will love, it’s not gonna work out in the long term.
  2. Think user experience. Is your online tea store easy to use? Do your customers know how to steep your tea, and do you offer the right teaware for that? How do customers experience your service and the interior design of your shop or tea room? Most expert believe that startups don’t invest enough in user experience. Does this apply to you as well?
  3. The last 10%: You’re 90% ready, then don’t be lazy on the last 10%. In fact, the last 10% often takes 90% of your time. Is it worth it? Hell yeah, it’s crucial, it makes professional and sustainable tea business different from the rest.
  4. A great tea business evolves: Making mistakes sucks, but not evaluating your mistakes and using the feedback from your customer to improve your business is a crime. Great tea stores learn from mistakes, and evolve by improving their product assortment and services, so they can avoid such failures in the future. In fact, if you’re not failing, probably you’re playing safe and probably you’re not trying hard enough. That’s risky. Even if you don’t have the best idea to begin with, you can likely adapt if you try your best.
  5. Motivation: Bad shit is always coming, it’s just something that comes with starting a tea business. Don’t get demoralized by that.
  6. Make everyone feel respected: If you’re working with team mates, make them feel respected, empowered, and genuinely excited about your mission. You can make a product that people want, but it’s as important to build a tea business that people want to work for. Hiring is also important here. Hire those who’re committed to the world of tea.
  7. Customer focus: always try your best to learn what customers ‘really’ want. They might ask for a mediocre tea bag, tell them about some better stuff you have and convince them to try! Really finding out what the customer wants isn’t always the same as what they think they want, or what you think they want.
  8. Be hungry: if you’re currently running a successful tea business, then you might feel safe. This can be a big pitfall. You’ve to be hungry, because being hungry is just half the work of sustaining a tea business.

Is Tea Gluten Free?

Millions of people worldwide suffer from gluten intolerance. As tea is known to be second most consumed beverage, it’s good to know whether it fits in your gluten free diet.

So does tea have gluten? Luckily all teas made from the Camellia Sinensis tea plant are gluten free. So the general answer is: No.

If you’re just following a gluten free diet for general health or following the footsteps of Novac Djokovic’ diet for physical performance, then you’re probably ok with this answer. However, if you’re allergic to wheat then you’ll need some more details.

Tea versus Tisane

What we first need to make clear is that with ‘tea’ we only mean a steeped beverage from the Camellia Sinenses tea plant. Any other infused drinks from other ingredients should correctly be referred to as a ’tisane’ including blends.

So is there a difference between green, black, white, oolong and pu erh tea? The answer is ‘no’. They’re all made from the tea plant, and what makes them different is the processing method applied.

So given this, 100% pure leaf teas from the tea plant are gluten free. For tisanes, it’s harder to draw a conclusion as there’s such a large diversity of drinks out there. For blends it’s even harder, let alone blends with any artificial flavoring and coloring.

The most conservative approach would be to stick to pure leaf teas.

There’s one exception which is Fuzhuan tea. This is one of the few Chinese teas that can contain wheat or barley as mentioned in ‘The Art and Craft of Tea’ by Joseph Wesley. Sometimes rice flour is used instead, which doesn’t contain gluten. Make sure to check with the vendor if you’re considering Fuzhuan tea.


Academic Studies

The most referred to study in the academic world is the recent publication called “Survey of tea for the presence of gluten“, published in the Journal of Food Protection. Here’s the conclusion that can be found in the abstract:

“Based on the requirement for concurrence between the RIDASCREEN gliadin (R5) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the Morinaga Institutes of Biological Science (MIoBS) wheat protein ELISA, none of the 20 products included in the survey tested positive for wheat, rye, barley, or gluten.”

This result also shows that there’s generally not much to worry about when it comes to possible contamination in tea.

One note that we want to make is that some tea companies that makes tea bags can contain gluten. It’s not that there’s any wheat in the tea itself, but when you dip the tea bag in hot water, the glue can melt slightly releasing a very small amount of gluten. Given current regulation, they however can still be labelled as ‘gluten-free’ as they still contain by far less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Thus, generally there’s not much reason for worry.

Raw leaves versus Steeped Tea

Even if your tea contains a tiny bit of gluten, it’s good to know that only a tiny part of that will end up in your cup. The fact is that wheat/gluten is not all that soluble in water. It will mostly stay in your tea bag, or filtered from the tea leaves using an infuser.



Jiaogulan Tea A.K.A. The Herb of Immortality

Jiagulan, also known by the name Gynostemma Pentaphyllum, is an ancient herb often used to make a medicinal herbal tea. What’s so special about this plant? Why is it called the ‘poor man’s ginseng’ or ‘herb of immortality’? And how can it benefit you? Learn every single fact you need to know about this herb below.


What is Jiaogulan (Gynostemma Pentaphyllum)

The Gynostemma plant is a climbing vine which is native to Japan, Korea and China. In biology, it belongs to Cucurbitaceae family of plants, and therefore closely related to watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin and other melons and gourds. It’s often consumed as a herbal tea.

Ginseng Alternative: Because Jiaogulan is used in many countries around the world for centuries, it known by many different names over time. One common name is the ‘fiveleaf Gynostemma herb’ which is based on the leaf appearance. However, the plant is especially famous for the fact that it contains many chemical compound that’s also found in Ginseng. Moreover, all the compounds that are related to health benefits that consumption of ginseng could bring, they’re present in even higher concentrations in the Jiaogulan plant. Because of this, it’s also known by the following names: five-leaf ginseng, poor man’s ginseng, southern ginseng.


Jiaogulan Tea Benefits: What Is It Good For?

What we didn’t mention in the previous paragraph is that this plant is also known by another fancy name: the ‘Herb of Immortality’.

Herb of Immortality: This name originates from the Guizhou province in China, where people are known to become much older compared to averages in China. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners believe this is due to the daily consumption of Jiaogulan tea, arguing that this medicinal herb restores one’s ‘Qi’.

Anti Stress: Herbalists classify the tea as an ‘adaptogen’, which is a term applied to herbs that offer anti-stress benefits by helping the body to balance. Thus, one main Jiaogulan benefit is that it improves the immune system.

Jiaogulan & Parkinson’s Disease: Some Chinese researchers also argue that the herb also offers protection against oxidative stress in the brain that is responsible for Parkinson’s disease.

Cholesterol: Some studies in the 1980s and 1990s also show that Jiaogulan in combination with Sacred Lotus and Japanese Hawthorn, result in a decrease in cholesterol levels in mice.

While there are many Gynostemma tea benefits, make sure to also watch for the side effects which you can learn more about in the next paragraph.

Processing Jiaogulan

Side Effects: Is Jiaogulan Safe?

Nausea: Gynostemma tea can possibly cause some known side effects such as nausea and increased bowel movements.

Pregnancy: As good as the benefits might be, do avoid this herb during pregnancy and breast-feeding as not enough is known about the side effects when consumed in such situation.

Auto-Immune Disorder: Even though Jiaogulan causes the immune system to become more active. This can increase certain symptoms related to auto-immune diseases.

Slow Blood Clotting: At last, another side effect of Jiaogulan is that it might slow blood clotting or make such a medical disorder worse. Because of this, make sure to stop drinking Jiaogulan tea at least 1 month before any surgery is scheduled.

What Base Leaves Should I Use With Chrysanthemum Flowers And Rosebuds?

Here’s an interesting question we received from one of our readers:

I’m looking to create a gift blend for my guests. The ingredients that I want to use are Chrysanthemum flowers and Rosebuds. What could a suitable tea to use as a base for the blend?

Here’s the answer based on consultations of different tea experts in our circle:

The Best Base Might Be No Base

To fully enjoy the aroma and taste of rosebuds and chrysanthemum, it could be an idea to not use a base at all. After all, the flavor of tea can cover the flower’s natural taste. If that’s what you treasure then feel comfortable without adding a base tea at all.

rosebuds and chrysanthemum blend

Base Pu Erh Tea for Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum tend to go well with pu erh tea. For a blend only loose pu erh teas are suitable. Preferably a ripe pu erh as they are usually more smooth to go with flowers. When choosing this as a base, add more Chrysanthemum flowers relative to Rosebuds.

Base Black Tea For Rosebuds

Rosebuds go well with black tea. Any black tea can be suitable, except for smoky ones. In such a case, add more rosebuds relative to chrysanthemum flowers. This non-smoked Lapsang Souchong can be a good choice, because it has a light flavor of pinewood that goes well with the flower aroma.

White Tea, A Safe Choice

A light tasting base could be also a good choice as it doesn’t covers the fragrance of the flowers. A white tea, such as the bai mu dan or silver needle, or light green tea are great options.

Did you Know There Are 3 Types of Chrysanthemum Flowers?

New Record: 2150 Years Old Tea Found In Tomb

A 30 year old pu erh cake is old? Guess what Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered that a tea has been found in the tombs of the Han Dynasty Emperor Jing Di who died in 141 BC.

The leaves of this at least 2150 year old tea are identified to be the finest consisting of tea buds and small unopened leaves. This proofs that he really loved tea!

Other items found included weapons, pottery figurines, an ‘army’ of ceramic animals and several real full size chariots complete with their horses. While this is pretty extravagant, those items are more usual for tombs in Chang’an (today known also as Xian). Good news is that the tomb can now be visited.

May 2016 UPDATE

This new record old tea is now recognized by the Guinness Book of Records.

The oldest tea leaves are now also displayed in the Han Yang Ling museum of Xian! Here’s a sneak preview


Tea Loving Jing Di Emperor

After some research we found that the tea drinking emperor Jing Di was a pretty important and popular person in the Han Dynasty. He was a fairly liberal ruler who was determined to give people a better living standard by slashing taxes and reducing the power of the aristocracy.

Han_Jingdi emperor 2150 old tea


Tea Can Fight Antibiotics Resistant Bacteria Such As E-Coli

Here’s a new article on the health benefits of tea, in particular focused on green tea and black tea extracts.

Turning Tea Into Medical Breakthroughs

Summary: this stat might shock you: every year more than 2 million Americans get infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria. The most recent e-Coli bacteria is a good example. New research now shows that tea can fight bacteria. Is tea the answer? This quote is particularly interesting:

“These processed green tea and black tea extracts have the potential to extend the life and the degree of efficacy for antibiotics and, in doing so, help stem the tide of widespread resistance to antibiotics. In addition, the anti-microbial effects of these compositions and methods can be used in a variety of other applications, including the increase of shelf-life for food through the neutralization of food-borne pathogens or even to decontaminate devices or surfaces.”


Best Tea Plant Growing Conditions For Camellia Sinenses Tea Trees

All types of leaf teas are processed using the Camellia Sinenses tea plant and there are certain environmental factors that make a region suitable for growing tea trees or tea plants. Please note that the conditions described below are only valid for growing Camellia Sinenses. Thus it does not apply to other types of plants that might be used for herbal teas (tisanes).

tea plant growing

Tea Growing Conditions

Generally the Camellia Sinenses plant demonstrate a strong capability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions:

  1. An annual average temperature of 15-25 degrees Celsius
  2. No significant period of frost
  3. Moderate to evenly distributed rainfall of above 1,000 mm per year
  4. Annual average humidity of 70-80%
  5. Mountain area; hillsides with loose soil with good drainage
  6. Soil PH value of 4.5 to 6.5

The map below shows which areas in China are suitable and comply to the conditions above:
tea growing regions china map xinan huanan jiangnan jiangbei

Source: Hangzhou Chinese Tea Culture Exchange Association