Exciting! Exciting! Mouth watering... heart beating... :-D
According to CCTV news report on Feb. 25, 2010, harvest on Da Fo Long Jing started on that day! To be more specific, the Wu Niu Zao (Black Buffalo Early) cultivar's harvest has started. We are still patiently waiting for our "real" Long Jing cultivar. But it won't be long before it's harvested too!
Let me mention our Da Fo Long Jing 2010 pre-order/group purchase, before I move on to write about the confusing situation of Long Jing - because sometimes even I myself would feel a bit exhausted after going over this issue :-p
I wrote a blog entry about Da Fo Long Jing a few weeks ago. Here is a little more explanation about the cultivars of Da Fo Long Jing.
Long Jing, sometimes is taken as a tea processing method, and sometimes is taken as name of a tea cultivar named Long Jing (actually a few similar cultivars). The second definition is surely less confusing, but both definitions are commonly in use in China now. I personally always prefer to use the term Long Jing only for Long Jing cultivar.
Wu Niu Zao (Black Buffalo Early) is a historically famous tea cultivar. It's from the Black Buffalo town of Zhejiang province, and the earliest green tea of Zhejiang - hence comes its name. It's a good tea, but coming out early means it's usually very expensive. The tea leaves are usually very young and refreshing, but most people believe its inner characters are not comparable to Long Jing cultivar. Wu Niu Zao is cultivated in Hangzhou (the central producing region of Zhejiang) tea plantations too, and the Wu Niu Zao products from Hangzhou will be labeled Hangzhou Long Jing, or Xi Hu (West Lake) Long Jing. However, I believe there is great discrepancy between Hangzhou Long Jing that's made with Wu Niu Zao and Hangzhou Long Jing that's made with Long Jing cultivar.
Currently, management on Long Jing title is stricter in the aspect of geographic origins. Only Long Jing from Hangzhou can be called Hangzhou Long Jing, and only Long Jing from within Zhejiang can be called Zhejiang Long Jing. Such regulation is helpful for consumer to recognize the "authentic" Long Jing, but it focuses more on geographic patent than cultivar labeling.
Now back to the above-mentioned Da Fo Long Jing. For price's sake, I plan to stick to Da Fo Long Jing rather than Hangzhou Long Jing in future a few years. And for flavor's sake, I plan to stick to the Long Jing cultivar rather than Wu Niu Zao cultivar. But for people who are really eager to get the shincha early, Wu Niu Zao does provide the fresh spring flavor the earliest, and spares you almost 6 weeks' time.
7 hours ago