As we discussed before, we all know West Lake Longjing tea is from three major production regions. Today, we are going over for the earliest spring Longjing tea, Wu Niu Zao, and compare to authentic West Lake Longjing tea #43 and Old Longjing(original Longjing).
Authentic Longjing 43 and Wu Niu Zao Longjing tea are very difficult to be distinguished, but experienced Longjing regulars will never be confused by these two similar looking green teas. It's really hard to distinguish between the Wu Niu Zao Longjing and Longjing 43 on the appearance. But differences can always be found in comparison. There are opportunities for both to be cleared and understood what the differences of Longjing 43 and Wu Niu Zao Longjing.
Color difference: the overall color of the Wu Niu Zao Longjing dry tea leaves are basically green, and the Longjing 43 tea leaves are relatively yellowish green. The color of Old Longjing dry tea leaves is brown and the tea is freshly yellow.
Fragrance: Wu Niu Zao Longjing is somewhat little grassy compared to Longjing 43, the taste is relatively lighter. "Longjing 43" is mellower, smoother and sweeter.
Shape: the tea buds of Wu Niu Zao Longjing are short, plump and thick, which the shapes are looked more beautiful. The bud head of Longjing 43 is slender and stretched. (The early Longjing 43 bud head is also thicker and stronger) Longjing 43 also has another unique sign, the end of tea stem has a red tip.
The differences of Longjing 43, Old Longjing and Wu Niu Zao Longjing
Major cultivars of Longjing(Dragon Well)
Old Longjing tea tree is the earliest variety of Longjing tree. It belongs to natural reproduction and must be cultivated with tea.
Longjing No.43 is cuttage plant, cultivated from some of the primarily selected and earliest germinated Old Longjing trees. The shapes of dry tea leaves are neat, fine and tender, looked more beautiful, greener than Old Longjing. Longjing 43 has a red tip, which is more slender and beautiful. The buds look straight and tight. Longjing 43 retains the excellent quality of Old Longjing, which is more fragrant and elegant, and is more acceptable to everyone.
Wu Niu Zao is mainly produced from a tea cultivar in Wu Niu Town, Wenzhou. Due to its early germination, it is named Wu Niu Zao("zao" means "early" in Chinese). Wu Niu Zao Longjing has a cultivation history of more than 300 years. Its biggest feature is the "zao". Under normal circumstances, West Lake Longjing and Dongting Bi Luo Chun come a month after Wu Niu Zao Longjing tea. Because of the early germination, there are more and more tea farmers around Hangzhou have started to cultivate Wu Niu Zao. If no hazard weather occurred, and proper managed, Wu Niu Zao tea can be harvested right after Chinese Spring Festival. Otherwise, natural disasters (freezing spring weather) could have produced no harvest.
If someone sells the first flush of Longjing at the very early of spring, like what we just said the time after Chinese Spring Festival, it should be the Wu Niu Zao Longjing. The West Lake Longjing has not yet been picked at this time. We previously wrote about category of West Lake Dragon Well. As we all know, due to differences in conditions such as origin, climate, temperature, etc., new tea is marketed mostly in proper order from south region to north region every year. Wu Niu Town is about hundred miles south from West Lake Production Area that definitely has no doubt the first flush Longjing tea is ready on the market a month earlier than West Lake Longjing.