Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Story of Hanzhou West Lake Dragon Well Tea

Hanzhou West Lake Dragon Well Tea is the best green tea in China and is well-known around the world. It has over a thousand years of history. The tea’s name originates from a local folk story. Dragon Well is a well in the West Lake district of Hanzhou, China. A long time ago, a single old woman lived near the Dragon Well. The woman was very kind and was happy to help others. She did not have daughters and sons and her husband had died. She had eighteen common old wild tea trees surrounding the well. Her house was very close to an important path for farmers living in South Hill village to the downtown of the West Lake district. In order to facilitate passers for rest, she put a desk and several chairs in her yard. In addition, she cooked a pot of tea for passers every day using tea-leaves taken from the old tea trees. As time went by, she became famous for passers. In the winter of a year when the Chinese Spring Festival was coming soon, there was a heavy snow. It was very cold and the wild tea trees could be freezing to death. The woman worried about it. At this time, there were a lot of pedestrians on the path because people needed to go to the downtown to buy goods for the coming Spring Festival. They had a rest in the woman’s yard as usual. One of pedestrians, an old wise man, found the woman was not happy. So he spoke to the woman and asked her whether her goods for the Spring Festival were ready. The woman took a deep breath and answered that she did not have money to buy goods. And she complained that she was worrying that she could not provide the tea for passers in the next year because her wild tea trees could die of frost in this winter. Suddenly the man looked at an old stone mortar in the woman’s yard and his eyes sparkled with excitement. He pointed to the mortar and told the woman that she had a treasure. The woman could not believe it. She replied that the man could get it for free if he wanted. However, the man would not like to have it for free and he wanted to pay 500 grams of silver to the woman for it. The woman, however, insisted that she could not accept the money. Later, the man said that he firstly went home and then would ask some young people to help him to move this mortar to his home tomorrow. Then he was gone. The woman looked at the mortar and found a lot of rubbish in it. The woman would feel ashamed if she gave such a dirty and old mortar to others. Therefore she decided to clean it up. She took the rubbish out of the mortar and buried it at the foot of the old wild tea trees. She also cleaned the mortar using the water from the Dragon Well. In the next day, the man came with several companions. When he saw the mortar at first sight, he started to yell to the woman. He asked the woman where his treasure was. The woman was surprised and confused since she thought he might be happy because she cleaned the mortar. She pointed at the mortar and said that it was still there. The man shook his head and said no. He continued to ask the woman where she put the rubbish in the mortar. The woman pointed to the old wild tea trees and said that she buried the rubbish at the foot of these trees. The man walked to the trees. Then, he told the woman that it was a great pity because the rubbish in the mortar was unique and was the real treasure that he wanted. He also said the rubbish would help the tea trees a lot. After that, he left with his companions. Later, the spring of the next year came. The tea trees not only survived in the last cold winter, but also put out a lot of new shoots. Moreover, the tea-leaves taken from the trees looked fine and tasted tender and smelt sweet. Later, the neighbors of this old woman grew more of this kind of tea trees across several hills in proximity. This kind of tea grown in this area was becoming famous in the following years owing to its high quality. And people called it – Hanzhou West Lake Dragon Well Tea. (FL, China)

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