The Lung Ching Episode

Inspired by a good pot of Pu Erh tea a few weeks ago and followed by Sigma Delta’s suggestion, I embarked on a journey to discover the teas of the world at teayana – the tea lounge in Jeddah. I have tried a few teas on the menu since, including a rare variety: the Lung Ching or the Dragon Well teas.

As the story goes, a Chinese village was facing a severe drought in 250 AD and a Tao monk advised the villagers to pray to the dragon living in a nearby well to end the dry spell. The villagers obliged, the rains followed – and the village of “Lung Ching” or “Dragon Well” entered the history of tea. A monastery bearing that name stills stands next to the well to this day.

During the Qing dynasty, Emperor Qian Long had the opportunity to taste Lung Ching tea at the Wugong Temple and he was so impressed that he had eighteen of the tea trees at the temple designated as Imperial Tea, reserved for the Emperor himself.

Lung Ching is amongst the rare, connoisseur green teas on offer at teayana. Other exotic teas in the menu include the Japanese Gyokuro, Chinese Hunan Oolong, Zheijang Yin Luo No, Tai Mu along, Formosa Jade Oolong from Taiwan and teayana’s own Jasmine Pearl tea.

“This is China’s most famous tea and simply the best of the Lung Ching variety. It has more than a thousand years of recorded history and was mentioned in the first ever tea book (Cha Ching) by Lu Yu during the Tang Dynasty.

The exquisite, fat but narrow emerald green tea leaves have a shiny appearance after being carefully hand fried in a large wok. The tea leaves easily sink to the bottom of the cup during infusion and a pleasant aroma arises which is refreshingly light with a hint of fruit and nut combined. The aftertaste is almost instantaneous, filling your mouth with a sweetness reminiscent of grape fruit. It may be enjoyed plain from morning to late afternoon and is best without milk.”

reads The Book of Tea at teayana.

Overwhelmed by the stories, recommendations and an undeniable charm of the stories, I order a pot of Lung Ching.

The tea arrives with a mini-hourglass that would indicate the perfect brewing time. I watch the fine grains of coloured sand seep through like a tiny waterfall, as the hot water in the pot slowly begins to turn to the colour of the morning sun.

After three minutes, I am ready to taste the exotic, light golden colour tea brewed from “fried” tea leaves. Never in my wildest dreams that I imagined tea would be brewed from ‘fried’ leaves!

The last few grains of sand seep through the narrow neck in the hour-glass as I eagerly wait to taste the tea. I resist myself from snatching a sachet of sugar on impulse, sometimes it’s hard to let go of the nasty habits of drinking tea Sri Lankan style.

I hold the cup with both hands and enjoy the warmth for a moment. As I take a deep breath, the Lung Ching fragrance titillates my senses. The aroma is gentle and inviting. I take the first sip and let it penetrate my taste buds. I love the first sip, and struggle to find words to describe the taste.


Yes, Lung Ching tastes like green tea with a hint of grass. But, in a very good way.

Camellia sinensis or the tea plant grows taller than 10 meters (33ft) typically, if left untrimmed. The No 1 “King Tree” found in the mountainous region of Pu Erh, China, is 2,700 years old, 25.6 metres (85 ft) tall, with a root diameter of 1.2 m (4 ft). These ancient tea trees are protected and the leaves are not allowed to be picked. Sri Lanka’s tallest tea tree can be found in Dambetenna Estate, Haputale and it is around 18 metres (60 ft) in height.


  1. Thank you for this interesting information. I never guessed that a tea plant could be like a tree, and such a tall one!

  2. Anonymous, you are welcome. ;)

    There are some Chinese blogs where you could see the pictures of “tea jungles” - unfortunately they are in Chinese.

    You can check out some of the pics here:

  3. *goes to brew grass*


    Also, where is this tea place? In Jeddah at the moment, wanna go visit fancy tea place!!!

  4. Hi Sabby, welcome to the neighbourhood. Like the weather these days I hope. ;)

    Teayana has three outlets – one in Khalidiya, behind Saudia City, on Rawda Street. Opposite McDonalds and the good Indian Restaurant. There’s another one in Hamra/Andalus opposite the American Embassy, on the cornice side. Just before Chili’s, adjoining Café Blanc. The third one is in the Red Sea Mall – haven’t been there yet. But check out the website (link above in the article).

  5. Never knew tea can be so fascinating...but fried tea...and grass taste...hmmmmm

  6. Man I like to see those tea trees, did some research and next visit to China later this year, a definite goal.

  7. Lol - that is easily one of the best tea drinking experiences I've read - Bravo! A serving of Dragon Well is general consumed over a period of hours, as you keep topping the glass up with hot water... each subsequent serving becomes milder and there is distinctive difference in taste between that 1st and last cup.

    I've no doubt that the Chinese make some of the most exotic teas in the world,some with amazing attributes. But I got to say, the best cups of tea I've drunk are those sitting on the varandha of a Planter's bungalow or at an up country Rest House, somewhere in the hill country - that brisk, milky sweet cup, reddish yellow; watching the mist roll by, breathing fresh mountain air!

  8. @sue: Yeah, it’s the story more than the tea, actually. ;)

    @magerata: China is heaven for those who know how to appreciate simple things in life. Great food too. Hope you will be able to make the trip.

    @Sigma Delta: Forgive me for my amateurish comparison, but that is the closest a layman could get. LOL.

    Yes, I too totally agree. Having roots in the hill country, I too had the luxury of tasting tea in old British bungalows – that is indeed a wonderful experience.

    But what a pity that we don’t have any “cultural aspect” associated with tea-drinking in Sri Lanka. There’s no art of tea. I mean, we don’t even have unique cups, let alone ceremonies... Oh, and then, we don’t drink tea - its ‘tea flavoured’ sugar syrup!

  9. Neh, neh, far be it an amateurish comparison, it was indeed most descriptive! The closest 'cultural aspect' I think is either the rural practice of drinking tea from little shot glasses, or the formal cup you get served up country!

  10. I like how you've described the experience! :D

  11. Btw, took a look at those tea trees... whoa, huuuuuge! :O