Lü Yiming

Rows of Longjing (Dragon Well) green tea bushes on the sloping hillside tea gardens, with mountains in the background.
Rows of Longjing tea bushes in this fully organic tea garden in Zhejiang Province.
Two men standing over a wok with Longjing green tea leaves in it, one with a hand in the wok demonstrating and one learning.
Tea master Lü Yiming teaching Austin how to fry Longjing (Dragon Well) green tea.

Lü Yiming is the lead tea master and chief supervisor for the exacting quality standards in his tea production facility in Xinchang County, Zhejiang Province. He has over 30 years of experience making Longjing (Dragon Well) tea, the most famous type of green tea in China.

Mr. Lü has been frying Longjing tea for decades and is an expert educator on the specific, refined hand-frying techniques necessary to create the tea’s signature flat-leaf “bookmark” shape. While many companies now fry their tea by machine for at least part of the process, a round of skilled hand frying is still critical to properly shaping the leaf to the Longjing standard. This difficult frying technique presses the leaf flat while gathering the bud and leaves into a single continuous whole instead of letting them splay out from the stem.

Lü Yiming spent many years helping develop the standards for Da Fo Longjing (Big Buddha Dragon Well), Xinchang County’s official regional green tea brand. Production standards are closely monitored and managed by the county government for consistent excellent quality.

As part of developing the standards for Da Fo Longjing, the Xinchang government allocated a large tract of land to create a fully organically managed tea garden. They avoid all pesticides and herbicides and use only natural fertilizers. This garden has become an exemplary model for Longjing tea production and has become an educational center that trains other companies in the skills needed to grow, process, and fry Longjing tea and to manage their gardens.

Four people gathered outside of a building.
Zhuping and Austin visiting Longjing tea maker Lü Yiming and his son at their tea factory in Xinchang County.

Many different Longjing tea cultivars grow here, including the early flushing varieties Wu Niu Zao and Ying Shuang, the later varieties Jiu Keng and Longjing #43, as well as the local heirloom variety. Because of his familiarity with the different cultivars, Mr. Lü has developed the skill to blend the different varieties for a consistent, stable Longjing flavor and aroma every year. As Seven Cups purchases this tea every year, we can provide information on which varieties were used in that year’s blend directly from Mr. Lü.