It’s the beginning of spring, and in the tea world that means one thing: first flush teas! The first harvest, or “first flush” of the year yields the highest quality teas, both in taste and health benefits. We’re delighted to offer you our 2016 First Flush Dragonwell, a superb example of one of China’s 10 Famous Teas.As the cold of winter melts into the warmth of spring, tea plants near Hangzhou, a city in China’s Zhejiang province, sprout tender, new shoots. The plants have been storing up nutrients all winter, and they’ve released huge quantities into these tiny buds, packing them full of antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, catechins, flavonoids, and polyphenols. Just before the Qingming festival (April 4th), each new shoot is gently picked by hand to avoid bruising the delicate leaves. The buds are briefly oxidized, then pan-fired in large woks by master teamakers, stopping the oxidation and giving Dragonwell its signature flat-needle shape and fresh, nutty flavor.Making Dragonwell is truly a labor of love, as it’s entirely handcrafted. Every pound of tea contains thousands and thousands of buds, each one carefully selected for quality and consistency. An experienced tea picker may pick 4 ½ lbs of fresh tea buds in a 10-hour day, while the “trained hands” who pan-fire the leaves are each able to roast just half that amount.This year, the harvest was put in jeopardy by unusual weather. A March snowfall covered the new shoots before they were ready to be picked, freezing the leaves and damaging some of the top tea buds. Although much of the crop was saved, First Flush Dragonwell is even more rare and precious in 2016 than it was before.First Flush Dragonwell is one of the healthiest green teas available, with a 2004 British study naming it the “highest quality” out of nearly 200 teas tested. It contains particularly high levels of theanine, EGCG, ECG, caffeine, gallic acid, Vitamin C, and numerous other beneficial compounds. Studies have shown the compounds in Dragonwell to be effective in burning fat, improving brain function, lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Type II Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers, and in improving overall health. For a limited time, we’re offering free samples of First Flush Dragonwell for tasting at our West Hartford store. Stop in today and try this exquisite tea!