Spring is a special time in Hangzhou. The Longjing tea fields are flush with bright green tea leaves for harvest, accompanied by a flurry of activity. Demure ladies in straw hats pick tea in rolling fields while men roast the leaves in pans. A long train of cars in bumper-to-bumper traffic clamour to buy the prized first tea of the season, bringing a sense of excitement akin to the rush for new Beaujolais wine.
If you don’t want to buy tea, having a meal in a restaurant such as Longjing 67 is a great way to take in the atmosphere. To get to Longjing 67, you go all the way down Longjing road, up the steep hill, past the gate for Longjing Village (龙井村) and continue along the road until the address reads Longjing 67. This restaurant has the only English signage in the village so it’s easy to spot. On a blackboard at the foot of a small ramp, the daily specials are written in English and Chinese. Often, Joanna and her boyfriend George, who speaks English, will be around to welcome guests.
Joanna’s family has been in the Longjing tea business for many years and they recently decided to open a restaurant serving their own tea and food cooked by Joanna’s father who worked many years as a chef in Hangzhou’s restaurants. Customers can dine outside on the patio surrounded by pretty pots of tulips and azaleas. They have set meals that are easy for one person to eat and farm-style dishes for many people to share.
The set meals (67RMB) consist of a glass of Longjing tea and a plate of rice with toppings like eggs and tomato or sliced cold chicken and vegetables. From the farm-style dishes, Longjing Shrimp (龙井虾仁, 98RMB) had large, crystalline shrimps fragranced with Longjing tea leaves, the West Lake Vinegar Fish (西湖醋鱼, 88RMB) was very fresh and the Braised Tofu with Pork Mince and Special Sauce (密制肉沫豆腐, 28RMB) would be the dish I come back for – it’s a Hangzhou version of MaPo DoFu but with a sweet sauce, green onions and just a bit of Sichuan peppercorns for kick.
Make the most of springtime in Hangzhou and come out to sip some tea or eat a lovely meal at Longjing 67.