The West Lake

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West Lake
West Lake

West Lake (Chinese: 西湖; pinyin: Xī Hú; Wu: Si-wu) is a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, China. It is divided into five sections by three causeways. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake.

The first one is Spring Dawn at Su Causeway (苏堤春晓).

It is a thin strip of land nearly three kilometers long covered with peach and weeping willow trees. In spring, with the lakeside and dew sparkling in the morning , birds cheerfully chirping among swaying willow branches, the scent of peach blossoms wafting through the air, you’ll question whether you’re in the midst of paradise.

Su Causeway is, located in the western area of West Lake and stretched from the northern slope of Nanping Hill to Beishan Hill with a total length of 2,797 meters and width of 30 to 40 meters. It was constructed with the silt dredged up from West Lake during the reign of Yuanyou of the Northern Song Dynasty (1086-1093). The lake dredging project was taken in charge by Su Dongpo, a great Chinese poet and artist, when he was the prefect of Hangzhou in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).Which, is stands first among the “Ten Poetically Named Scenic Places of West Lake”.

Spring Dawn at Su Causeway
Spring Dawn at Su Causeway
The second one is Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden(曲院风荷)

This typical West Lake scene has earned its fame since the Southern Song Dynasty, when the lakeside area with an abundant growth of lotus off its shores was known as Crooked Courtyard, and was the location of a brewery. People said the smell of lotus flowers and wine blended by the cool lake breezes was intoxicating. There are plenty of lotus plants still bloom off its shores. They stand gracefully erect in the lake, as if they knew they had visitors coming to admire their beauty.

Breeze ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden
Breeze ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden
The third one is Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake(平湖秋月)

At the western end of Bai Causeway is located a lakeside park which houses a stone tablet bearing the etched calligraphy of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty, which reads: “Autumn Moon on Calm Lake”. The lake is a special place to appreciate the moon and the effect of moonlight on the land. The moon seems especially bright over the waters. The hills look purplish bathed in the moonlight. The best time for nighttime viewing is on Mid-Autumn Day.

Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake
Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake
The fourth one is Melting Snow on the Broken Bridge(断桥残雪 )

It is most romantic scene of the ten must-see. The stone-arched Broken Bridge is where the characters of a famous Chinese folktale, Xu Xian and a beautiful girl Baisuzhen, who is actually a white snake and named, first met and fell in love with each other.
After a snowfall, when the snow on the more exposed side has melted, with the shaded side remaining white, it looks as if a long white belt has been ripped apart on the bridge, thus earning the name “Melting Snow on the Broken Bridge”.

The fifth one is Viewing Fish at Flower Pond(花港观鱼).

Flower Pond Park occupies an area of twenty-one hectares on a peninsula in the southwest corner of the lake. In its heart is the Red Fish Pond, where people can relax to the sight of brightly colorful fish swimming around and to the brisk melody(旋律) of birdsong. To stay with nature is a highly enjoyable experience.

The sixth one is Orioles Singing in the Willows(柳浪闻莺).

An imperial garden built up in the Southern Song Dynasty. Now the once-imperial garden has been turned into a park open to all. Featuring green willows and singing orioles, there are lawns, pavilions, and bridges that are very impressive, as well.

The seventh one is Three Pools Mirroring the Moon(三潭印月).

Just off the southern shore of the Island of Little Oceans stand three small stone pagodas that seem to float on the water. Each about 2 meters high, when candles are placed inside on moonlit nights, the effect is of 4 moons dancing on the shimmering night waters. The scene is especially magical when the giant glowing moon on the night of Mid-Autumn Day is overhead.

The eighth one is Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill(南屏晚钟).

Nanping Mountain stretches along the southern bank of the Lake. At dusk, with the sun slowly drifting into the Lake on the west, a huge bell at Jingxi Temple, will ring its farewell to the last sunbeam of the day. With the prolonged bell sound reverberating across the Lake, the peaceful and sacred air offers you a perfect occasion for meditation.

The ninth one is Twin Peaks Piercing the Cloud(双峰插云).

Gaze at the skies above West Lake, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of two limestone mountains past the northern edge of the lake, one to the northeast and one to the northwest, five kilometers apart. On a drizzling day in spring or autumn, the two peaks come and go amongst the drifting rain clouds.

The tenth one is Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Cloud (雷峰夕照)

Leifeng Pagoda is another renowned scenic spot in Hangzhou. Originally built in the 10th century, Leifeng Pagoda used to stand in front of Jingxi Temple on Nanping Mountain; However,it was failed to stand the test of time, the Pagoda collapsed in early 1900s. In 2002, Leifeng Pagoda was reconstructed; then comes back the typical Sunset Glow over Leifeng Pagoda.

Leifeng Pagoda
Leifeng Pagoda

Generally speaking, it is advisable for a tourist to have a two-day tour of the West Lake and scenic spots around it. As a tourist, you will find the trip to Hangzhou both pleasant and culturally rewarding.
Hangzhou residents have their way of enjoying the beauty of the West Lake. According to them, “The West Lake looks more delightful on rainy days than on clear days, but it is at its best after darkness has fallen”. When you are in Hangzhou, you ought to go and take in the charm of the lake for yourself to see if the comment is true.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Attractions Opening Hours Ticket Price
West Lake All day long Free of Charge
Leifeng Pagoda Mar. 16 – Apr.: 08:00 – 19:00
May – Oct.: 08:00 – 20:00
Nov. – Mar. 15: 08:00 – 17:30
Ticket selling stops half an hour before closing.
CNY 40;
Free for children less than 1.2 meters.
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon 8:00- 17:00 CNY 55 (including the boat ticket)

 

Longjing tea

Longjing tea is from longjing,West Lake, Hangzhou. It is a top-grade green tea.
It is recorded that tea was produced in longjing in the Tang Dynasty. In the Qing Dynasty longjing tea was the favourite one of Emperor Qianlong.
It is made of tea shoot. They are green,fragrant, sweet and beautiful-four unique characteristics of Longjing tea.
In the past there were mainly four brands of longjing tea:“shi,”“long,”“yun,”and“hu”. They were the four brands of Longjing tea produced in Shifeng, Longjing,Yunqi and Hupao respectively.
Now they are classified into three brands: “shi,”“long,”and“mei.”“Mei” is the Longjing tea produced in Meijiaawu.

longjing tea
Legends

Longjing tea was granted the status of Gong Cha, or imperial tea, in the Qing dynasty by the Kangxi Emperor. According to the legend,The Kangxi Emperor’s grandson, the Qianlong Emperor, visited West Lake during one of his famous holidays.

He went to the Hu Gong Temple under the Lion Peak Mountain (Shi Feng Shan) and was presented with a cup of Longjing tea. In front of the Hu Gong Temple were 18 tea bushes. The Qianlong Emperor was so impressed by the Longjing tea produced here that he conferred these 18 tea bushes special imperial status. The trees are still living and the tea they produce is auctioned annually for higher price per gram than gold. There is another legend connecting the Qianlong Emperor to Longjing tea. It is said that while visiting the temple he was watching the ladies picking the tea. He was so enamored with their movements that he decided to try it himself. While picking tea he received a message that his mother, Empress Dowager Chongqing, was ill and wished his immediate return to Beijing. He shoved the leaves he had picked into his sleeve and immediately left for Beijing. Upon his return he immediately went to visit his mother. She noticed the smell of the leaves coming from his sleeves and he immediately had it brewed for her. It is said that the shape of Longjing Tea was designed to mimic the appearance of the flattened leaves that the emperor brewed for his mother.

Longjing, which literally translates as “dragon well,” is said to have named after a well that contains relatively dense water, and after rain the lighter rainwater floating on its surface sometimes exhibits a sinuous and twisting boundary with the well water, which is supposed to resemble the movement of a Chinese dragon.

Legend also has it that to achieve the best taste from Longjing, water from the Dreaming of the Tiger Spring, a famous spring in Hangzhou, is to be used. The water quality of the spring now is certainly very different than before. The tea takes its name from the eponymous “Dragon Well” located near Longjing village.

Authentic Longjing

There are various definitions of Longjing; however a common definition is that authentic Longjing at least has to come from the Zhejiang province in China,with the most conservative definition restrict the type to the various villages and plantations in the West Lake area in Hangzhou. It can also be defined as any tea grown within the Xihu District.A large majority of Longjing tea on the market however is actually not from Hangzhou. Many of these inauthentic longjing teas are produced in provinces such as Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Guangdong. However credible sellers may sometimes provide anti-fake labels or openly state that the tea is not from Zhejiang.

Experienced drinkers may be able to tell if Longjing is authentic by taste and smell. The aroma and flavors of the inauthentic Longjing teas are not as complex, or long-lasting as the authentic tea. These teas, although similar in appearance, are mild in flavor and aroma and do not have the long-lasting aftertaste of the original. Longjing has a signature chestnut aroma which is an easy way to tell a fake from a real.

Some tea makers take fresh tea leaves produced in Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces and process them using Longjing tea techniques; and some merchants mix a small amount of high-grade with low-grade tea, and sell it as expensive high-grade.

Pre-Qingming Longjing

The premium early season first-picking known as Ming Qian or Pre-Qingming (or Before Ching Ming) Longjing tea requires it to be produced from the first spring shoots prior to the Qingming Festival on the 5th of April each year (approximately). In accordance with the Chinese farming calendar, which is a national holiday between April 1–4, it rains. After the rain the temperature heats up causing the tea plant to grow faster. When the tea bud becomes too big it begins to lose complexity in the brewed flavor, therefore the pre-qingming tea is considered better.