The present-day flat shape of Dragon Well Tea is said to have something to do with Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. Legend has it that on one of his inspection tours to Hangzhou, Emperor Qianlong disguised himself as an ordinary man and came to the Hugong Temple at the foot of Shifeng Mountain near Dragon Well Village. An old monk served him some Dragon Well Tea of the West Lake. After drinking it, Emperor Qianlong instantly felt refreshed and fell in love with the sweet-smelling tea. So much so, he personally picked some tea leaves and hurriedly placed inside his pocket to bring them back to the capital city.
After the long journey, the tender tea leaves were pressed flat but still greatly praised by the empress dowager. Emperor Qianlong therefore granted the tea tree in front of the Hugong temple "imperial tea" and ordered the annual tribute of baked flat tea leaves for the exclusive enjoyment of the empress dowager. This is just a legend. The flat shape of Dragon Well tea is generally believed to be influenced by Dafang tea of neighboring Anhui area in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty.
By Explore Cultural China