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The Tea Nixon Drank When He Visited China

Tea is a drink that nourishes conversation, peace, and relationships. In fact, tea is a very diplomatic beverage and the world benefited from its powers when Nixon and Mao Zedong sipped on it during their famous 1972 talks.


The People's Republic of China (PRC) and the United States had a very tense relationship following the 2nd World War and hadn't talked up until 1972; that's over 20 years of diplomatic isolation. There were a number of elements that made the relationship between the two countries so tense. The first, and most important in the Cold War context, was that Mao Zedong had successfully orchestrated the Communist Revolution, and became the Chairman of the PRC in 1949. The PRC and US had fought against each other in Korea in the 1950s and during the Vietnam war, the Chinese had supported North Vietnam against the US. The combination of these scenarios, made the relationship tense, at best.


The international context changed in the early 1970s when tension also arose between the PRC and the Soviet Union. The United States saw this an opportunity to befriend the PRC, and gain leverage against the Soviets, simultaneously widening the divide between the two greatest communist powers of the world.


So, when Nixon visited the PRC in 1972 for a full week of talks, the stakes were high. Thankfully, there was tea to smooth things over.


Historical documents indicate President Nixon was offered a gift of Longjing tea from the Chinese during his visit. Longjing is one of the most popular and highly prized green teas of the world.


This green tea originated in a village called Longjing in Zhejiang Province, China, hence the name. Longjing green tea has a very distinct look and shape. The leaves are pan-fried and shaped so they're smooth and flat with a beautiful green color.


This tea is also known by another name- Dragonwell. The name "Dragonwell" originates from a myth behind the tea…


Thousands of years ago, there was a terrible drought in Longjing, China that brought hunger and devastation to the local people. A Buddhist monk knew there was a dragon living in the well of his village so he prayed that the dragon would bring water to his province. The dragon answered his prayers, and as clouds opened up and filled fields with water, tea plants were revived. Thus, the tea that grew was called Dragonwell green tea.


Nixon was offered this mythical tea at a turning point in history that marked the end of the diplomatic drought between China and the US, and the start of a much more engaged and lucrative relationship.


*image of Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai sharing a meal from

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