Bi Luo Chun tea

Tea recommendation: Bi Luo Chun

The name Bi Luo Chun was given by Emperor Kangxi and means “Green Snail Spring”. Of course this is a purely descriptive term for the spiral form of the tea which resembles cooked snail meat. This variety is often described as smooth and fresh tasting with a sweet aftertaste. Unusual for green tea, it has a floral aroma and fruity flavor. In several plantations the tea bushes are grown between fruit trees which enrich the Bi Luo Chun tea with its floral and fruity note. The fruit trees also shield the tea plants from sunlight and elements, keeping the bushes small and its leaves tender. It is an ideal tea to be brewed in a zisha clay teapot.
Good quality Bi Luo Chun has downy white hair and is sorted and roasted the same day it is picked. Young tea leaves are naturally covered by little hair which will show if handled with care during the tea making process. The better grade Bi Luo Chun tea you have the lower the brewing temperature you start with. Normally around 80-85°C (thats 175-185°F) increasing the temperature each time you brew. It can be brewed several times from the same leaves and similar to oolong teas it improves with reuse. It is common to brew the same leaves three to five times, the third or fourth steeping usually being the best. Bi Luo Chun is regarded very highly by Chinese tea connoisseurs. Zhen Jun who lived in the late 19th century, author of tea encyclopedia Cha Shuo, ranked it first among Chinese green tea, before Longjing tea and Liuan Gua Pian. The best Bi Luo Chun is cultivated in Jiangsu province on Dong Shan (East Mountain) near Dong Ting, about 20km south-west of Yixing. Similar tea is also grown in Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces but hey differ in taste (more nutty than fruity) and are generally of lower quality. If you use a zisha clay teapot to brew a fine tea like this it is best to only use the pot for one kind of tea as it is porous and ‘remembers’ the flavor. If you are interested in purchasing authentic Bi Luo Chun tea have a look on the right hand menu under shopping. In one of my next posts I might write some more about the roasting process and how a tea like Bi Luo Chun is made.

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