Bi Luo Chun (literally “Green Snail Spring”) is one of the teas, alongside Long Jing (“Dragon Well,”) that appears almost universally on “Top Ten Chinese Teas” lists. Grown in Jiang Su Province, it is quite a wonderful tea. Teas Etc’s Bi Lo Chun Reserve is an excellent offering of this very famous tea.
From Teas Etc’s website:
“The brew is barely golden and the aroma unassuming. The taste is that of a very light, flaky pastry that just melts on your tongue, leaving behind a delicate icing to envelope your taste buds in a warm embrace. After a few sips, your whole body feels lighter, wrapped in a cocoon of ultimate relaxation.”
Bi Luo Chun is certainly a distinctive tea, very unlike any other Chinese green teas I have had. The pre-brewed leaf is unusual in appearance: small, thin, curly leaves, dark greyish-green with dusty white hairs on the surface. Teas Etc’s description of its taste as pastry-like seems fitting, and I would add that it exhibits notes of pure roasted cacao beans, which are very unlike the chocolate the bean is generally transformed into.
I remember the first time I ever tasted Bi Luo Chun, at one of my favorite Chinese tea shops, quite some time ago. The tea was radically unlike any tea I’d ever tasted. I found it irresistible and bought some. At home, days later, displaying a somewhat embarrassing lack of attention to detail, I brewed some of it with water that was too hot and it tasted horrible, even though I had used only a very short infusion of 10-20 seconds. Once I remembered how the tea seller had prepared it during the tasting – brewing it in a gaiwan after cooling the water for a couple of minutes in a glass pitcher – I was able to duplicate her results and produced a very delicious tasting brew from the tea. I have found that Bi Luo Chun lends itself very nicely to brewing in a Chinese glass thermos also, and can yield 4-6 very pleasant infusions using this method.
An interesting side note is that Bi Luo Chun Red – the same leaves, but fully oxidized into a black tea – is sometimes available. Naturally it has a very different character, but it is also quite delicious.
Chinese Teas 101 has a thorough description of Bi Luo Chun, from the plant to the finished product, and it’s an entertaining read. The article includes lots of interesting photographs of the process.
There’s also additional good information on Bi Luo Chun on Amazing Green Tea.
August 11, 2009 at 11:28 am
sounds like a very nice tea just have to watch out how hot the water is ill have to check into getting some of that.
August 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm
Rather off-topic, but I assume these are pictures you take yourself (always)? If so, do you know where I could get that wooden coaster/trivet? 🙂
I’m amazed at how light it looks! It’s terribly intriguing. If only I didn’t have so much tea already….
August 12, 2009 at 9:41 am
Yes, I do take all of the photos myself. That is a bamboo coaster, and it has the characters 茶器典藏 (cha qi dian cang) in the center. I have four of them and I think that I bought them locally, at New Century Tea Gallery in Seattle. I don’t know of any place that has them online, but perhaps a place that has a large selection of Gongfu Cha supplies or on eBay. Good luck!
August 14, 2009 at 1:54 am
This was one of the first teas I also discovered in my exploration of different varieties. And I even started with the Teas Etc brand. I was able to taste that flaky pastry and its frosting too. It’s certainly going to be sensitive to water temperature and time of steeping, and when done right will yield a rewarding cup of tea.
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August 21, 2009 at 2:14 am
I’ve never had this tea, but looks like it could be very enjoyable. Im going to ask my friend in China if he could test it out for me
July 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm
yes, the bi luo chun is very famous in china , the y order the tea before the tea product.if you taste them you can find this beatiful tea in remeber