Bi Luo Chun Green Tea – the “Spring Green Snail” of Chinese Teas
Bi Luo Chun (also: “Pi Luo Chun” or “Bilochun”) is a green tea, whose cultivation during the past centuries has spread from its place of origin on Dongting Mountain near Lake Tai („The Great Lake“) in the Chinese province Jiangsu via the Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces further south and west to even Yunnan. Bi Luo Chun green tea is recognized immediately by the unique appearance of the characteristically rolled tea leaves, resembling the shape of a snail.
Verbally translated, Bi Luo Chun means „green snail spring“, and as the case with most famous Chinese teas, there also is a legend about how this tea got this name: once, at the times of the Qing dynasty, the then Chinese emperor Kanxi in the 38th year of his reign, i.e. in 1692, when visiting Lake Tai and trying local green tea asked how this tea was called. Thereupon, he was told that because this tea had such an astounding fragrance, they’d call it Xia Sha Ren Xiang 吓煞人香, „Astounding Fragrance”. However, learning this, the emperor then found that this name didn’t live up to the noble character of the tea, which instead deserved a title better reflecting the teas elegant and exquisite features. And so, he ordered that – based on the said appearance reminiscent of a snail – this tea should from then on be called 碧螺春Bi Luo Chun, Green Spring Snail.
All common listings of high regarded Chinese teas rank Bi Luo Chun among the Ten Great Teas of China, and mostly on one of the top ranks. The shoots of the already early in spring harvested tea are so delicate and tender that 14000 – 15000 of them must be picked for just one kilogram of tea. At its place of origin, the taste of Bi Luo Chun is dominated by a smooth fruity-floral note. This, however, gives way to a more nutty taste in cultivation regions located further west, such as Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.
Our Ancient Tree Bi Luo Chun comes from Wu Liang Mountain in the Chinese province of Yunnan, where it is handpicked at altitudes around 2000m from tea trees planted more than 200 years ago from Yan Kai, the present operator’s ancestors. After picking, the tea is sundried and – before being manually rolled into the characteristic snail shape – processed according to a secret method that has been passed on within the Yang family from generation to generation ever since. Besides the depth and energy typically inherent to teas from ancient tea trees and the known health benefits of green tea in general, this Bi Luo Chun convinces in particular with its full and rich body formed by nutty taste notes with a fine touch of pine needle and a lightly sweet finish.
The family venture’s specialization in only one tea instead of a more commercially oriented portfolio of various teas and the focus resulting thereof have enabled an unusual degree of refinement and further development of the art of Bi Luo Chun processing during the past 200 years. The Yang family is especially proud of their high organic and biodiversity standards. Not only conforms their Bi Luo Chun to the principles of organic tea cultivation, but beyond that their tea garden represents a biodiverse, nature-oriented eco system.
For a first infusion, pour hot water of 85°-90°C temperature over 3 grams of Ancient Tree Bi Luo Chun Green Tea rolled leaves and infuse for 1-2 minutes (in a teapot; in a Gaiwan stay clearly below 1 minute). Add several seconds for each subsequent infusion to yield altogether 5 – 6 delicious steeps.