|Name||Dōngshān bìluóchūn / 东山碧螺春|
|English||East Mountain Green Snail Spring|
|Region||East Mountain, Jiangsu|
|Manufacture||Hot air-fired green tea|
|Flavor||Assertive, thirst-quenching and astringent|
|Aroma||Deceptively soft and mild, fresh|
|Brewing||Brew two or three minutes at 80-85 C.|
Biluochun is yet another green tea in the Top Ten list. Known for it’s fragrant taste it is harvested with a labor-intensive technique of hand-plucking the small tender tips of the tea leaf.
Placing an order with another highly-ranked Taobao vendor, the tea leaves arrived after a couple days.
Why the early focus on so many green teas?
Tea Tip – What is a Spring Tea?
Green teas harvested in the Spring are generally regarded to be of higher quality. Green teas are typically harvested in the mountain regions west of Shanghai (e.g. Anhui, Jiangxi, Zhejiang) that share similar misty climates in the Spring. Tea bushes are dormant during the winter which results in additional nutrients, sugars and other flavor compounds being stored in the roots for many months. As the temperature warms, the first buds break out with delicate leaves packed with these nutrients. The first tea harvest occurs before the Chinese Tomb Sweeping (Qingming) Festival (April 5) and are therefore called 明前茶 (Míng qián chá). Teas picked after the Qingming Festival until the middle of April are referred to as 谷雨 (Gǔyǔ) and those until mid-May are 立夏 (Lìxià). At this time the Spring rains set in and harvesting pauses until the end of June. There are various reports, but supposedly around 40% of the annual tea harvest occurs during the Spring harvest. As the temperature warms into Summer, the tea bushes start to flush rapidly and the quality of the tea starts to lose nuances.
Brewing the tea, I added the tea leaves to a glass already with water rather than the other way around.
Frankly, when I first saw the Biluochun tea leaves I wasn’t sure that they hadn’t gone bad because of the thin layer of “hair”. Once added to water though this “hair” immediately separates from the leaves, but this also means that you can’t use any of the modern glass tea pots with thin-slit filters as they will quickly become blocked. As for the flavor, there is more sweetness than Longjing or Maofeng and the taste does seem to shift with subsequent infusions. Dongshan Biluochun is another solid signpost on The Taobao Tea Trail.
From Baidu Baike:
Dongting Biluochun is one of the top ten great teas of China. It is a type of green tea. Biluochun is produced in the region near the Dongting Lake in Suzhou. Blessed by mild climate, abundant rainfall and soil conditions that are very nurturing for the growth of tea, the Dongting Lake region has consistently produced outstanding Biluochun. The Chinese have had a long love affair with Biluochun dating back to the end of the Tang Dynasty.
A visit to the Biluochun plantation is likely to be a delightful surprise. There you will find tea grown right next to orchard fruit such as peach, plum and orange. This mixture is actually intentional as the fruit gives the tea a mild fruity aroma. It is a special tea planting technique used in China.
Fresh Biluochun is distinguished by its compact batches of thin leaves, fresh and vibrant green color and a thin layer of frost or hair. Brewed Biluochun tastes very refreshing and mild with a slightly sweet aftertaste. It is great at quenching thirst. The tea liquor is a pleasant vision as well with its young emerald color.
Since Biluochun is a mild green tea, the temperature of the water used to brew the tea needs to be kept at around 80c. Temperature any higher will destroy the delicateness of the tea. When brewing, it is suggested that one should warm the tea cup first with boiling water so that the cup will give full play to the tea’s aromas. It is also important to get rid of the thin layer of frost or hair on the Biluochun leaves as it distorts the tasting experience. You can do it by discarding the first round of brewed tea since the thin hairs will be separated from the leaves after being brewed. Lastly, remember that the third and forth rounds of brew yield the best tasting Biluochun as the aromas are fully developed and released.
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