What is Bi Luo Chun tea?
Bi Luo Chun tea (Pi Lo Chun, Biluochun, Green Snail Spring) is another prized Chinese green tea. This one originates from Dongting Mountains in the Jiangsu province. Fruit trees are often planted among the tea shrubs. In early spring, when these trees are in full bloom, new tender tea leaves and little buds absorb the surrounding fruity-floral flavors. This is the time to harvest Bi Luo Chun until the spring rain in April. Only one leaf and a bud is plucked. Harvesting and total production is done in the traditional artisan way, by hand only.
What’s in the name?
Bi Luo Chun tea is inseparably linked with the freshness of spring. Named after a small green snail that heralds the arrival of spring in China, Bi Luo Chun is picked in March, capturing the scents and colors of the season in its green tinted, distinctively curled leaves. Another name of this tea is ‘Xia Sha Ren Xiang’ (Astounding Fragrance). Chinese folklore talks about a young girl who ran out of space in her basket while picking the tea. She put the tea leaves between her breasts instead. The aroma of the fresh tea warmed by her body “astonished” the girl. Or so the legend goes. Anyhow, this green tea is tremendously fragrant, with a fruity-floral aroma.
Bi Luo Chun tea leaves exude fragrances reminiscent of fresh spring mountain air, punctuated by dandelion greens, fresh cucumbers, and even hints of lettuce and spinach. This range of herbaceous scents is often overlaid by fruity notes, including “peachy” and “apricot“. Bi Luo Chun is thus a complex tea, “fragrant”, “flowery”, “delicate”, “light”, yet “fully expanded in your mouth”.
Authentic and premium Bi Luo Chun can be identified by soft green leaves with white tips, and the existence of floral and fruity notes in their fragrance. Until recently, Bi Luo Chun has been only produced in Jiangsu. Nowadays, it also comes from Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces and even Taiwan. Although the tea purists might argue that only Jiangsu Bi Luo Chun is the real thing, in reality, it’s a good idea to judge tea by the taste, not by the label.