The “Spring Snail Shell” dried tea from Yunnan Sourcing is some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. The shape really is snail-shell-like, and the colors range from white to dark green with stunning silken yellow shimmers interspersed. Each piece looks like a tiny sculpture!
With infusion, these tiny snail shells bloom into full leaf sets. This tea is picked as two leaves and a bud. The volume must have quadrupled by the second infusion, with the leaves now large and a striking yellowish green hue. Even if the tea weren’t so tasty, it would be worth infusing just to witness the metamorphosis!
But the tea is tasty, so I have two reasons. I just read the fascinating chapter on Bi Lo Chun in The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, where I learned that this tea is quite rare, as it is produced only on a small island, Dongting on the Tai Hu (Tai Lake). It’s a very special tea in that it is harvested only once in early spring, before the Qing Ming festival.
One caveat offered by Michael Harney is that this tea goes stale easily. I guess that means that I’d better make this my first green of the day (GOD) more often!
To me the flavor is more subtle and less vegetal than Mao Feng or just about any other China green. The texture is smooth and silken. I have no idea how to describe the scent. Does it smell like roasted endive? What a great comparison (by Michael Harney), but perhaps not that helpful, since for many people it’s bound to be a clear case of obscurum per obscurius!