Leopard Snow Buds Tea
The method of manufacture of this tea is quite interesting. The bud and the first leaf of new shoots of the tea bush are hand picked during the last two weeks of March and the first week of April. Only certain tea bushes grow the leaf that is required for this tea. [On a tea estate there are thousands of tea bushes so it is necessary to maintain accurate records for the location of these special bushes.] The leaves are plucked between 3:30: am and 7:00 am when the dew is heavy on the leaves. These leaves are rushed to the tea factory where they are re-sorted and hand rolled ever so slightly. The leaves are then immediately steamed to capture the cool and crisp pre-dawn taste of green tea. Note that some of the leaves are covered with a ‘white down’. This signifies new, fresh and pure – characteristics that are held in high regards by those striving for the ultimate in tea quality.
There are only a handful of villages in the Wuyi Mountains that make this tea. Legend has it that in the 1500’s when special teas were highly sought after by the wealthy merchants of Shanghai and Fuzchou, a certain tea grower Mr. Wu Guan Ping was personally picking the leaves for a special client (also he did not want to divulge the location of these special bushes to his workers for fear that they would steal his tea bushes). Under the cover of pre-dawn darkness while plucking the tea, a white leopard that was known to inhabit the mountains came upon the poor Mr. Wu. The outcome was predictable. When they discovered what was left of Mr. Wu, they found tightly gripped in his hand tea leaves that appeared totally different from any others on the estate. In honor of Mr. Wu this tea was pronounced ‘Leopard Snow Buds’