2010 Spring Wu Liang Mtn - Xue Dian Mei Lan - Yunnan
Xue Dian Mei Lan literally means “snow flecks, plum blossoms” in English. It got it’s name from the flecks of silver from the delicate tea buds and from its floral aroma. This is a unique tea made of late Spring harvest Wu Liang mountain tea varietal by a tea master from Taiwan. The style of this tea is loosely based on Baozhong, a style of tea originally from Fujian but quite popular in Taiwan, which falls somewhere between green and oolong tea in terms of processing.
During the past several years, a number of Taiwanese tea growers, tea masters and entrepreneurs have settled in Yunnan, bringing their own distinct styles of processing with them. This tea is, in my mind at least, another fantastic example of what outside influences & expertise can do with Yunnan’s high quality raw materials.
This tea is comprised almost entirely of hand-picked, young, tender, in-tact two leaf and one bud sets. When I first looked at this tea, I was quite pleasantly surprised to see the high standard used in its harvest. In terms of processing, the leaves were picked and wilted similar to a green tea, but there was some shaking done during wilting to the leaves to bruise them & allow what I estimate to be about 5-10% oxidation to occur. After the brief wilting/oxidation period, the tea leaves were wok fired to kill off most of the remaining enzymes that would facilitate further oxidation before being dried and packed for shipment.
Despite its Baozhong-influenced processing, to my taste at least, Xue Dian Mei Lan really comes across more as a green tea in the cup. There are floral, fruity & sweet elements in the flavor & aroma due to the slight oxidation period during processing, but the vegetal, grassy, astringent, green tea type flavors are more pronounced than in the more traditional Baozhong we carry from Taiwan.
When steeping this tea, different temperatures bring out different elements of its flavor. On the one hand, if you use a lower temperature (175 f) like you would for more traditional green teas, you will get some of the floral elements and less of the grassy/green flavors. But, on the other hand, if you use a higher, oolong type temperature (195 f), the floral/fruity flavor is more assertive but retreats a bit behind the more assertive, “green” flavors. I will be very interested to see how people decide this tea is best steeped. If you decide to leave a review for this tea, please include your steeping time, temp and amount of leaf used.
All in all, this is a wonderfully assertive & unique green tea from Yunnan, and I am pleased to carry another example of what Taiwanese tea processing methods can do with Yunnan tea varietals.