Fuding Xue Long (Snow Dragon), 2011
Xue Long is a white tea cultivar that is crafted in the manner of a green tea. Hand gathered on March 27, 2011 from Fuding County, northern Fujian Province, the tea consists entirely of leaf buds from the Da Bai cultivar – a variety from which traditional Silver Needle white tea is crafted. But unlike white tea, which undergoes gradual enzymatic oxidation, Xue Long is pan-roasted by hand to prevent any enzymatic oxidation from occurring.
The name of the tea pays homage to its dual heritage. “Xue” means snow, and refers to the downy white coating that is emblematic of young Da Bai leaf buds. The tea’s crisp sweetness, sans any hint of astringency or bitterness, comes from this provincial heritage.
“Long” means dragon, and refers to the method of pan roasting typically used in Zhejiang Province to craft Dragonwell green teas. The hour long folding and pressing of the Xue Long leaf buds against a hot pan imparts a toastiness to the tea that is reminiscent of warm popcorn and toasted sweet rice.