This is my first experience with the famous Bi Luo Chun, and this particular one from Teasenz really presents a quality I would expect from one of China’s 10 Famous Teas.
The delicate little buds are fragile and most brewing methods would have you dropping them onto water in a full tall glass. I brewed them lid-off in a gaiwan using a technique to fill the water where you pour it slowly along the outer rim in a circular motion so that it takes about 10 seconds to fill the gaiwan fully. The water hardly agitates the leaves and they mostly sit still as it slowly fills. This keeps from damaging these delicate leaves.
The scent is nutty and vegetal. The flavor is significantly rich, hearty, savory, nutty, vegetal, brothy, buttery… I could go on! It is quite complex and is difficult to describe. There are notes of asparagus, spinach, grass, and wood. I’m reminded of the scent of a forest on a hot day after rain. Scents of earth, growth and slight decay rise up from the forest floor under the heat of the sun. The cup emanates these same qualities.
The second steep brings about more richness and depth while featuring the same flavors. It continues to be very buttery and nutty with green vegetal flavors. This time I’m reminded of zucchini. The brew has also a nice sweetness to it if you let it cool before drinking.
The third steeping was so good I couldn’t drink it slowly enough to detect any flavors. Hah! Okay, I might have inhaled a tasting cup of it, but I had some more to try. The flavor is more sweet and mellow, but still with a hearty vegetal green taste. There is almost no astringency but a slight lingering feeling on the tongue that is a little bit dry and there is also a definite hui gan, a recurring cooling sensation accompanying the sweetness.
There’s a scent and flavor to this tea overall that I couldn’t describe properly for the longest time, I had to come back and edit this review. I’ve now come to realize it’s something of a green bean kind of taste/aroma. It’s definitely quite dominant in the later steepings.
By the fourth steeping the flavor is still quite full. There’s a subtle lingering floral taste, along with the other flavors that have already been present. The fifth steeping finally started to lose some flavor so I stopped there. That’s quite a bit of steepings for a green tea!
Here’s a bit of trivia for you, according to Wikipedia:
Its original name is Xia Sha Ren Xiang (simplified Chinese: 吓煞人香; traditional Chinese: 嚇煞人香; pinyin: xiàshàrénxiāng; “scary fragrance”). Legend tells of its discovery by a tea picker who ran out of space in her basket and put the tea between her breasts instead. The tea, warmed by her body heat, emitted a strong aroma that surprised the girl. Scary fragrance! Haha!
According to the Qing Dynasty chronicle Ye Shi Da Guan, the Kangxi Emperor visited Lake Tai in the 38th year of his rule. At that time, because of its rich aroma, local people called it “Scary Fragrance”. The Kangxi Emperor decided to give it a more elegant name – “Green Snail Spring”.
I have read that Bi Luo Chun is renowned for fruity and floral aromas, but I’m not really getting either of those from this tea.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Grass, Green Beans, Wood