Saturday, October 10, 2009

Review Series Green Tea 1: Grand Tea, Premium Bi Luo Chun 2009



Grand Tea has a video in which a tumbler of Bi Luo Chun leaves are steeped. Strangely, whenever I make my own glass of this lovely green tea, seagulls do, indeed, start calling, and soothing music rises up in the background.

For some background on the tea, I found this on their Web site:

Bi Lu Chun is one of the most famous Green tea in China, it means "Green Spring Snail" in Chinese and is named by an emperor in seventeenth century by its look. GrandTea.com's Bi Luo Chun ( Pi Lo Chun , Bi Lu Chun) is first class Green Tea comes from Suzhou province in China. To product this tea, the leafs and buds are picked by skilled hands one by one in the early spring. The tea has almost no broken leafs and the shape is so called "one bud two leafs" which is an ideal shape of the best quality green tea. Taste, and aftertaste is light, sweet and pleasant with a hint of fruity fragrance. This Bi Lou Chun is limited produced and will only be available in a limited time each year. Preparation of this tea need to do with care. General tips are use one tablespoon or 3-4 grams of tea leaves for every 160 ml water. The temperature should be 75-80 °C with a steeping time 1-3 minute depend on the desired strength.

THE LEAVES
Opening the package, I found tiny, olive-green twists of leaf, which opened up to become . . . tiny, obviously new-growth leaves in the pot. It's always a great idea to study the loose-leaf tea leaves when you make a cup of tea, so you can learn a lot about a tea by the appearance and aroma of the dry leaves. In this case, because the leaves were so tiny, I could tell they were plucked at an early stage in Spring. If it takes twice as many tea plants to produce the same weight of leaf, it will obviously cost more to produce. Also, because the leaves are so fresh, their taste will be more delicate. Chinese will spend quite a lot of money for these early leaves (which they refer to as "Pre-Ming," in reference to the QingMing festival, which takes place on the 15th day from the Spring equinox; and in which everyone goes outside to tread on the green, enjoy the weather, and take care of their ancestors' graves).

THE STEEPING
I followed the steeping instructions provided by Grand Tea's Web site, though I used my great-grandmother's century-old porcelain Japanese teapot instead of a glass tumbler.

THE CUP
My family and I love this tea. It is bright, pleasantly vegetal, with a slightly dry mouthfeel and a nicely floral fragrance. Settling into the cup, I enjoy the clean refreshment of the liquor: yellow-gold in color, perfectly transparent. Exactly what I expect a high-quality Bi Luo Chun to taste like. This particular one tastes of sweet rice, and a bit buttery. I enjoy the long finish with notes honey and grain.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
Why drink this tea? It's very refreshing and clean, with a happy Spring feeling. After I let the tea rest a bit and come back to it, it's surprisingly green, and upbeat, and bright, with a crisp, dry edge that keeps all that sweetness from becoming cloying.

(This review has been cross-posted at TeaViews.com.)

4 comments:

Johan said...

This is one of my absolute favorite green teas (I mostly drink oolong though, especially this time of year when the spring greens are not as fresh).
But I would recommend a different brewing method. I'm not saying it's the only way to brew Bi Lou Chun, but I did spend a lot of time with it this summer (not BLC from grand tea but from Jing tea shop) and after some serious trial and error it is what has proven to work best for me.
I use about 5 grams of tea for a 100ml gaiwan, 65°C for the first brew and 70°C for the two to three subsequent ones and never more than a minute brewing time each. Remember to let a little bit of tea remain in the gaiwan between every brew.
I hope you find this helpful.

Steven Knoerr said...

Johan: With the large amount of leaf and short steepings, it sounds a lot like a gongfu session-- except for the low temperatures. I'll have to try that next time I have some BLC to experiment with. Thank you so much for the input!

Jason Witt said...

I know what you mean with "buttery" to describe this tea. I experienced that with a Bi Luo Chun of my own when I first tried it. I fell in love with that flavor and to this day I like buttery-tasting teas a lot. This includes some Ti Kuan Yin teas too. They can also be buttery. --Teaternity

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