While in Suzhou, China last week I bought some of the famous tea from the area.
You can see the tea cans on the shelf. They were all empty. The tea itself was in the freezer that is covered with the pictures of fruit.
The characters on the canister translate to Bi Luo Chun.
Bi Luo Chun basically means green snail spring.
The tea is grown in the mountains across the lake west of Suzhou.
Here you see a picture of the tea leaves and can understand why it is called green snail. The tea leaves are rolled up into little balls that look like snail meat. The tea is harvested in the spring, is pan fired to stop the oxidation process, and is then hand rolled. This is how it gets the distinctive shape of the leaves.
The aroma of the tea is very strong and distinctive. In fact the original name of this tea in Chinese meant scary fragrance. There is an interesting story about a young girl who was picking tea and carried some of the leaves against her bare skin. Her body heat caused the tea leaves to give off a strong fragrance.
The taste is also vegetal, but it is also a bit sweet and nutty. One site that I found described the taste as artichoke, chestnut and poundcake.
I am looking forward to see how the taste changes in further infusions. The second infusion has a slightly different taste as is usually the case.
Bi luo chun is considered one of the Famous Teas of China. Some say that it is the best green tea, while others give precedence to longjing or Dragon Well tea. In any case, it is definitely distinctive.
I will have to try the other variety soon and see how much different it is.
I will slowly get to all the tea that I bought while in China 🙂