Bi Luo Chun (Chinese: 碧螺春; pinyin: Bìluóchūn) is a famous green tea originally grown in the Dong Ting mountain of Tai Hu, Jiangsu Province, China. Also known as Pi Lo Chun, it is renowned for its delicate appearance, fruity taste, floral aroma, showy white hairs and early cropping.
Known as one of the top ten teas in China, Biluochun tea is mainly produced in Dongting Mountain of Taihu Lake in Wuxian County of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, hence its other name “Dongting Biluochun”. According to historical records, Biluochun tea enjoyed a good reputation way back in the Sui and Tang Dynasties over a thousand years ago. Legend has it that Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty tasted the famous tea that is green in color and shaped like a spiraling snail. The emperor lavished his praises on the tea and named it “Biluochun” (literally meaning “Green Snail Spring”).
The name Bi Luo Chun literally means “Green Snail Spring”. It is called so because it is a green tea that is rolled into a tight spiral, resembling snail meat, and is cropped early spring.
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.
According to the Qing Dynasty chronicle Ye Shi Da Guan, Emperor Kangxi visited Tai Hu in the 38th year of his rule. At that time, because of its rich aroma, local people called it “Scary Fragrance”. Kangxi decided to give it a more elegant name – “Green Snail Spring”.
Chinese tea experts regard it very highly. Zhen Jun (1857 to 1918 A.D.), author of tea encyclopedia Cha Shuo, ranked it first among Chinese green tea. Longjing tea came second, Liu An Gua Pian came third. It is so delicate and tender that one kilogram of Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun has 14,000 to 15,000 tea shoots.
Today, Bi Luo Chun is cultivated in Dong Ting, Jiangsu Province. Bi Luo Chun from Dong Shan (East Mountain) is considered the best. Bi Luo Chun tea is also grown in Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces. Their leaves are larger and less uniform (may contain yellow leaves). They taste more nutty than fruity and smooth.
Bi Luo Chun is divided into seven grades in decreasing order of quality: Supreme, Supreme Ⅰ,Grade Ⅰ,Grade Ⅱ,Grade Ⅲ, Chao Qing Ⅰ, and Chao Qing Ⅱ.
If you have never sampled Chinese green tea, the Biluochun is a good one to start with. Chinese tea not only smells and tastes great but is reportedly very good for you! Take a few tea leaves and sprinkle them at the bottom of your cup. Next, cover them with boiling water until the tea leaves sink. Leave it to rest for a minute and then fill the cup to the top. The tea will then change color, to a light green shade and should taste delicious! It is an acquired taste but certainly one that grows on you, and is much healthier and more refreshing than black tea. The tea is quite expensive and can cost between RMB 200 and RMB 5000 for a kilogram. There are numerous tea houses around the city selling the leaves, particularly try some of the shops near Renmin Lu.