Biluochun (碧螺春), also known as Pi Lo Chun, is a famous green tea originally grown in the Dongting mountain area near Lake Tai, province Jiangsu, China. Biluochun is renowned for its delicate appearance with white hairs, fruity taste and floral aroma.
The name Biluochun literally means “Green Spring Snail”. The tea is called so because it is rolled into a tight spiral, resembling snail meat and is harvested in early spring.
The original name for Biluochun is Xia Sha Ren Xiang (吓煞人香, “scary fragrance”). Legend tells of its discovery by a tea picker who ran out of space in her basket and put the tea in front of her chest 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, 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 – Biluochun.
Now, Biluochun is cultivated in Dongting, Jiangsu. Biluochun from Dong Shan (East Mountain) is considered the best. Biluochun is also grown in Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces. Their leaves are larger and less uniform. They taste more nutty than fruity and smooth. Biluochun 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.
The Dongting area features lakes and mountains. Water evaporates from the lakes, keeping the mountains shrouded in clouds and mist. These conditions are perfect for Biluochun tea. One secret to the unique aroma and taste are fruit trees. Growers plant apricot, plum and peach trees between the tea bushes, so that the tea leaves can absorb some of the fragrance from the fruit trees.
Picking of Biluochun has three major characteristics: early picking, tender picking, and clean picking. It is mined around Chunfen (Vernal Equinox) every year and ends around Guyu (Grain Rain). It takes about 68,000 to 74,000 buds to make 500g of high-grade Biluochun. The delicate bud leaves are rich in amino acids and tea polyphenols. The superior environmental conditions, combined with high-quality fresh leaf raw materials, provide a material basis for the formation of Biluochun quality.
The harvested bud leaves must be carefully selected in time, removing non-standard bud leaves to keep uniform and consistent. It usually takes 2 to 4 hours to select one kilogram of bud leaves. In fact, the process of selecting buds and leaves is also the process of spreading fresh leaves, which can promote the slight oxidation. Generally speaking, 5 am to 9 am is for picking, 9 am to 15 pm is for selecting, and 15 pm till night is for cooking tea.
Performs in a pan and lasts 3 to 5 minutes. When the temperature of the pan reaches 190-200 °C, throw about 500 grams of leaves, mainly shake, stir fry with both hands, so that the tea leaves can be cleaned, shaken, killed green, without red stalk, red leaves or scorched leaves.
The pan temperature is 70 ~ 75 ° C, which is alternately carried out by shaking, frying, and kneading. While shaking, frying, and kneading, as the moisture of the tea decreases, strips gradually form. Handle the tea leaves properly when frying. If too loose, tight strips will not form, while if too tight, tea leaves will overflow, resulting in a scorched smell and making the tea dark and broken. When the dryness of the tea leaves reaches 60% to 70%, and the time is about 10 minutes, reduces the temperature of the pan and turns into the process of kneading, which takes about 12 to 15 minutes.
It is the key process to form a curly shape like a snail and full of hair. The pot temperature is 50 to 60 ° C. While frying, use your hands to knead all the tea leaves into several small groups. Shake it from time to time. Repeat many times and turn into drying process. It took 13 ~ 15 minutes.
Using light kneading and light frying techniques to achieve a fixed shape, evaporating the water. When 90% dry, the tea leaves are spread on mulberry paper, and the paper is placed on the pot and fired tenderly until fully dried. The temperature of the pot is about 30-40 ° C, and the water content of the dried leaves is about 7%, which lasts 6-8 minutes. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes.
The hand does not leave the tea, and the tea does not leave the pot, with the combination of frying and kneading and continuous operation.
Biluochun tea contains many substances beneficial to people’s health, including catechins, vitamin A and C, caffeine, flavanols, and tea polyphenols. Their health care efficacies are listed as follows for your reference.
1. Keep excited
Tea caffeine can excite the central nervous system of human body, hence help people lift their spirits, improve thinking, eliminate fatigue, and improve working or study efficiency.
2. Lose weight
Compounds in Biluochun tea like caffeine, inositol, folic acid, pantothenic acid and some aromatic substances help regulate fat metabolism; TP and vitamin C can lower cholesterol and blood lipids.
3. Prevent cancer
Flavonoids in tea (mulberry pigment and catechins) have different degrees of anti-cancer effects.
4. Prevent decayed tooth
Tea leaves contain fluorine and fluorine ions and teeth calcium can trigger a chemical reaction and produce a kind of substance called “fluorine apatite” difficult in dissolving in acid. Thus it is just like adding a protective layer to the teeth, improving the teeth’s anti-acid and anti-caries ability.
5. Antibacterial, antimicrobial properties
Tea polyphenols (TP) and tannic acid can solidify bacteria protein to kill bacteria.
6. Diuretic effect
The caffeine and theophylline in tea leaves have diuretic effect, which can be used to treat edema and water-hysteretic tumor.
7. Prevent arteriosclerosis
TP and vitamin C in Biluochun tea have the function of promoting blood circulation and removing blood stasis and researches have proved that people drink Biluochun regularly have the lower risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
8. Ease beriberi
Take a feet bath for about half an hour every night before going to bed. After a week, you will find your beriberi is improved a lot.
When you steep biluochun leaves, the start at the top of the cup, but slowly float to the bottom. Many drinkers love watching the leaves drift downward, since it reminds them of falling snowflakes.
- Fill your gaiwan (or glass) about halfway with hot water to pre-heatit. Then pour the water out.
- Refill the gaiwan with hot water. It should be about 80-90% full. The water temperature should be below boiling, around 80°C (176°F)is ideal.
- Drop approximately 1 teaspoon of Biluochun leavesinto the water. Use twice this amount if you are brewing your tea in an 8oz glass. The leaves will sink to the bottom leaving the tiny hairs at the top.
- Place the lid on the gaiwan and let the tea steep for 1-2 minutes. Enjoy your tea. When you get down to about one quarter of the tea remaining, refill the gaiwan with hot water of the same temperature as before and let it steep for 3 minutes.
- You can get 3-5 infusionsout of most Pi Lo Chun Teas. Increase the steeping time 30 seconds to one minute for each infusion. Times for infusions depend entirely on your taste.
1 Do not drink new tea immediately. Since the new tea has just been made, the storage time is short, the active ingredients in the tea are not yet stable, thus it contains more polyphenols, aldehydes, alcohols and other substances that will stimulate the stomach.
- Not suitable for people with liver, spleen and stomach problems. Biluochun is an unfermented tea which is rich in polyphenols. People with liver, spleen and stomach problems will suffer from weak energy, cold hands and feet, and diarrhea.
- Not suitable to drink three hours before going to bed. Biluochun contains many polyphenols and caffeine, which can trigger people’s minds and cause insomnia.
- Colds, menstrual periods, pregnancy, children under 2 years of age should not drink.