This rare Chinese green tea can only be made once a year in the spring.
For two weeks after the spring equinox and before the heavier rains, the most tender buds with one partly opened leaf (“sparrow’s tongue”) are plucked.
And its process is very fine, undergose picking fresh leaves, pan firing, rolling and drying.
All is done by hand.
Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun tea is handpicked, handsorted and handfired on the same day.
The making process consists of three stages:
Picking (5 to 9 A.M.)
Picking any high grade Chinese green tea is a tedious process, and especially so for Pi Lo Chun tea. Each pick consists of a terminal bud with an adjacent leaf. A standard pick measures 1.6 to 2.0 centimeters.
One kilogram can have 14,000 to 15,000 tea shoots. It was said that the highest record ever known was 18,000.
Sorting (9 A.M. To 3 P.M.)
This tea is sorted by hand, one by one. The sorting process removes any sub standard leaves. A high quality should consist entirely of young tea buds and slightly opened leaves, and nothing else.
Roasting (about 40 minutes)
Shaqing(fixation) applies high heat to kill the enzymes and halt the oxidation, or fermentation process. The process lasts 3 to 5 minutes. The wok temperature ranges from 190 to 200 degree Celsius.
Rounian(Rolling) follows. Using 3 distinct hand movements, Pi Lo Chun tea is rolled into spirals. The process lasts 20 to 25 minutes. The wok temperature reduces to 70 – 75 degree Celsius. Moisture reduces to 30% to 40%.
Cuotuan(Twisting) follows. Tea leaves spiral up and start to lump together. As color turns from green to gray, white hairs start to gather and show up.
It might sound strange, but young tea shoots are naturally covered by baby white hairs. To many people, they are a sign of quality.
The process lasts 15 minutes. The wok temperature reduces to 50 – 60 degree Celsius. Moisture reduces to 20%.
Honggan(Drying) applies low heat to dry the tea to about 7% moisture.
The process lasts 6 to 8 minutes. The wok temperature ranges from 30 to 40 degree Celsius.
Yes, they may look like a bit dark, curly snails but pop them into a glass of hot water and they will spring into life-bright green tea shoots-one by one.Due to the stringent selection process for high quality leaves, this tea is not widely available.
Competition grades of Pi Lo Chun tea use smaller, more tender bud-leaf sets with white downy tips. The highest grades come from the earliest pluckings in the two week season. When dry, they remain tightly curled and do not unravel.
The original Pi Luo Chun tea is grown in the Dong Ting Mountain of the Jiangsu Province. The tea is famed for its delicate leaves and fruity flavor.
The Dong Ting Mountain is now granted the status of National Designated Protected Zone. It produces about 550 tonnes each year
Due to its popularity, this tea is now widely cultivated in other parts of Jiangsu Province such as Yi Xing, Li Yang, Li Shui and Gao Chun. They produce about 1,500 tonnes each year.
The tea making process is similar, but the Jiangsu Pi Lo Chun is larger, less delicate and less fruity than their Dong Ting cousin.
Pi Lo Chun tea is also grown in Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces. These are fake teas that are produced from other tea plant species.
Their leaves are larger and less uniform (may contain yellow leaves). They taste more nutty than fruity and smooth.
Pi Lo Chun tea is famous for its unique shape as well as the heavenly taste. Only the bud and a half-open leaf are selected. During hand processing, the bud-leaf set is carefully rolled into a tight silvery-green spiral that can hold in the freshness longer. Some say the leaves resemble tiny green snails.
When the tea leaves unfurl during brewing you can see that each tea leave contain 1 buds and 2 leaves.
The liquor is a clear light yellow with a pale green tint.
Pi Lo Chun tea tastes like a fresh, crisp, spring day in the country.
The velvety sweetness is well-rounded and the hint of floral notes leave a desirable and distinctive aftertaste.
The flavor is rich and full-bodied and the sweet nutty flavor of the leaves should be appreciated before, during, and after infusion to enhance the tasting experience.
This Chinese green tea, was originally called “Astounding Fragrance” for the aroma from the fresh leaves.
The tea bushes are interplanted with plum, peach, and apricot trees for shade.
The fruit trees are in full bloom when the tea leaves are plucked in the early spring and some of the floral aroma is absorbed by the tea.
Studies show that green tea may help boost your immune system, inhibit the growth of certain cancers, soothe the stomach, regulate your blood sugar, and lower your cholesterol.
This tea is organic and contains 5-10% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.
Put some effort and it should keep fresh for a longer time.
Keep tea away from moisture
Once a bag of tea is opened, please finish it within 3 months if you wish to enjoy its freshness.
From the medical point of view, it is safe to consume the tea even if it is kept for a few years.
However the freshness disappears if it is kept for too long.
Tea must be tightly sealed before it is kept.
Tea should be kept in ambient and dry conditions such as in the living room, but it must be completely away from humidity.
Tea should not be kept in the kitchen as the environment is very humid.
Avoid enclosed area such as inside the cupboard or drawer as these places are damp.
Also avoid opening the bag of tea in humid atmosphere.
It is recommended to open the bag during a sunny day or under air-conditioned atmosphere.
Once tea leaves absorb moisture, deterioration of tea will be triggered within a few days.
Tea will then give an astringent taste, sometime it tastes sour. The fresh aroma also becomes weaker.
Beware of keeping the tea in the fridge
If the tea is sealed, keep in a freezer. Cover with a box to insulate from temperature change.
Once the package has been opened, store away from light, moisture, smell and heat in an airtight container.
The quality of tea lasts longer if it is kept in the fridge. However we strongly recommend you not to keep tea in the fridge.
When tea is withdrawn from the fridge, there is usually condensation. Once tea is exposed to moisture during condensation, the quality will deteriorate within a few days. The higher moisture content in the tea leaves will trigger oxidation and it will completely destroy the quality of tea.
Here’s one frequently asked question:
What happens if bag is sealed using tape or tea is packed in zipper bag and kept inside the fridge?
For your information, these simple sealing methods are not sufficient. When the bag is withdrawn from the fridge, it is cold inside the bag and therefore causes negative pressure.
Air will be drawn from outside and condensation will occur.
In addition, if the bag is taken in and out from the fridge very often, this will cause heat stress to the tea leaves as temperature is increased and decreased very frequently.
If tea is kept in the fridge, when it is withdrawn from the fridge, it is necessary to leave it in ambient atmosphere for more than 24 hours in order to warm up the tea leaves.
Based on our experience, 12 hours is not long enough. We may think tea is warmed up, but inside the bag, the tea leaves are still cold due to insulation effect.
IMPORTANT: Get tea with teaspoon instead of hand.