Saturday, February 14, 2009
Tea Tasting Saturday #7 - Bi Lo Chun (Spring Snail Shell)
Ramen noodles. That's all I could think of when I opened this packet of tea from Upton Tea Company. The leaves tumbled out and looked just like curly dark green pieces of crumbled-up ramen noodles. You know, it's almost like opening a present each week to see what the tea-of-the-week is going to look like, and it is really quite fun to see the variations in appearance!
Name of tea: Bi Lo Chun (also Pi Lo Chun), Spring Snail Shell
Category: Green Tea
Purveyor: Upton Tea Company
When purchased: January 2009
Dry leaf appearance: "Ramen noodles" is what first came to mind, but then I remembered the English words from the Harney book, Spring Snail Shell, and thought, "Ah, yes! I see where they got that!"
Wet leaf appearance: Pretty olive green, twig-looking leaves. Or maybe fat pine needles.
Steeping temperature and time: 1 teaspoon of tea, 180 degrees, 2 minutes (I got two more steepings from this tea, each steeped for a minute longer than the previous version)
Scent: At first I thought this tea smelled like steamed asparagus, but then I decided it was more like cauliflower. "Steamed vegetable" would be a safe bet. And interestingly, once I poured off the water and smelled the spent tea leaves, some very different characteristics emerged. First, it smelled like something roasted (vegetable, not meat). But when I came back to the leaves perhaps 30 minutes later, they had an almost citrus scent, and the roasted scent was completely gone.
Color: Pale peachy gold
Flavor: This had a nice (what I've heard referred to as) "mouth feel," although there was a little of that puckery, astringent feel after I finished the cup. It was very pleasant to drink, though, so the aftertaste wasn't a dealbreaker for me at all.
Additional notes: Again, I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying these "pure" teas in their simple, un-tarted-up form. Very different from what I've always thought of as "green tea taste." Michael Harney's account of seeking out a Bi Lo Chun farm in China was one of my favorite chapters in the book so far. You cannot read this book without coming away with a much greater appreciation for tea!
Next week's tea: Lung Ching