“This is a classic “Robust” style Yunnan Bi Luo Chun (rolled) Green Tea, with a mix of 2 leaf to 1 bud plucking style.”
Which is to say, you won’t mistake Yunnan Bi Luo Chun for the classic ethereal Bi Luo Chun from Jiangsu known for its tiny buds. These leaves abd buds are hearty Yunnan-style, some of them are downright huge.
This is a hearty green tea with a thick soup and pleasant outgoing vegetal character. It is relatively forgiving of careless brewing, but rewards care, exposing layers of green flavor in the main tastes and mint in the aftertaste. Gongfu style brewing, this tea will stand up to several steeps and just keep on going.
It is a great, organic, reasonably priced, perfect tea for an every day green tea drinker.
“We are proud to invite you to experience our first ever production from Long Tan Village (龙塘 Dragon Pool)! Long Tang village is a small village in the northern part of Jinggu county at an altitude of 1500 meters…Our Spring 2018 production is from tea gardens of two families and is picked from 80-200 year old tea trees. The total production for both families being around 50 kilograms.”
The flavor is deceptively mild for a young raw/sheng Pu-erh. Flavor is clean, but on the savory/briney side, with a very long aftertaste reminiscent of certain incense. There is a bit of appetizing tannic grip which you can sense on your tongue after drinking the tea, but little bitterness.
Given the mild, clean character of the tea, there is quite a lot of complexity to turn over in your mind as you drink. I can only think it will get more interesting as it ages. And, who can resist a tea from “Dragon Pool”?
I sort of thought yesterday’s “Jade Dragon” would be the highlight of the Yunnan Sourcing Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler, but this tea is even more interesting.
First, due to the name of the village it is grown in. “This lovely tea is grown in Mengku County of Lincang in a village called “Dofu Zhai” (aka Tofu Village).” Tofu Village!
Second, it is a special varietal local to “Tofu Village” that is a hybrid of pure Camellia sinensis var. assamica and another varietal called “Change Ye Bai Hao”.
The name, “Song Zhen,” (or “Pine Needles,”) of course, comes from the appearance of the processed tea. After the “kill green” step, they are rolled super tightly along the rib to have the appearance, for all anyone knows, of being a pile of pine needles.
But, mostly, the tea is amazing due to its flavor. It comes out of the gate with a buttery caramel-esque flavor. Seriously. Which gives way to a mild stonefruit core. Finishes with sweetness, a touch of astringency, a very pleasant buzz, and a camphor/menthol sensation that seems to evaporate from your tongue.
There are a group of teas, or type of teas, which are classically called, “China’s 10 Famous Teas” (or sometimes 8 famous teas).
This classification goes back to before the communist revolution, at least late 1800s or early 1900s, maybe earlier.
The list slightly varies a bit from source to source, but it is usually about half green tea.
At the time, among those green teas, Lake Tai/Dongting Green Snail Spring from Suzhou, Jiangsu, was often considered the best of the best.
Suzhou is in the Central Eastern province, Jiangsu, near Shanghai.
This isn’t Lake Tai/Dongting Green Snail.
It is from Yunnan, which is a province in Southern China, bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Vientam.
The tea grown in the Jiangsu area tend to be on small leafed bushes. The tea grown in Yunnan area tend to be on big leafed, well, actual trees. Distinct varieties of tea are grown in each area, due to the differences in climate.
I haven’t had actual Bi Luo Chun from Jiangsu, so I can’t tell you how much this one resembles the other, but given the differences in regions, I don’t actually expect that this Yunnan Green Snail Bi Luo Chun tastes much like the real thing, from Jiangsu.
However, another distinguishing factor in “Green Snail” tea is how it is formed. As I mentioned, after the “Kill Green” step, green tea is usually formed into shapes which allow it to be stored without damaging the leaves.
In the case of “Green Snail” the tea is formed into a sort of double coil. First the leaf is rolled vertically, then it is rolled horizontally. The shape is said to resemble a snail which has been cooked and pulled out of its shell. Well, which you can see from the picture, it does. Yum.
While this tea may not be real “Bi Luo Chun” from Jiangsu, it is a very solid green tea.
I find with these assortments from Yunnan Sourcing, there is usually a couple exceptional teas, one unusual tea, and one that is just a solid, well priced example of the classification. A daily drinker, if you will.
This tea seems to be the daily drinker in this bunch. It is a super solid example of Yunnan green tea. Good clean flavor, forgiving of careless brewing, stands up to multiple brews, but doesn’t require it. I took it to my Mom’s house over the holiday and drank it every day.
Jingmai Sun-Dried “Three Aroma” Bai Mu Dan White Tea, Spring 2018 via @yunnan_sourcing.
Another White tea which mixes leaf and buds. One that even more than yesterday’s illustrates the fragile nature of white tea. And why, when you see it in the bulk bin at rainbow grocery, it’s just a pile of broken leaves.
According to the Yunnan Sourcing site, this is called “Three Aroma” because the smell of the dry leaves, the wet leaves, and the tea in the cup are very distinct and different. The smell of the leaves is tobacco/dried fruit. The wet leaves are grassy/vegetal. And the tea itself a bit minty/floral.
It’s funny, because just yesterday I was thinking how white tea was so very much about aroma, and what you got in the cup was indicated by the smell of the leaves. Live and learn.
This is a more assertive tea than the bud-only white teas, with a pleasant and lightening buzz. Subtle sweetness and good length of flavor. The dried fruit flavors show again in the after taste. Really haunting, finding myself thinking about it long after I finished the last of the tea.
Though, I think I steeped it a bit too hot.
Fine, another tea accessory you need is an accurate thermometer, so you don’t overcook your white and green teas. Or get one of them fancy water boilers that allow you to pick the temperature your water is heated to.
Spring 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle White Tea.
Today’s white tea is much closer to a green tea in character than yesterday’s Silver Needles. Strong green vegetal character, reminding me a bit of the smell of cooked mild green chiles or raw potatoes. But not in a bad way.
A pleasant lightening buzz centered in the upper chest and behind the eyes.
Which brings me to another tea myth, that green and white teas have significantly less caffeine than black teas. All tea categories are made from pretty much the same source material, so all have caffeine. White tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, etc. By weight, the caffeine content is, more or less, the same across tea categories. However, with broken leaf teas, the caffeine is much more available to be immediately dissolved than with whole leaf teas. One steep of broken leaf tea will have more caffeine than one steep of whole leaf tea. However, multiple steeps of whole leaf tea may express more caffeine, (and the other substances in the tea leaves,) than a single steep of broken leaf. Final trivia, since with powdered teas, like matcha, you actually drink the leaf with the tea, those tea drinks can have more caffeine than steeped teas!
The Chinese talk about the feelings and energy they get from different teas using the term “cha qi”. “Tea Energy” or “Tea Power”. It is related to caffeine rush, but not entirely the same.
Different teas can give you different sensations, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. Pay attention to how you feel after drinking a particular tea. If it isn’t a nice feeling, maybe it isn’t a tea for you.