Bi Luo Chun Tea
The local tea in Suzhou, Bi Luo Chun, is one of the ten famous teas of China. It has more than 1000 years of history. The tea is only produced on the banks of the Taihu Lake: in Suzhou’s Dong Ting East Mountain (Dongshan) and the West Mountain (Xishan).
The original names for Bi Luo Chun tea (and still used by local people) are “Dong Ting Tea” or “Xia Sa Ren Xiang” (scary aroma). Legend has it that during the Qing Dynasty, the harvest was so abundant that a tea-picking girl ran out of space in her basket. So she put the tea between her breasts instead. The tea, warmed by her body heat, emitted a strong aroma that surprised the girl, who shouted: “Xia Sha Ren Xiang” ( scary fragrance”).
The Bi Luo Chun tea leaves can be recognised by their bright emerald-green colour and their spiral-shape, resembling a snail. Also typical for the Bi Luo Chun is its harvest time: early spring. In the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kanxi, after tasting the tea, therefore, renamed the tea into “Green Snail Spring”, “Bi Luo Chun”.
Bi Luo Chun tea bushes can always be found in between fruit trees. The tea leaves absorb the fruit smell which gives the Biluochun tea its unique aroma and flavour.
Bi Luo Chun tea is harvested only once a year; in March/April. The leaves have to be picked in the morning, from 5 am until 9 am. Only the very young, small and tender leaves are picked. After picking, only the best leaves are selected and used: they have to have the right shape and colour. Every 500 grams of tea consists of 68.000 till 74.000 leaves.
In the Tong Tin East Mountain, many families depend on the tea harvest. Therefore, local traditions often are based on the Bi Luo Chun. When young kids go to school for the first time, parents will ask them to drink Bi Luo Chun that morning, while they wish them all the best with their studies. The Biluochun also plays a role in the local marriage traditions; it is a perfect engagement gift. Just after the wedding, when the mother-in-law visits the new-wed couple for the first time, they will serve Bi Luo Chun tea to her, followed by a local sweet dessert. But also it is used to celebrate a newly built house, or wishing an elder a happy birthday. Therefore, Biluochun is also called “rich tea” or “long life tea”.
Bi Luo Chun has many health benefits. Because the tea making process of Bi Luo Chun doesn’t include fermentation, it keeps the natural antioxidants and vitamins.
How to prepare a pot of Bi Luo Chun Tea
– Add approximately 3-4 teaspoons of Bi Luo Chun into the teapot. Depending on how you like your tea, you can add more or less.
– Pour water that is 80 ºC into the teapot. When the water temperature is higher you will burn the Bi Luo Chun: it will turn yellow, taste bitter, and all beneficial antioxidants will be destroyed.
– After 3-5 minutes you can pour the tea into the teacups.
– You can sweeten the Bi Luo Chun by adding a bit of honey. Honey will enhance the natural flavours of the tea without overtaking them.
Bi Luo Chun tea is usually brewed 2-3 times. Every time the aroma and the taste will be different. The first time you pour on water, the smell of the tea will be quite delicate and the taste fresh; the second time, the smell will get stronger but the taste more mellow; at the third brewing, the fragrance and the taste will be sweet.
The Taihu Lake area is beautiful in every season, but when you have time in March or April, try to visit the Dongshan to pick tea yourself, and don’t forget to buy some Bi Luo Chun at one of the shops or at
Jin Ji Ling Local Product Organization
38, Zijin’an Lu, Dongshan
Tel: 189-1350 1058.