Tasting Tai Lake Pi Luo Chun

February 19, 2021

by Cynthia Fazekas

One of the many charms of China grown green teas is their lack of grassiness, making them approachable for those who don't enjoy that common characteristic of many green teas. In the famous Bi Luo Chun green tea, also commonly spelled Pi Luo Chun, we find a shining example. This highly aromatic tea is grown in the Dongting mountains of the eastern coastal Jiangsu Province, near Lake Tai from which is gets its name.

Years ago, when I first tried a Bi Luo Chun as an apprentice tea taster, the initial word to that came to mind was ‘meaty.’ As my taster’s lexicon grew and my descriptions more elegant, this sensation on the tongue became known to me as umami and nutty. Bi Luo Chun typically presents with this bold nut-like note that engages your palate with a satisfying heartiness, which would seem to be enough to ask of these young leaves. But when you experience higher grades, such as this lovely lot of very young, very tiny fuzzy buds and leaves, the liquor unfolds one your palate into layers of nuanced flavor that span the nexus between floral and fruity. The nuttiness, or umami, can be likened to a sweet cashew or even macadamia nut type nuance that can even touch the realm of creaminess in the way some nuts do. Just lovely.

For teas to qualify to be in our Masters Teas collection, they must have complexity that slowly opens and lingers on the palate. They are best enjoyed when sipped very slowly allowing for the nuances to develop on your taste buds like fine wine. Give each sip a little time to tell you its whole story.

As I write this, it is a cold, grey February day and it’s been snowing since yesterday morning. This tea reminds me that spring is coming soon and that fresh green teas will be on my taster’s table in the near future. Hope and spring in a teacup.

Brewing Notes: Today I brewed this a bit on the light side with 2 grams of leaves, in about 118 ml of 180F water for roughly 1 min 15 seconds in a gaiwan. It is a very forgiving tea, so you can try more leaf and less time to maximize the number of infusions.

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