Thursday, June 07, 2007

Anodyne: A Tale of Two Bi Luo Chun Teas

The Early Spring Bi Luo Chun from Jing Tea Shop comes from the East Dong Ting Mountain, Jiang Su Province. The website refers to it as a "first pick" from early spring 2007. It is always a pleasure to see and experience the soft little downy white curls of leaf. In this Bi Luo Chun I do catch the more ethereal floral note that wafts in and out of the deeper nutty character. I think of this as catching the sight of butterfly wings from one's peripheral vision. There and gone...there and back again. A light citrus twist at the end goes up really well against the sweetness. The layers of flavor unfold even more for me in the second infusion.

Comparatively, as I posted on May 31, 2007 in Anodyne on TeaSpring’s Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun, I certainly don't dislike the TeaSpring 2007 Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun. I just haven't found this as enchanting as ones I've had in years past. Perhaps I've just not unlocked the magical brewing parameters as this can be a tricky green to get right. It's certainly a pleasant enough tea--nutty and vegetal and quite a solid and substantial tea experience. It falls into that category I think of as "nourishing." Not as ethereal an experience for me as in year's past.

Of these two, and not having gone cup-to-cup for specifics, I do have a preference for the Jing Tea Shop Bi Luo Chun even while I've been able to enjoy them both. I'm not certain I've totally unlocked the mystery of the Bi Luo Chun from TeaSpring. Though I note that the layers of flavor came through easily enough in the one from Jing Tea Shop without undue fussing on my part.

The TeaSpring Bi Luo Chun is a green tea that strikes me as having that "nourishing" character; the one from Jing Tea Shop speaks more clearly to me of fresh and emergent spring green.

The taste of certain teas such as this particular Bi Luo Chun is like being dropped into the middle of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine when...

" all began on a morning such as this...Clover blossoms, the few unharvested dandelion fires, ants, sticks, pebbles, remnants of last year's July Fourth squibs and punks, but predominantly clear green, a fount leaped up from the chattering mower. A cool soft fount: Grandfather imagined it tickling his legs, spraying his warm face, filling his nostrils with the timeless scent of a new season begun, with the promise that, yes, we'll all live another twelve months." (Dandelion Wine)

On our walk today, that familiar nose-tickling pungent scent permeated the air as green argyle-patterns and faery circles emerged in the lawns. The grass blown up on the pavement looked like piles of Ko-kei cha ready for brewing, and the scent in the air reminded me of some Sencha and certain Chinese greens. Certainly the shades of green grass could be found in both Japanese and China green teas.

"Yes, summer was rituals, each with its natural time and place. The ritual of lemonade or ice-tea making, the ritual of wine, shoes, or no shoes, and at last, swiftly following the others, with quiet dignity, the ritual of the front-porch swing." (Dandelion Wine)

For some of us, one of the spring-into-summer rituals is that exploration of the new crop of Chinese green teas. Sources for the teas:

-Holly L. Hatfield-Busk

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