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Sanxia Biluochun

Biluochun or 碧螺春 is a style of unoxidized green tea made from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. Biluochun came from Jiansu, China and was adopted by green tea makers of Sanxia in Taiwan in the early 1900's. The dry tea leaves are small and fuzzy as young tea buds are picked for the making of this tea.

The prized batches are typically made with tea leaves harvested early in the Spring season, at the end of March and before the first week of April. Locals often define the ideal harvest period as the two weeks between the ChunFen (春分) and QingMing (清明) period on the Solar Term, or the twenty-four periods (二十四節氣) in traditional East Asian lunisolar calendars.

Biluochun green tea is known for its beautiful fragrance. Its infusion is clear and bright, typically in a powdery eggshell yellow. The most common tasting notes for Biluochun are fresh cut grass and pome fruits (think apple or pear).

Other names: Pi Lo Chun, Bi Luo Chun.

Biluochun Origin

Biluochun’s origin traces back to the Dongting mountain region of Suzhou in Jiangsu of China 蘇州洞庭山, 江蘇省. It is one of the ten most famous styles of Chinese Teas, praised for its incredible fragrance and is named Biluochun by Kangxi emperor of Qing Dynasty.

Bi (碧), refers to this jade like green shades, Luo (螺), refers to its snail like curl when the tea leaves are rolled into a tight swirl, and finally Chun (春), refers to its Spring like quality and the ideal harvest time for this tea.

Prior to its official name by Kangxi emperor, this tea was locally called Xia Sha Ren Xiang (嚇煞人香), or “Shocking Fragrant Tea”. Legend had it a young tea picker ran out of space in her basket and store the harvested tea leaves between her body and her shirt. The tea leaves were gently heated by her body heat and emitted a strong and beautiful aroma that shocked the tea picker.

green tea leaf dry green tea leaves green tea liquor

Taiwanese Biluochun

History

The northern part of Taiwan has been cultivating tea plants since the mid 1800’s. The commercial tea industry followed the growth of the Taiwanese tea export after the Opium War when the Treaty of Tianjin opened the Port TamSui to foreign trade. In its early days, Taiwanese tea production were mostly oolong or black teas.

After the Chinese Civil War in 1945, families from all over Chine migrated to Taiwan with the KMT party. A small population of northern Chinese who settled in northern Taiwan requested their local tea makers to produce green tea in the style of their hometown instead of oolongs. Their nostalgic request gave rise to green tea production in the northwest hilly region of Sanxia.

Its Name

Taiwanese made green tea used to be called “Hai Shan Green Tea” (海山綠茶), or “Ocean Mountain Green Tea”, name after Sanxia's regional designation inherited during the Japanese Occupation. “Hai Shan Jun” (海山郡) or “Ocean Mountain County” was used to describe the hilly mountainous valley and rivers that lead to the South China Sea. The quality and fragrance of the Hai Shan Green Tea was so impressive that locals started to call it Biluochun, after the famous green tea of China. Today the Taiwanese version has “Sanxia” (三峽) added to the name Biluochun to designate production region.

Growing region

The tea production region in Sanxia, though relatively small, is surrounded by Baiji Mountain Range and is blessed with good weather and soil, ideal for green tea production. What distinguish Taiwanese Biluochun is the tea cultivar, Qingxin Ganzai (青心柑仔), which has a gentle mandarin citrus fragrance and a sweet nutty mung bean aroma. Same as its China counterpart, prized Biluochun requires harvesting younger tea leaves, the fuzzy baby bud and two leaves, before first week of April.

Biluochun Caffeine

Biluochun has a relatively higher caffeine content compared to other types of tea. The signature young tea buds used to produce Biluochun contain the highest amounts of caffeine in the tea plant. Biluochun is a good option as a morning green tea or for an afternoon pick me up. Brewing with higher temperature also increase the caffeine extraction, though it increases the astringency of the brew.

There are a few other factors that impact the caffeine content in your brew. Read more about tea in caffeine here.

Biluochun Health Benefits

Green tea typically has the largest amounts of antioxidants due to its high polyphenol content and Biluochun is no exception. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, green tea has a cooling effect on the body, therefore making it a good option for summer tea drinking.

All teas (green, oolong, black, white) are made from the tea plant Camellia sinensis therefore they share similar health benefits. Read more here.

two cups and green tea gaiwan

How to brew Biluochun

It’s best to drink Biluochun during the day due to its caffeine content and body cooling effect. Green tea commonly irritates the stomach, so it is recommended to drink Biluochun after or during meals but never on an empty stomach. 

We recommend brewing this Taiwanese green tea at a slightly lower temperature when it is hot brewed, at around 175 degrees F, to bring out more of its sweetness. It is also deliciously refreshing cold brewed.

Feel free to use these brewing instructions as a guide or starting point for brewing this tea.

Biluochun brewing tea ratio:

Loose leaf tea 6 grams
Water 237 ml (175 degrees F / 80 degrees C)

Pour hot water on your tea brewing vessel and teacup to warm them up. Add 2 teaspoon of Biluochun tea leaves into your favorite brewing cup or teapot. Pour filtered water heated to 175°F / 80°C and steep for 1 – 2 minutes. Strain. Re-steep for at least 2 more times. Enjoy!

Check our step-by-step tea brewing guides for a more detail explanation and guidance on cold brew.

Where to buy Taiwanese Biluochun

Taiwan is known for oolongs therefore availability of Sanxia Biluochun green tea is harder to find. Here is a version from a Sanxia tea family who has been making this style of green tea for four generations. We named it Canyon Green to articulate the mountainous valley terrain of its terroir.

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