I recently realized that I have three different kinds of bilochun green tea and it didn’t take long to get the idea of a horizontal tasting of all three. Oddly enough, all three of the teas were gifts to me. Bilochun is a green tea from the Jiangsu Province in China and is considered of the most famous Chinese teas.
So, let’s get to it. I used 4 grams of dry leaf, 180 F and 100ml water per infusion and steeped them for 15 seconds + 3. I did four infusions of each tea. I don’t have much experience with bilochun, so my main purpose of this was the tell the subtle differences between the teas and not necessarily to pick a winner.
The tea on the left was from a free sample pack that was given out by a company called CraftedLeaf Teas. I have written about their other samples previously. The other two teas were both gifts from my Chinese coworker. I am pretty sure the tin in the middle was not the original tin that this tea came in, but the one he used to give the tea to me. the one on the right is one that he bought on his most recent trip and gave to me sealed in this tin. For the dry leaf, the one on the right was rolled into a ball shape, where the other two were in more of a twisted shape.
Let’s go left to right and start with the CraftedLeaf. The texture was very thick and creamy and I noticed no astringency or bitterness at all. The first infusion had a slight vegetal flavor but it was nice. The second infusion was a different story. I immediately noticed a smoky note which also tasted like meat. I have had meaty green tea before, but it is rare. On the third infusion, it hit me: bacon. It tastes like bacon. I don’t know about you, but to me that is a very good thing! The fourth infusion was still meaty and slightly less smoky but still very good. It probably could have gone for more too.
Now to the tea in the middle. I can’t read Chinese and my coworker doesn’t know much about tea, so I can’t really tell you much about this tea except that it is called bilochun (He told me). The texture was also quite thick and smooth, but with just a slight amount of astringency, but no bitterness. The first two infusions were vegetal and slightly grassy tasting, which I don’t mind. It also had a familiar vegetable note, which I am going to say is Okra. I can’t be certain, but it’s something I’ve eaten before but not very often and okra fits the bill so I’m going with it. The third was still vegetal but with a slight sweet finish, which was nice. The fourth was similar to the third.
The tea on the right was also quite think in texture with little to no astringency and no bitterness. It had a vegetal flavor as well, but I would say it’s in between the other two. But this one had an unfortunate flavor note that I can best describe as cough syrup. The cough syrup grassy vegetal flavor continued through the third infusion. I didn’t want to give up on it yet though, I just had a feeling that this tea had some good flavor in it and I just needed to bring it out. The fourth infusion was, thankfully, better. There was no more cough syrup flavor but it had a nice cherry note to it. Lesson learned here is don’t give up on tea if you don’t like it at first.
Let’s compare and contrast. I would say the texture was the most common thing among all three. It was thick and smooth with a nice mouthfeel. That’s about all they had in common, other than their name.
I may need to do some research into what can be called bilochun and just how different they can be, because these teas were all quite different. After the fourth infusion, they tasted like bacon, grass, and cherry, respectively. The leaf shapes and sizes were quite different as well. I tell you, tea is just a wonderful thing that never stops surprising you and there’s always something interesting to explore.
I could kind of tell that the smoky and the cough syrup were part of the same flavor profile, if that makes sense. They weren’t that far off, but the taste difference was there. I don’t know if this is due to a difference in processing or something else, but the CraftedLeaf just seemed to be better.
On a different note, I just drank 1,200 ml of green tea rather quickly, which I don’t recommend doing if you are new to tea. There is a thing called being tea drunk, and I am it right now.
One final note. I would like to introduce my newest teaware addition, the glass gongfu pot. It’s 250 ml and it works great.
This was a very interesting experiment. I did not expect to see such stark differences between the teas. Keep experimenting and trying new things and it will be a never-ending journey. Cheers!