Bi Luo Chun - Green Snail Spring Green Tea

by cazort

All about Bi Luo Chun, also spelled Pi Lo Chun, or English, green snail spring: where to buy, how to tell quality, etc.

Bi Luo Chun, sometimes transliterated as Bi Lo Chun, or numerous other variants, or called by its English translation "Green Snail Spring", is a high-end type of Chinese green tea, originating in Jiangsu province.

This page gives an overview of this type of tea, and some advice for buying it, and reviews of specific examples of this tea that I have sampled that are widely available in the U.S.

What is Bi Luo Chun? General advice.

Buy from companies that know Chinese green tea well; expect to pay a lot for the best teas.

Bi Luo Chun, also sometimes spelled Pi Lo Chun, is a style of green tea originating in China, characterized by a tightly-rolled shape of the dry leaf.  Its name is usually translated as green snail spring, reflecting the fact that the curl of the leaves make some leaves resemble a small snail shape, and the fact that it is a green tea harvested in the spring.

This type of tea is typically only available in loose-leaf: I have never seen it for sale in tea bags.  I recommend buying Bi Luo Chun from companies that specialize in Chinese teas.  Expect to pay over $60 a pound, or often up to $20 for a quarter pound, for good quality tea of this type.  However, there is one bargain-priced tea in this style that I recommend below.

Teavana's (Discontinued) Pi Lo Chun

Very good, high-quality and enjoyable, but overpriced, like many of Teavana's offerings

Teavana, a company that I have mixed feelings about due to their pushy sales practices, used to sell a tea of this style, but they have since discontinued it from their offerings.

I thought it was quite good--considerably better, I might add, than the other brand of this type of green tea that I buy more regularly.  The problem was, it was not good enough to justify the price.  I also thought, while it was very smooth, that it was a little on the weak side.

Below, I recommend a tea that is both cheaper and higher-quality than what Teavana used to sell.

Starway's Bi Luo Chun (Bilouchun)

An exceptional deal among loose-leaf green teas

When I first located this tea, it was priced under $4 for 6 ounces; the price has gone up to about $5, but this still makes it extraordinarily cheap as green teas go.  What is most surprising about this tea, however, is how good it is.

Starway's products are not labelled with any brand name--Starway is just the name of the importer.  Look for the green tins pictured below.  As a side note, while I love this company's green and white teas, I do not recommend their oolong or Pu-erh (which come in brown tins).

Where to buy?  Look in Asian markets, especially Chinese ones.  I have found this tea for sale in Chinese and Vietnamese markets in Philadelphia, but have never seen it for sale in Japanese or Korean markets, which tend to sell more Japanese-style green teas.

Warning: Although I also love the Huangshan Mao Feng green tea from this company, and have heard good things about their shou mei white tea, I do not recommend their oolongs or plain green tea.

Starway's Bi Luo Chun and Huangshan Maofeng
Starway's Bi Luo Chun and Huangshan Maofeng

TeaVivre's Bi Luo Chun

My favorite example of this style of green tea: highly recommended!

TeaVivre is a newly started business that has quickly become one of my favorite tea companies.  Located in China, the company is different from most Western countries in that it operates in and ships from China.  This means that shipping costs are higher, and shipping is a bit slower, but the prices are lower, and the product is fresher.

The Bi Luo Chun from TeaVivre that I sampled is my favorite example of this style of tea.  It also has a beautiful leaf shape, pictured below, which to a trained eye can be a pretty reliable sign of quality.

I found this batch of tea stronger in flavor but very pleasing and easy to brew to satisfaction.

Loose-Leaf Bi Luo Chun
Loose-Leaf Bi Luo Chun

Read More About Other Types of Tea

I maintain RateTea and also maintain a number of articles on this site about tea.
RateTea is a social and community website where anyone can rate and review teas.
Chun mee, or precious eyebrows, a Chinese green tea. About this tea, tips for buying it.
All about tea: types of tea, tea companies and places to buy tea, how to select the best tea, etc.
Reviews of TeaVivre as a company, and their teas. TeaVivre specializes in loose-leaf tea direct shipped from China.
Updated: 07/01/2013, cazort
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