August 15, 2011

Huang Jian Lin's Pi Lo Chun for Adagio Teas

This post was originally posted on August 9 but was removed and reposted on August 15 to coincide with the publication of other reviews of Adagio's Roots Campaign and Pi Lo Chun by participating members of the Association of Tea Bloggers.

About three weeks I received an email from the Association of Tea Bloggers (ATB) seeking participation in Adagio Teas' Roots Campaign.  The Roots Campaign allows tea drinkers to learn more about the farmers that grow the teas they drink.  The featured farmer of this round is Huang Jian Lin of Dongting, Jiangsu.  I agreed to participate and received a generous two ounces of Pi Lo Chun last week.

Preparation 1: Steep 1 (30 seconds)
Since then I have brewed the tea several times.  In the first preparation I found that the best liquor was produced after the second steep (= 60s) in my gaiwan.  My empty cup smelled like butterscotch.  Rotea tasted hay.  I detected a cream note.  The first steep of this preparation was 30 seconds while the third one was 90 seconds.  I used 180 degree F as recommended by the notes on the packet.  I felt this temperature was too hot.

I prepared the tea a second time in a ceramic pot with a sieve, again using the 180 degree F water as well as the 2 minute brewing time.  The third time I prepared the tea, I again used a gaiwan but with 170 degree F water and steeped the tea for 2 minutes.  This latter preparation yielded good liquor, too.

In preparing this post, I read Huang Jian Lin's profile and he recommends preparing the tea in a glass container though his temperature recommendation is 14 degrees hotter than that recommended by Adagio (90 degrees C = 194 degrees F).
Pi luo [sic] chun is very tender. Do not use boiling water with 100 degrees centigrade. Better use the water with 90 degrees centigrade. Second, use glass cup to brew the tea. Do not use teapot with lid. Because pi luo chun needs more air for brewing. While waiting for the tea to be cool down, you can enjoy the beautiful green soup with pleasant aroma from the glass cup.

I followed Jian Lin's advice about a glass vessel and brewed a heaping teaspoon in 180 degree F water, leaving the leaves in the cup (pictured above). The taste and smell changed dramatically over the course of our breakfast, from butterscotch nose and hay and cream flavors to dried fruit (Rotea thinks cherry) and seaweed nose and burnt toast and smoky (according to Rotea) flavors.  I wonder what we will detect the next time we prepare Pi Luo Chun.

From the Roots Campaign profile of Jian Lin, we learned that he starts picking tea leaves at 8 a.m.  Guess what?  We drink our morning tea at 8 a.m.!  (Yes, we know there is a 12-hour time difference.)

Read what other ATB members have to say about Adagio's Roots Campaign and Jian Lin's Pi Lo Chun:

Black Dragon Tea Bar
Gongfu Girl
Walker Tea Review
The Tea Enthusiasts’s Scrapbook
Tea For Today
Tea Pages
teaspoons & petals

That Pour Girl


  1. Your tasting notes are inspiring. It really is wonderful to track the taste progression over several steeps, especially as I try to explore ways in which I can cook with this batch of Pi Lo Chun.

  2. Glad to see your post Georgia, and happy to know that you followed the farmer's advice on the glass mug. We hope you felt more connected to the tea and will continue to enjoy it!

  3. I hope I'll read more reviews from you.

  4. Christine: Jian Lin's tea is one of our favorites, thank you.
    Alexis: I look forward to your Pi Lo Chun recipes.

  5. I enjoyed the personal impressions you added to the Adagio article. It is helpful to know how a real tea taster experienced this brew. Thanks for taking the time to share.


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