Snow Bud (Xue Ya)

Snow Bud (Xue Ya)

Snow Bud (Xue Ya in Chinese) is a mysterious tea. Partially this is because it’s a newcomer–it was only invented in the 1980s–so it doesn’t have the centuries of traditional ideas around it that most teas have. It’s also just an odd duck, though, described as a white tea more often than not, but with distinct green notes, and I haven’t even mentioned yet that we have a Green Snow Bud variety (Lu Xue Ya).

Green Snow Bud doesn’t have the white down that marks white tea on its leaves, but it’s a collection of neatly furled first leaves that open up during steeping to show the buds folded inside of them. The Green Snow Bud frankly impresses me more than the Snow Bud variety, although it’s closer to the green end of the flavor spectrum than Snow Bud is.

The preference for calling Snow Bud a white tea may be because it’s from Fujian province, a coastal region near Taiwan that was the first to make white tea, although it now makes all varieties in substantial amounts. In fact, it has a strong history of tea invention, which is probably why they are making brand new varieties even today, when an aura of ancientness is one of tea producer’s favorite selling points.

Green Snow Bud (Lu Xue Ya)

Green Snow Bud (Lu Xue Ya)

I won’t pretend that I don’t swoon a bit at the teas that have been picked from ancient tea bushes grown up into trees on long-abandoned tea farms deep in Yunnan, but the Snow Buds make an excellent argument for innovation in tea. They are interesting enough to make anyone stop and think about them while drinking a cup, because everyone has to make their own judgment on the green/white debate, and good enough that you’ll come back for another cup once you’ve solved the mystery to your own satisfaction. Personally I’d say the Snow Bud is pretty much a white, but people who like whites more than I do have said it’s surprisingly green-like. The Green Snow Bud is more solidly a green, but I’m always more interested in a second cup of it than of its whiter cousin. But is that because it’s objectively better or because I’m such a green tea fan? You see the difficulty here. Clear out an empty ten minutes the first time you try either of these teas, so you can debate it properly, then come leave me a comment with your opinion.

Elizabeth, Teahouse Kuan Yin Staff

Advertisements