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Chinese Tea Mythology: Green Snail Spring (Bi Lo Chun)

Green Snail Shell Tea
Green Snail Shell Tea

Green Snail Spring…just as the name suggests, you would think.  There are a couple of legends surrounding the origin of the name.  The first is the most obvious: the leaves are curly like snails.

But it would not have a place in the Chinese Mythology series if it did not have a magical story.  According to Studying the Art of Tea by Li Wei, there is a love story involved with the tea.

The story involves a beautiful young woman called Bilou Maiden (which translated literally to green snail) who was beautiful and kind with a beautiful voice that echoed.  She lived in the Dongting Mountain.

One day there was a four-legged beast that tore through the village frightening villagers and fishermen alike.  The height of that fear was the day the creature stole Bilou Maiden away.

Bi Lo Chun
Bi Lo Chun

In the village also lived a handsome young warrior by the name of Ah-Xiang.   He made the decision to battle the beast himself on behalf of village and save the beautiful Bilou Maiden.  Armed with only a pitchfork, he found the beast and Bilou Maiden at the lake.  He caught the beast off guard while it was bathing in the lake.  The handsome warrior rammed the pitchfork into the beast’s side.  Ah-Xiang and the beast then engaged in battle, a long laborious battle that waged for seven days and seven nights.  Ah-Xiang became wounded, his blood splattered onto a nearby tree.  The tree came to life, its branches waving in the air, lashing out at the beast until it was entrapped in the tree’s branches.  Upon hearing the beast’s capture, the entire village came with their own pitchforks and within moments the beast was overrun and destroyed.

Ah-Xiang was still severely injured.  Bilou Maiden saw how much this handsome warrior loved her for why else would he have risked his life to save her?  The girl then devoted her life to save the warrior.  Bilou Maiden tried everything to save her love but all to no avail.  Ah-Xiang still grew weaker and weaker.  Eventually Bilou Maiden tried one more time.  She went back to the lake, to the magical tree that was still stained with Ah-Xiang’s blood.  She picked the leaves, thinking that they would have healing powers.

Bilou Maiden brewed the leaves into a tea and gave it to Ah-Xiang.  Once the drink touched his lips, Ah-Xiang immediately began to recover.  He decided that he would continue to drink this tea until he recovered.  Daily he drank the tea and daily he recovered.  However, as he continued to recover Bilou Maiden began to grow weaker.  By the time our hero was completely healed, Bilou Maiden was too weak to sustain life and she died shortly afterwards.   In memory of the beautiful maiden they named the tea after her.

I think that’s such a beautiful and tragic story.  Do you think so, dear readers?