Today I was really in the mood for a smokey green tea and I felt like trying What-Cha’s Yunnan Graceful Purple Zi Juan tea, although I mistakenly grabbed the Zhejiang Purple Bamboo Shoot ‘Zi Sun Cha’ Green Tea package without realizing it (and even when I brewed the tea I completely ignored the name on the bag). So I was a little confused during my tasting when I thought I was brewing a purple tea. I didn’t realize my mistake until I brewed it a second time and looked at the bag.
I tried to do a gongfu session with this tea, but the liquor was very light so I decided to skip that and go straight into western brewing. I know the liquor color is not always indicative of the brewed tea, but I decided to be vain and judge the tea by its appearance.
For my first infusion I used water at 176°F for three minutes. I couldn’t really discern an aroma while the aroma of the dry leaves was very intense (spinach, mushroom and spinach). The liquor was very light I tasted a very dry hay taste and slight nutty undertones.
For my second infusion I brewed at 180°F for four minutes. This time I was getting a very slight orchid scent. The liquor was still light, but not as delicate as the last infusion. This time it was nuttier than anything else, although it was vaguely vegetal.
For my third and final infusion I brewed at 190°F for five minutes. It still had the orchid scent from the last infusion, but it also had cherry hints. The taste was pretty much identical to the last.
(I was confused here, because I had not realized that this was not a smokey tea. Ok in my mind I knew it wasn’t a purple tea, but I have yet to have a mislabeled tea at What-cha.)
I decided to start again (still did not look at the name on the bag) and steep the tea even longer than before. With my new leaves I brewed at 185°F for four minutes. This time I was getting an orchid and vegetal scent. As for the taste, it wasn’t drastically different from my first infusion, it still was nutty, and the hay taste was the star.
For my next infusion I brewed at 195°F for five and half minutes. This time it was very different. The liquor was pale like all earlier tries, but the taste was amazing. This time it had a sweet edge as well as being nutty. The sweetness tasted raw like freshly picked sugarcane.
(At this point I finally discovered that this was not a smokey purple tea)
I am rather fond of this tea, even though before my realization it confused me while it is a lot lighter than my everyday type of green tea. I found it enjoyable. This Zi Sun Cha feels like a white tea drinker’s introduction to greens, as well as the reverse. Although if I blindly tasted this I might think it was an oolong because of the floral notes to it. This is too light of tea for me to recommend gongfu brewing this; it becomes interesting the longer it is steeped. I also found it interesting that the leaves feel like they can be continuously reused even though I had relatively long steep times, it never felt watery or thin. I feel that I can serve this to any guest without them complaining about the bitterness (all my guests are unenlightened plebeians who mistake astringency with bitterness).
(Underexposed pictures at http://rah-tea.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-chas-zhejiang-purple-bamboo-shoot.html)