Dragon Blood 2015 Spring Lin Cang Zi Juan Raw Purple Tea

Tea type
Pu'erh Tea
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Astringent, Butter, Cedar, Char, Citrus, Citrus Zest, Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Licorice, Metallic, Mineral, Mushrooms, Pine, Smoke, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables, Wood, Honey, Sugar, Floral, Pleasantly Sour, Heavy, Spicy, Thick, Cranberry, Dried Fruit, Dry Grass, Raisins, Tart, Vegetal, Roasted
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Edit tea info Last updated by Togo
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 oz / 99 ml

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16 Tasting Notes View all

  • “As far as I can remember, I haven’t had a purple (Zi Juan) varietal made in sheng before. I’ve had a the Purple Beauty green tea, which although I found very unique, I couldn’t quite get behind;...” Read full tasting note
  • “Purple tea is something that I think everyone should try, but not everyone will like. It has this uniquely vegetal taste that’s hard to pin down, and an odd smokiness that’s slightly medicinal,...” Read full tasting note
  • “Thick, super spicy and a heavy Hongcha-like sweetness. Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2015-dragon-blood-blt” Read full tasting note
  • “Dry leaf: Prune, raisin, tart dried cranberry, smokey tobacco. Loose cake, small material, dry, brittle. Almost black charcoal grey color with the occasional silver streak. Taste: Vegetal, dried...” Read full tasting note

From Bitterleaf Teas

Our Dragon Blood Zi Juan Purple is sourced from a variety of tea that naturally has higher levels of anthocyanin. This not only gives the tea a purple colour, but gives it higher antioxidant properties which can promote cardiovascular health. Aside from the heralded health benefits, this is a unique tea, with a slight vegetal taste leading to a smoky sweetness. Processed similarly to a raw Puer, this tea can be stored for later or enjoyed now.

This tea has been yet again restocked in 2019. Since its initial release in 2015, it has changed quite a bit – but for the better. It’s much less astringent at this point and has smoothed out significantly. There is also more noticeable fruitiness in the flavour and a natural smokiness, which provides a welcomed contrast.

Even we didn’t expect this tea to develop as well as it has, but we’re extremely happy with the results so far.

While various health claims are commonly attached to purple tea, we can’t make any verifiable claims about whether or not this tea can or can’t give you superpowers, so it’s best to just try for yourself.

About Bitterleaf Teas View company

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16 Tasting Notes

865 tasting notes

As far as I can remember, I haven’t had a purple (Zi Juan) varietal made in sheng before. I’ve had a the Purple Beauty green tea, which although I found very unique, I couldn’t quite get behind; and then also some Kenyan white and oolong teas. I am also still yet to try a black tea from this varietal, which I think should work well. In spite of my inconsistent reception of Zi Cha, I decided to get a whole cake (albeit a small 100g one) of Dragon Blood, aiming to try to understand it better than a couple of sessions from a sample allow for. And after my first session with the tea today, I am glad I did. The profile is reminiscent of Purple Beauty, but the overall experience is more positive.

The dry leaves smell of forest floor, smoke – a sign of things to come. On the other hand, the aromas emerging from the wet leaves are so unique I can’t place them at all. The scent is a bit cedar/forest like, a bit like an aged sheng, but also unlike anything I know. Maybe if I were familiar with the dragon blood incense, I could make a better comparison. The aroma in the empty cup is then very woody and sweet, which matches the aftertaste to a certain degree as one would expect.

The rinse is already very flavourful – citrusy, mushroomy, and metallic. It has a frothy texture and a buttery aftertaste. The first infusion has the profile of an aged sheng, with a good sweetness and a strong note of citrus zest. It is very smooth and viscous initially, then a little powdery, and sandpaper-like after swallowing, without much astringency. Some astringency does however appear from 2nd infusion onward. The taste profile then becomes more woody and smoky, with flavours of conifer trees, carambola, copper, bok choy, and charcoal roasted aubergine. There is a strong woody sweetness throughout that persists into the aftertaste, which also displays notes of licorice root and pine needles.

I was also happy to learn that the tea has a strong defocusing cha qi, which is exactly what I needed today. It helps me fight some mild paranoia and makes me want to dance at the same time.

Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEOYY4rLJrE

Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Cedar, Char, Citrus, Citrus Zest, Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Licorice, Metallic, Mineral, Mushrooms, Pine, Smoke, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

An interesting one!


I love the frenetic song pairing

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8 tasting notes

Purple tea is something that I think everyone should try, but not everyone will like. It has this uniquely vegetal taste that’s hard to pin down, and an odd smokiness that’s slightly medicinal, kind of similar to a middle-aged sheng, but not quite. What I like the most about this tea is how rapidly the flavors evolve from steep to steep, and how noticeable the evolution is. With most budget-friendly pu-erhs, the flavors evolve in a more subtle way until they eventually fade out or drop off, but this tea’s flavors don’t fade—it’s almost as if they’re replaced, which I find really interesting…

Read the full review at: https://shenggut.wixsite.com/shenggut/single-post/2017/07/30/Bitterleaf-Dragon-Blood-Lin-Cang-Zi-Juan-Raw-Purple-Tea-Spring-2015

Flavors: Floral, Pleasantly Sour, Smoke, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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127 tasting notes

Thick, super spicy and a heavy Hongcha-like sweetness.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2015-dragon-blood-blt

Flavors: Heavy, Spicy, Sweet, Thick

8 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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8 tasting notes

Dry leaf: Prune, raisin, tart dried cranberry, smokey tobacco. Loose cake, small material, dry, brittle. Almost black charcoal grey color with the occasional silver streak.

Taste: Vegetal, dried grass, a little hay, dried cranberries and a touch of peach. Light sweetness and light sourness. Light mouthfeel, no astringency.

Liquor: Yellow to dark yellow-grey.

Spent leaf: Dark brown with a little dark olive.

Vessel: Clay teapot (125ml)

I decided to add this tea (sample size) to my recent tea ware order from BItterleaf. I had never tried a purple so, why not? Gotta explore everything. I went ahead and used my dedicated sheng clay pot, which incidentally, was part of that tea ware order as well. (Shameless plug for Bitterleaf: they have such beautiful tea ware and the most elegant photography that shows it all off so well!) I’m super happy with this pot (Chaozhou Zhuni clay Lingyan teapot). It’s so beautiful, the lid fits perfectly, and I love the shape of the stubby little spout. Oh dang – were we talking about tea?

I loved the dry material. It was lightly compressed and fell apart with a little gentle wiggling and coaxing. The smell was very sheng-like but had a bit of a smokiness and dried grass/hay and was a nice black-charcoal grey color. The spent leaves reminded me of seaweed, very dark, but not quite black – more of a charcoal grey color with a tiny bit of dark green here and there.

A quick 5 second rinse and I was off. Vegetal, tart, dried fruits, smooth. The liquor darkened up on the second and third steeping and stayed that same dark yellow color throughout. Something interesting – this tea looked different in my white porcelain cup. It had a grey tint to it – sort of around the edges of the cup – something I couldn’t see in my glass pitcher as the light was just passing right though, with no background to view the color against. When I got near the bottom of the cup, there was a very very fine grey sediment sitting in the last few drops. This must explain the grey hue I was getting around the edges of my full cup. Is this the anthocyanin pigment I’m seeing? Not sure. Perhaps this is where the purple tea name comes in along with the dry leaf being a charcoal like color. (I’d be interested to know if anyone else has seen this sediment too so please leave me a comment if so).

For me, the mouthfeel was quite light. I would have preferred it to be a little heavier in my mouth. But, to be fair, I might be missing body and some of the other subtle flavors because I was a little shy on my leaf. No particular reason other than it’s early Sunday morning and I’m a little fuzzy. (I’ll adjust my leaf and my rating after my next session.) Overall, I quite enjoyed this tea which to me, was unique.

Flavors: Cranberry, Dried Fruit, Dry Grass, Raisins, Smoke, Tart, Vegetal

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

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141 tasting notes

This cake looks weird. it’s a very loose compression, and the leaves are black with hints of gold, it looks like a black tea cake

This is really weird stuff I gotta say it took me aback a bit, granted this is the only purple varietal sheng I’ve had, but for the first few steeps it was somewhere between a rock oolong and a sheng puer. I got citrus/apricot notes, and seafoody plumminess and sweet grass, and a lot of minerality. Smokiness entered and this charcoal roastiness came forward, with a lot of sweetness and astringency throughout, it sort of fell into this pattern of smoky, sweet, sour, dry sheng, which was still quite enjoyable, the smoke eventually fades to bring sour florals and vegetables

I didn’t know what to expect from this so I brewed in my gaiwan, I’m sure my qinzhou (young sheng) teapot would’ve helped with the astringency, but I don’t think I’d be comfortable brewing this in it, the charcoal roastiness in the middle was really potent, I wrote here in my notes that if in the future I have a rock oolong teapot, I would actually be comfortable brewing it in that.

I really like this though. I always seem to love purple teas. Anyone have any purple puerh recommendations?

*Ok so this qi just hit me like a half hour after I started drinking this wtf kinda drunk now

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921 tasting notes

Crazy game update time! Yesterday I woke up early, as Ben was leaving it caused me to become awake enough to have to go to the bathroom (tea drinkers woes) and I saw my phone was blinking up a storm, the Minecraft update had arrived…and my desire to go back to sleep left. New blocks and banners make my builder self happy (though so bummed about no purpur blocks, I neeeeed them) and the Chinese Mashup Pack was beautiful, but with almost all the really thematic textures it makes my world look so tacky so I didn’t buy it. Tempting though for a new world full of Chinese builds, but I have enough to do on Ramble, even if it does mean no Jianshi zombies. Later that night, unable to sleep, my phone starts blinking like crazy…apparently Ark Primitive+ got a massive much needed update to fix the enormity of bugs, so I keep bouncing between Minecraft and Ark and that is more or less my life right now!!

It is probably well known by now that I have a ‘thing’ for purple tea, and it is not just because it gives me a reason to shout ANTHOCYANIN like a battle cry, there is something about this flavonoid pigment that subtly alters the taste to a way that makes my brain happy. It is no shock that many of my favorite foods and flowers (and edible flowers) are loaded with Anthocyanin, so of course teas with high levels of Anthocycanin have to be tried. And they do taste different than their less purple associates, no matter how it is processed, I once tried a Kenyan Silver Needle and a Kenyan Purple Silver Needle from the same farm and year, and yep, definitely a difference in taste, so it is not just a visual difference. This all leads up to today’s tea from Bitterleaf Teas, Dragon Blood 2015 Spring Lin Cang Zi Juan Raw Purple Tea. Zi Juan (which is one of the names for Purple Tea, along with Zi Ya, and Zi Cha) can be processed like any tea (ones processed like a Hong Cha are a personal favorite) and this one is processed similar to a Sheng Puerh, similar enough that I brew it like I would a young sheng. Before brewing though, I need to give the beautiful dark leaves a good sniffing, and I am greeted with a smorgasbord of notes! Grilled eggplants, fresh sage and oregano, distant almost perfectly ripe peaches, basil, lettuce, and cooked tomatoes. It smells like a veggie kebab straight off the grill on a summer day, I want to eat the leaves, it is so savory and that slight sweet edge from the peach note is delectable.

After the rinse and first steep, the aroma of the leaves is fascinating, it is malty yet meaty, savory and sweet, green and smoky, fun times! Notes of sage, grilled eggplant, lettuce, gentle pine wood campfire after rain, pine greenwood, and a touch of camphor lift off the wet leaves. The liquid is light, a buttery blend of eggplant (man I really want Baba Ghanoush now) with fresh sage and a touch of peach skin and peach leaves. Like the dry leaves the peach note is just short of being perfectly ripe so it has that crispness and not just intense sweetness that a perfect ripe peach has, I am Southern and the ripeness of peaches is very important, clearly.

This tea starts out nectar sweet, like an immense burst of flower nectar that takes you by surprise, it then changes into something else and depending on what steep it is can be either vegetal notes of lettuce and bok choy or bitter hops. This then turns into the part of the tea that was one of my favorites, grilled eggplants! I hated eggplant when I was a kid, nowI love them, especially when they have been grilled and have that touch of smokiness to them. The finish of the first couple steeps all have a peculiar hard to nail down finish, it is not quite malty, not quite savory, not quite salty…it flits around between different notes at lighting speed that when I finally feel like I know what it is the taste has drifted off to something else, it reminds me a bit of the way Kimchi dances around from note to note at a rapid speed, though it tastes nothing like Kimchi except savory and a bit like cooked cabbage. The mouthfeel starts thick and stays thick, almost oily, coating my mouth like a non-Newtonian solid. I enjoyed the first part of this session so much I drew a little heart in my notebook next to it.

Let it be known that steep four, five, and six had me floating on an eggplant like cloud. Seriously I was so happy and floaty that I think I am going to drink this tea next time I have to do public speaking…I might not make any sense though since I am pretty sure this tea makes me super tea stoned. Even though this tea’s qi is super powerful, its effects were pleasant, not the ants crawling under my skin sensation some powerful qi can hit me with. There is more to the middle steeps than a qi that makes me float off into another realm, there is the grilled eggplant note that sticks around til the very end, a gentle sweet sugar cane note, a rain on slate and copper note with a finish of bok choy. Like the earlier steeps this one is thick and oily but finishes with a subtle lightness that matches the floaty feel of the tea.

The end is near, the final three steeps bring in notes of sugar cane, distant grilled eggplants (until the very last steep, steep ten, where it is gone) and a blend of mineral and copper. There are fleeting notes of bok choy and peaches, but they float away quickly, at times having me wonder if I dreamed them. This was quite the enjoyable session, one that lifted my spirits and made me feel relaxed and blissfully without pain, something someone with Fibromyalgia doesn’t get much of. I am saving the rest of my sample for extra pain or stress filled days and hope to get a cake for later, as I am very curious to see how this one ages.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/10/bitterleaf-teasl-dragon-blood-2015.html


As far as battle cries go, “ANTHOCYANIN!” is a pretty good one.

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6401 tasting notes

Sipdown (146)

Tea and music pairing take two, courtesy of my awesome tea twin Roswell Strange! Thank you, Ros!!!

So my first thoughts going into this today…how does one brew purple tea? What is purple tea? Wtf is this going to be like? I ended up going with the whole sample in a 16 oz mug for 2 min at 200, aka my brewing method for black teas I haven’t figured out yet lol. Turns out purple tea, to me at least, is like a hybrid of green and blacks. Now this could be an incredibly incorrect analysis but to me it had the vegetal flavoring of a green while it had the fuller body of a black. Personally, I enjoyed the combination.

Once I figured that out, my next conundrum was “what makes this dragon blood?” For that, unfortunately, I have no answer because to me, this just didn’t seem to fit that bill.

Finally, it was on to the song pairing. The selection for this tea was: https://youtu.be/S0BDS0-ZwOw.

Unlike yesterday, this is a band I have heard before. I mean, who doesn’t know Chasing Cars? Though prior to opening YouTube, I thought this was a new song for me. Then it started playing and I realized this is one I have heard many times before but never quite placed as a Snow Patrol song. So as it played, I sipped, this time managing not to burn myself, and thought about why Ros picked this pair…

The song starts off kind of unsettling and almost a bit striking with its sharper high notes but there is also an ethereal quality to it. To me, the background music is almost trying to pull you into a search where something is lost and there is a bit of an urgency to find it. I can imagine this playing in a movie where someone is running through a forest or the wilderness trying to get to someone or something and I think that plays off the vegetal, almost peas and spinach notes, of this tea. The urgency reflects the fullness behind that vegetal quality that I am getting here, one I doubt I would ever find in a more light and mellow green base. As the singing starts, the song continues and actually remains rather consistent for most of the four minutes, however, nearing the end it begins to build and then tapers off, just as the flavors of the tea build in your mouth while you sip and mellows in the aftertaste. All in all, both the tea and song felt a little exposed and raw, sort of like “this is what you get, no surprises, just this”.

So that was my experience today. Tbh, I had to listen to this one a couple of times to really start drawing parallels. At first I was like “I don’t get it”, as opposed to yesterday where the connection was instantly apparent. This took imagination and concentration which made for a nice peaceful break from all the stresses of the day but also might have made for a tasting note that sounds a bit like bullshit. I swear though, if you compare the two for a while, you’ll get what I mean :P

Thanks again, Roswell Strange! I look forward to the next one.

Roswell Strange

I love your interpretation! :) We definitely both drew on the feeling of “being somewhere” based on the pacing of the song, it’s lyrics, and then the notes of the tea itself. For me, I picked this one out because of some of the more fantastical and elemental imagery; the slow build up and pacing combined with the focus on weather in the lyrics makes me feel like I’m right in the eye of the storm – but in some sort of fantasy world perhaps with big smoke breathing purple dragons? where the storm has all the elements (lightening, hail, rain, fire, wind) featured in some way. The flavour I connected that with in the tea was the smoke note that I found really prominent.

Regardless of how you interpret it though, I think one thing everyone can agree on is that Snow Patrol does love songs well.


Haha I definitely got the storm element. Alas, not so much the smoke, though perhaps I was picking that up as the “fullness” I talked about that made this tea super hearty for me, as smoke would have done as well.

Autistic Goblin

I don’t know but maybe they used the dragon’s blood plant? or because the dragon’s blood plant is purple maybe they just named it after the plant? Just a thought.


Some of our teas’ names have a lot to do with the tea, and some are just names… I wouldn’t read too far into the ones that aren’t obviously apparent ;)

Autistic Goblin

But what fun would that be?


Haha true… I enjoy seeing people speculate about the names. Sometimes they come up with better reasons than we had!

Autistic Goblin

shhh! don’t tell anyone and pretend it was all your idea.

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1606 tasting notes

I’ve had so much Jade oolongs lately. They are all starting to taste pretty similar. Some salts starting building up in my boiler, so I had to get water from somewhere else. It ruined the last of my Alishan too.

Since my stomach was cramping and I had a craving for a chocolaty black tea, I perused my darker tea selections. I almost picked a flavored Pu-Erh, but then again, the flavorings would upset my stomach too. Then there were twinofmunin’s bags waiting for me. I’ve been fascinated by this tea to say the least. I’ve had purple before, and they normally have a weird earthy quality that is hard to describe for me. Some pu-erh’s have aided stomach cramps before-despite them CAUSING them on a usual basis, but I knew I could handle this tea. Smelling the dry leaf, it was distinctly smokey and earthy. It made me think of fresh soil growing a batch of young grass under the remains of a burned tree.

Imagery aside, the first sip made me think of the dragon blood incense. Earth remained fixated in my head after five seconds of steeping. The temperature was closer to 170 F, and I have no idea what I did for the grams. Nevertheless, the ideas of incense and earth continued in steep two at ten seconds. I grabbed my little batch of Dragon’s Blood incense for comparison, and they were pretty close. They had the same smoked and earthy qualities I pick up, but the incense was sweeter and closer to sandalwood.

Three yield the same kind of dirt profile with a little bit more grassiness than before at fifteen seconds. I actually found this tea to not be as bitter, fishy, astringent, musty, or sour as other Pu-Erh’s I’ve had. Again, I’ve had purple teas before, but this one did not have the overwhelming potency that I’m used to with Pu-Erhs. Then again, I’m not drinking any more since I have to wake up early tomorrow ( why did I even drink this in the first place?).

I am pleasantly surprised that this tea did not affect me too much. The earthiness was welcomed, but I would not have it in large quantities any time soon. Not sure who I’d recommend it to.


sometimes certain teas give me burning in by lower gut around 8pm at night

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14155 tasting notes

This is a queued tasting note.

I’m like 90% sure the only company I’ve ever had purple tea from was Butiki, so when I saw that Bitterleaf was carrying this tea (which sounded fucking amazing) it quickly became the number one tea from Bitterleaf that I just needed to try. Fast forward to me placing my first, small, order with Bitterleaf for teaware and this wound up being the only actual tea I included in my order.

When my order arrived, this was the first tea I made the next day (’cause I got my order super late at night, and caffeine…) which meant I wound up drinking it at 6:30 in the fucking morning as my commute to work tea! Western style, given that it was a commute tea.

- Spinach/Peas
- Very vegetal first 1/2 of sip
- Second 1/2 is more smokey
- A very smooth, sweet smokey though
- Floral jasmine-y undertones
- Strong on the stomach; not one to drink before breakfast

Not totally sure what the name Dragon Blood come from, but after trying this is seems totally appropriate given the soft smoky notes of the tea and kind of magical quality of the different flavour notes coming together. But like I observed, it was a fairly harsh tea on my stomach given I hadn’t actually had anything to eat at that point in the day. I definitely recommend eating prior to drinking this one, going forward.

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160 tasting notes

first time trying this tea, but today has been a long day; i’ll have to give it a more attentive session later.

cake smells fruity and delicious.

followed brewing instructions except for leaf:water ratio. finding it pleasant in spite of my deviance. ;) first couple of steeps very faintly smoky, notably vegetal. on the second steep, starting to feel a little of that weird juicy bitterness that i’m starting to associate with purple tea. just a hint, though. inside of the gaiwan lid smells very slightly hay, very slightly dried fruits, somewhat smoky. i’m liking how solid the “midrange” of the tea feels. almost a minty butteriness near the end of the sip, as well? i am not good at descriptors (yet?).
third steep adding some astringency in a nice, mouth-throat-cooling-feeling way.
further steeps in a similar vein, with bulk of the flavour being slightly buttery, faintly roasty vegetal, and leaving a tingly cool feeling around the back edges of my tongue.

leaves are a beautiful dark blue-green in the gaiwan.

Flavors: Roasted, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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