Royal Tea of Kenya – Royal Purple Tea
Dry: clean, sweet, softly vegetal, faintly earthy with elusive oceanic notes.
Wet: earthy, asparagus, grassy aroma
Leaf: very irregular cut, moderate to fine cut with some fine particulate, extremely dark, almost toasted woody or charcoal looking, upon steeping develops into a dark-green olive cast and the leaves look highly macerated and almost pesto-like.
Brewing method: 4g in 200 degree water in traditional porcelain cupping set, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Cup: Liquor is a remarkable plum-flesh purple, with hints of rosy, peach, and lavender hues. Very faint liquor aroma, almost like pearled sake. The palate is gripped with a strong flush of astringency, transforming the mouth with a textured, faintly metallic note that bears some resemblance to the taste of green jade. Light to medium body with earthy, bold flavors that blush out and fade into a spicy resonance on the palate. There is a subtle floral note, reminiscent of lilac and a bolder flavor that is deeply eucalyptus. There is an interesting cooling effect to the tea and it is remarkable at clearing the palate of other flavors.
I first had a chance to sample purple leaf tea through this sample about a year ago. The notes I took still very much hold up, but after many different attempts to balance the brewing of this tea I stumbled upon a linkage of ideas that has me excited to share with others.
There is a big movement in the specialty coffee industry to offer pour over coffee service and Staufs Coffee Roasters in Columbus, OH has been sharing this with the public for a number of years now. Its rather simple, a manual Hario pour over, with pre-wet filter, carefully measured coffee/water and a simple, controlled pour of water, yielding an amazing cup of your hearts desire in minutes.
What does this have to do with tea?
Many years ago while working to share the bounty and variety of teas from Ceylon, I was gifted a traditional metal spoon with fine holes in it and a deep belly. CTC-FOP grade teas would be heaped into it and water carefully poured over the leaves and the resulting cup was used to profile.
My mind made the bridge between these two methods and I began experimenting with using the Hario pour over with ‘fine’ teas and when I was brewing the Kenya purple leaf I noted a mixed cut and a fine particulate would end up in the cup, clouding it slightly. So I used the Hario method with this tea and was blown away by how amazing a 30-40sec extraction with 190 degree water, simply poured through could be.
At the last cupping I gave featuring this tea, I showed this method and it blew the minds of the tea drinkers, both in the nature of the cup, but in the brewing method. Its created a strange situation where now many people are trying various teas done as pour overs. Its not just a fad, the method works amazingly well for clarity of cup, quick extraction, clean and distinct flavors, and for teas ranging in the CTC-FOP grade range…they produce flavorful cups without the expected and hard to avoid astringency and bitterness.
Wish I could add pictures to demonstrate…but trust me…its a method worth trying.