Yunnan "Purple Beauty" Green Tea from Lancang * Spring 2017

Tea type
Green Tea
Green Tea Leaves
Almond, Astringent, Bitter, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Coffee, Cream, Grain, Grapes, Grass, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Popcorn, Roasted, Spinach, Umami, Wood, Earth, Smoke, Vegetal
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Bulk, Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by eastkyteaguy
Average preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 6 g 5 oz / 134 ml

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2 Tasting Notes View all

  • “This tea was yet another one of my forays into unique Chinese green teas. So-called purple teas, in general, are still somewhat new to me, and prior to trying this tea, I do not recall ever trying...” Read full tasting note
  • “The taste is surprisingly rich. There’s smokiness alongside with some earthy tones. It’s not sweet but not bitter either; kinda bittersweet. The mouthfeel is rather thick and slightly...” Read full tasting note

From Yunnan Sourcing

This is a Zi Juan “Purple Beauty” varietal that was grown in Lancang county in the Jingmai mountainous area. First flush of spring tea leaves were used and processed into a green tea. This is the first ever Purple Beauty Green Tea we have offered.

The taste is unique, something like a Dan Cong meets Yunnan Assamica Green Tea. The tea soup is a grey-purple color and the brewed leaves of this varietal remain dark even after many infusions. There is an umami taste, with sweetness, and slight bitter after-taste. The tea is packed with cha qi and if you are sensitive to it, you’ll most likely notice the feeling of this tea.

Late April 2017 harvest

Comparing Purple Bud and Purple Beauty:

The main difference between Purple Bud and Purple Beauty tea lies in the fact that Purple Bud tea is natural but has undergone genetic mutation due to climate and seasonal changes. Purple Beauty, on the other hand, is the result of human cultivation.

The tea community first began to notice the Purple Bud variant at Wuyi Shan. Purple Bud has long been known as a scattered deviation that grows extensively among different kinds of tea plants. It is most common in summer tea. High anthocyanin content provides its purple color. It also results in a bitter flavor, which has given the purple buds a reputation as unsuitable for tea.

However, in the late 70’s and early 80’s Wuyi Stone Tea (Yan Cha) producers discovered that Stone Tea variants could be cultivated and tamed, resulting in a fine tea variety with high yield and stress resistance. This also reduced much of the tea’s bitterness. Consequently, the Fujian Tea Research Society produced a new asexual tea variety through natural hybridization of Da Hong Pao tea: Purple Bud Stone Tea. In technical terms, it is a medium leaf, late budding, shrub tea variety. It features dark yellow-green tender tips, purple buds, purplish-red leaf bases, short space between sections, little fuzz, soft leaves, and dense bud tips. In addition, it grows with high yield, and high stress resistance. Spring buds occur in mid to late March and one-bud-three-leaf growth occurs in mid to late April. The quality of this tea is excellent when processed as an Oolong. This variety represents a successful example of utilizing and improving on precious existing tea tree resources and is suitable for widespread cultivation in Oolong tea growing areas.

Building on this breeding experience with Oolong teas, research was begun into the cultivation of variants of Yunnan large-leaf teas. In 1985, technical staff from the Yunnan Tea Research Institute discovered a tea tree with purple buds, leaves, and stalk among the institutes’ plantation of over 600,000 trees. They processed its fresh leaves to produce a dark green roasted tea. The dried tea had a purple color and maintained this color in its brewed tea liquor. It also possessed a pure fragrance and a strong, intense flavor. Because of the tea’s purple buds, leaves, and stems and the fact that it maintained this purple color after processing, they named the tea “Purple Beauty.” Through research and further cultivation, this variant has given rise to current Purple Beauty tea trees.

Purple Beauty tea trees are considered a small arbor/shrub, big leaf, medium bud variety. The tea trees have a half-open appearance with high branches and moderate branch density. Leaves grow with an upward slant.

Spring buds occur in late February and full one-bud-three-leaf growth occurs between late March and early April. Bud growth is strong with moderate density. The buds are a purple color and are relatively plump, fuzzy, and tender.

This tea is well-suited to planting in large-leaf tea growing areas due to its high capacity for cuttage reproduction and resistance to cold, drought, and disease. It can be grown in the same manner as other Yunnan large-leaf teas. Tea tree production volume is moderate. Purple Beauty has an elevated aroma, smooth and light mouth feel (kou gan), but with a noticeable bitterness. In 1991 experiments conducted by the Yunnan Institute of Material Medicine showed that Purple Beauty is capable of lowering blood pressure, which greatly added to the reputation of the tea. Numerous plantations began cuttage cultivation of Purple Beauty trees.

Traditional Purple Bud refers to a bud deviation in large-leaf arbor trees due to seasonal and growing conditions. Only a few trees in a tea forest produce purple buds, and even ancient trees produce limited purple buds. Purple Beauty, on the other hand, is a cuttage plantation tree grown with high yield and tight planting. Tea variants are preselected with light and temperature added to encourage trees throughout the plantation to develop a purple color from the buds to the leaves and stalks. Traditional Purple Bud leaf blades are thick and dark green. The prominent veins in the leaves are similar to those of wild tea. Traditional purple bud arbor tea brews a golden-yellow tea liquor with a heavy mouth feel and full flavor, while purple beauty has thin tea liquor, brownish-green color, and is relatively bitter. The two share high levels of anthocyanin, which provides certain health benefits. These purple teas contain higher tea catechin levels than other teas. Consequently, the roasted tea is somewhat bitter and astringent, and the brewed liquor is a brownish green or indigo blue color, the sun-dried version shares some character with Pu-erh and has balanced astringency / bitter character. Sun-dried Purple beauty is suitable for compression and aging as well!

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2 Tasting Notes

1031 tasting notes

This tea was yet another one of my forays into unique Chinese green teas. So-called purple teas, in general, are still somewhat new to me, and prior to trying this tea, I do not recall ever trying another green tea produced from a purple tea cultivar. If this tea is representative of all such teas, these purple green teas are very likely not for me. I can appreciate what this tea had to offer, but it did not offer the traits of Chinese green teas that I generally find to be most enjoyable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted muted aromas of roasted grain and roasted almond. The rinse brought out a stronger roasted almond aroma as well as an aroma of cooked spinach. The first infusion then saw the nose turn a little more vegetal while something of a berry-like presence started to make itself known. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of roasted almond, roasted grain, cooked spinach, grass, and cream accompanied by hints of lemon. Subsequent infusions saw a touch of coffee appear on the nose with stronger berry tones and hints of woodiness. New flavors of coffee, blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, red grape, malt, minerals, wood, umami, and popcorn hull appeared as the liquor turned more bitter and more astringent. The final few infusions were dominated by mineral, umami, and wood notes backed by hints of grass, blueberry, roasted almond, and a late-emerging menthol-like quality.

This was such a strange and challenging tea. In terms of both smell and taste, there were numerous points where it reminded me more of a Dancong or Wuyi oolong than any kind of traditional green tea. The texture of the tea liquor was also something else. It was rather full-bodied, yet displayed an alternately grainy and slippery texture that made it hard for me to focus on the flavors it presented. In the end, I did not find this tea to be bad, but it most certainly was not for me. As mentioned earlier, it did not offer enough of what I tend to enjoy in a Chinese green tea, but then again, I doubt this tea was intended to compete with most other Chinese green teas. If you are into really quirky teas, this will probably be your thing. I, however, will likely be sticking with more traditional Chinese green teas for the foreseeable future.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Bitter, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Coffee, Cream, Grain, Grapes, Grass, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Popcorn, Roasted, Spinach, Umami, Wood

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

I’m glad you reviewed this one. Purple teas can be interesting – they certainly have a unique flavor – but they are fairly bullyish and tend to dominate the flavors you would expect from the processing, as you note.

After trying white, black, and sheng purple tea processing, I think sheng pu’erh is the most successful vehicle for its flavors. I was curious how green processing would carry the flavors, but I don’t enjoy purple teas enough to have committed to a purchase. Sounds like it tastes about how I expected it too. Quirky teas for sure.


Personally, my favourite purple tea I have tried is the Feng Qing Ye Sheng Hong Cha from YS. Do you have any particular sheng in mind apefuzz?


2014 Dehong Ye Sheng white wrapper mini cake from YS was my favorite. Flavors were complex but balanced. I also have the 2013 autumn ye sheng, which wasn’t as much to my liking – less smooth, more punchy and smokey. Of course, I haven’t had either for a while, so I need to check in and see how they’re doing. I think I prefer purple sheng because the flavors make more sense. Finding fruity flavors like dried apricot, etc, is common, so the whallop of fruitiness from purple teas is a bit more normal. Plus the other powerful flavors of sheng can stand up better to the purple tea flavors.

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5 tasting notes

The taste is surprisingly rich. There’s smokiness alongside with some earthy tones.
It’s not sweet but not bitter either; kinda bittersweet.
The mouthfeel is rather thick and slightly velvety.
The aftertaste is not long yet left a nice refreshing rather sour taste in the mouth.

Flavors: Earth, Smoke, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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