Purple Needle Black Tea of Jing Mai Mountain * Spring 2018

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Black Tea
Black Tea Leaves
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From Yunnan Sourcing

Purple leaf “Zi Cha” was harvested in Late April from the Jing Mai mountainous area in Lancang county of Simao. The fresh purple leaves were then processed into a flat needle style tea. The processed tea leaves are black with tiny golden shoots on some.

The brewed tea is citrus fruity sweet and very vibrant in the mouth. The smell is floral and grapefruit. The tea soup is a deep red-orange with hints of purple and very clear.

A unique tea from “Zi Cha” purple tea leaves which is quite different from “Wild Purple / Ye Sheng” varietal black tea.

April 2018 Harvest

For more information on Purple tea read below:

Yunnan pu-erh tea grows in the superior environment of low latitude, high altitude South Asian tropics and achieves many qualities of superior tea. Among pu-erh tea, purplish red bud tea is particularly valued.

During the hot, humid summer and fall seasons a portion of tea tree buds are purplish red colored. The source of the color is anthocyanin, which changes color along with cell sap acidity. High levels of acidity lead to red color, while medium acidity is more purple, and high alkalinity tends toward indigo. Purplish red tea results from an inherited reaction to unfavorable hot and humid summer environmental conditions, providing the tea tree with a mechanism for fighting scorching ultraviolet rays.

Pu-erh tea growing areas tend to be between 1000 and 2000m elevation. According to surveys, higher altitude tea growing areas receive as much as 8 times the ultraviolet light of lower altitude growing areas. During the dry spring tea season, the atmosphere tends to be quite dusty which serves to reflect, scatter, and absorb most ultraviolet light. Entering into the rainy season, atmospheric dust is frequently washed away by rain. These clean, clear atmospheric conditions allow virtually all UV light reach the surface. In order to resist damage from this shortwave radiation, tea leaves produce anthocyanin, which can reflect away a portion of the UV light hitting the leaves. Although a southern Yunnan tea field during the high of the summer is a sea of green, most eye-catching are the specks of purplish-red scattered throughout. Purple bud tea trees occupy approximately 1-2% of all tea trees, and occur with varying intensities of purple.

Purplish red bud tea has throughout history been regarded as a standard for quality tea. Lu Yu in the “Cha Jing” evaluating the color of tea leaves, came to the early conclusion: “bright cliffs and gloomy forests, purple is the highest and green the second”. Purple tea features prominent fragrance and rich flavor. A small number of tea trees growing on the rocky slopes of Fujian’s Zhengyi mountain, because of their red color, are given the famous name Da Hong Pao. Another historically famous purple tea is Zhejiang province’s Guzhu Zisun.

Purple Bud Tea, grown in high mountain ancient tea fields, is hand-picked by growers who select only young tender buds from the purple tea trees. It is solely and painstakingly processed to produce a very small quantity of heavenly tea.

Purple bud tea anthocyanin can be bitter, so it is recommended that those who do not enjoy bitter flavors reduce the strength of their brew so as to enjoy the fine tea flavor.

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2 Tasting Notes

11387 tasting notes

Another tea that I shared w/ my roommates over a nice Gongfu session.

They were fascinated by the idea of purple tea as a concept so I pulled some options from my cupboard and let them pick one for us to try – this is what they selected, and it was actually my first time tasting it too so we all got to experience it together for the first time.

I was a bit worried because I know purple teas can often taste quite bitter, but surprisingly this didn’t really taste bitter at all in any of the infusions that I tried and neither of the roommates seemed to express that they experienced bitterness either. In general, I thought this was nice and medium bodied/smooth and it took quite a while for it to really open up and start giving more flavourful and interesting infusions – initially it was just mildly sweet and maybe a touch woody? Nice and golden, a little toasty!?

When it started getting a bit more interesting it was like drinking a mix of something kind of sweet and starchy like taro with hints of fruit in the undertone and more of a woody/toasty kind of vibe. Nothing really distinct in the tasting notes, but just more of them in general. Lovely flavour though! Honestly, it was more aromatic than flavourful but I enjoyed sharing it and getting to have that first tasting/experience with someone else.

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