Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What-Cha: Yunnan Graceful Purple 'Zi Juan' Purple Varietal Green Tea, A Tea Review

I need a new shelf. My tea area is becoming slightly cluttered with tea gear, and thanks to some ebay credit scoring me three new teapots, I am about to totally run out of room. So I need a new shelf, to go next to my Tea Confessional, which will just hold my Yixing teapots. This other shelf will hold all my gaiwans, cha hais, cups, and other gear. I figure this will give me more room on my tea tray to hold gemstones and miniatures, since I like having them right there with my tea. Of course I have to go to the wood stash in the basement and attempt to build this shelf, so I might end up needing a different solution.

Ah yes, time for another Drow Tea! It is official, from now on all purple teas are Dark Elf teas, really I would prefer to call them Shadow Elf teas, but Drows are more popular, so we will go with that. Presenting What-Cha's Yunnan Graceful Purple 'Zi Juan' Purple Varietal Green Tea! This green tea is from the lovely and very tea prolific region of Yunnan, that part you can get from the name, but what does the Zi Juan part mean? It means Graceful Purple and is the name of the varietal, though I will say that the article I linked you all to is a very interesting (to say the least) translation, but I suggest reading it for more information about the purple varietal in China. So, this tea cracks me up, because on first examination, it smells like bacon! Ok, not really, but the blend of smokiness, leather, and sauteed mushrooms oddly reminds me of bacon, this tea is all about the savory, toss in some cooked spinach and a camphorous undertone and you have a green tea that has the essence of Yunnan. I am calling it that from now on because most teas from this region have it, though this tea leans more towards the savory side, which I like!

The leaves, once brewed, become super rich and smooth, with notes that are both evocative of a seaside and a forest floor, along with some deliciously sauteed spinach and mushrooms. I really dig the seaweed notes and that finish of loam and camphor, very savory and nose tingly. The liquid, on the other hand, is delicate, with notes of smoke, sauteed mushrooms, and a finish of cooked spinach.

The first steep is very well rounded and smooth, it is very much so a full mouth sensation tea, starting off smooth on the tongue and turning to cooling as it slides down the throat. The taste is savory, there is no sweet to be found, with notes of sauteed mushrooms, very gentle smoke, a touch of seaweed, and finish of spinach. There is no camphor taste, just the cooling sensation, which is always a treat to have.

Now onto the second steep (and fair warning, I am tea sloshed, I met up with a friend and we had all told about 15 steeps of teas, and I had several steeps of a black and a green before that!) The aroma is smoky and loamy, like a forest floor with savory mushrooms, and just a tiny hint of floral. That little floral note is fun, more like the memory of a flower rather than the flower. Holy moly camphor! That is one cooling camphorous tea, I can certainly taste it this time, it is not just a sensation. Couple that with a meaty sauteed mushroom and a very green cooked spinach and you have a yummy tea...that might actually be a spy. I am pretty sure this is a green tea that is trying to infiltrate the world of Sheng Puerhs by pretending to be one.

Third steeping, the aroma is a bit mellow, blending smoky notes and a tiny hint of hay, along with gentle notes of spinach. Still pleasant, though not as robust as previously. This steep has gone back to the well rounded mouth, no more camphor explosion, just a gentle cooling sensation at the finish. The taste is spinach and mushrooms, keeping it savory and just a tiny bit meaty, though there is a very delicate sweetness at the finish. This tea is fascinating, it is like a Sheng Puerh and a particularly savory Mao Jian got together and had a very purple love child, and I am ok with that. I really enjoy green teas that have strong savory notes, I am a bit of an umami fiend, plus purple teas are just so much fun to look at!

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