Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bitterleaf TeasL Dragon Blood 2015 Spring Lin Cang Zi Juan Raw Purple Tea, A Tea Review

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.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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