Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Yunnan Sourcing: Purple Prose, an Adventure with Purple Tea!

Purple is one of my favorite colors, and purple teas are one of my favorite categories of tea. Well, category of tea is not entirely correct, since you can make purple tea into anything (I tend to drink it mostly as a black) it is a genetic mutation where the plant produces more anthocyanin (the same thing that makes blueberries and eggplants their dark blue and purple color) and growers like to use this natural mutation to their advantage. Tea growing regions all over the world have purple teas, Africa and Japan being well known, but my absolute favorites come from Yunnan, a few of which I am looking at today.

Yunnan "Purple Beauty" Green Tea from Lancang Spring 2016

Clever people will notice the link I used goes to 2017, my stash is from 2016 but if you still want to try it there is the more recent harvest. The aroma of these very dark leaves (seriously, you cannot tell this is a green by looks alone) is tangy, with notes of berries and a touch of smokiness and hay with a slight floral undertone. The tea is visibly purple once steeped, not like super vibrant, but a nice lilac which is a hilarious color for tea to be. The taste is fascinating, I admit it is not my favorite ever tea, but I like pulling it out when I am in the mood for something quirky. First off, that mouthfeel, it is super thick and also sour allowing for a fun salivary reaction! There are notes of berries, hay, smoke, citrus, toasted soybeans, and a crazy blend of savory and floral at the finish that is a bit mind boggling. Usually you expect floral teas to be very sweet or possibly green, not this one, no this is like a full blast of umami with flowers. If you want a tea that is weird and not really like anything else then this is a good pick.

Purple Wild Buds Black Tea from Dehong Spring 2016

So, sadly there is not a listing for this anywhere on YS, so that makes me sad, hopefully there will be more this coming spring because this tea is fun! It looks like dried Chinese Magnolia petals and honestly kinda smells like them too, it is intensely aromatic, very strong notes of flowers, peaches, camphor, honey, and plums all waft out of the buds and I could happily spend hours sniffing this tea. Once steeped, the color of the tea doesn't look like a black tea, having a pale gold colored liquid, heck it doesn't taste like a black tea either! If you handed me this tea blind and told me to name it after tasting, I would probably say it is a heavy oxidized Oolong, because that is what it is closest to. This is such a unique black tea, such strong notes of Chinese Magnolia, peaches, plums, and camphor gives you an immensely sweet and juicy tea with a cooling finish and a very long lasting floral incense like aftertaste. It is one of my favorite teas and I only pull it out on special occasions because it is a tea that demands full attention.

Light Roast Wild Tree Purple Varietal Black Tea of Dehong Spring 2016

Ha! I can actually use the link for the tea I am writing about this time! Also thank you everyone for tolerating my same teaware, moving is hard and this is the only gaiwan I have not packed up. And woo, this tea is aromatic, purple blacks tend to be massive bursts of smells when you open the package, I am honestly always expecting to have my hair comically blown back by the aroma wave. This tea smells of muscadines, dried cherries, camphor, chocolate, and lemon peel. There is a lot going on in the aroma of this tea. Wow is this tea sweet, like sugarcane and muscadine grapes, slightly sour cherries and lemon with chocolate and honey. It has an immensely juicy mouthfeel that switches to a very warming qi, and long lingering relaxing feeling. This is a tea I like to drink in the evening because it tends to make me want to take a nap.

Yunnan Purple Beauty Black Tea of Simao Spring 2014

I love black tea with a little age on it, it seems any unwanted sharp or overly woody notes tend to fade over a few years and leaves you with a mellow and rich tea. The same can be said with this purple black too! Of the purple blacks I looked at, this is the most recognizably black tea, with notes of malt, dried cherries, toasted cumin, and molasses. The tangy fruity notes are really the only thing that makes this smell other than a bog standard Simao black. The mouthfeel is rather different than the others, instead of being juicy, this is more on the dry side, reminding me a bit of the mouthfeel of a wine. You can definitely feel and taste the tannins on this one, it is rich and honestly the mouthfeel isn't the only wine like quality, the taste reminds me of a merlot (I am not a wine person, just FYI) with notes of dark grapes, distant spice, molasses, cherries, and a finish of malty cocoa. Purple teas are great, they take familiar tastes that you find in the category they are made in and add a new level to them, like if you want your black teas to be fruitier just get a purple!

These teas were purchased by me.

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