With my last Yunnan sourcing order, I decided to sample teas that I’ve never tried before, to get out of my comfort zone. This time around, I got myself to try a purple tea. I’ve heard a lot of good and bad things about purple tea, so this was a shot in the dark. I did not know what to expect, so here is my review of the 2017 Autumn Band Dong Zi Cha raw Pu erh by Yunnan sourcing.
This tea comes from the Menku region in the Lincang county in northern Yunnan, and as the name suggests, it was harvested in autumn, from 80 to 200 year old naturally growing tea trees. The purples leaves occur naturally on the plant, because they are grown on a southern slope of a mountain. They do not come from a cloned purple varietal that are grown in other harvesting regions.
For this session, I used 7g of leaves for a 100 ml glazed gaiwan. I also used boiling water for each steep.
Eyes dry leaves
The dry leaves show off a dark green color, with almost a brown-ish aspect to it. There is also a light purple hue on the dry leaves, which contributes to the darkness of the leaves. There was also a good amount of silvery buds.
Smell dry leaves
In a warm gaiwan, the leaves show off a vegetal smell, which is accompanied with a stone fruit kind of vibe to it. On the initial sniff, I’ve come across a unique Mengku sweetness. I lack words to describe such a thing, but I’ve come across this smell on Mengku teas only. The leaves smell like a great raw, with a pungent edge I associate with purple teas. But still, we are far from Ye Sheng wild trees territory.
Eyes wet leaves
The leaves, once rinsed, really show that they are a purple tea. They show a green color with a light purple hue. You could easily confound this tea with a ‘’regular’’ raw Puerh if you do not pay attention.
Smell wet leaves
After a quick rinse, this is where the difference lies between this tea and a normal ‘’green’’ Pu erh. There was a pungent vegetal smell, and bell pepper note vibe to it. Yellow bell pepper to be more specific. And I have come across such notes in another purple tea I drank in the past. There was also a spicy note, which contributed to the pungency of the smell.
The tea liquor
The tea liquor was somewhere between yellow and green, but getting more yellow towards the later steepings.
- Infusion #1 was 15 seconds long. Up front, the tea is light in terms of taste, but very juicy in terms of texture. The tasting notes tend to be more on the vegetal side (Straw), which takes up almost all the place. The finish is clean and a bit flowery in flavor. It lingers in the mouth after the last sip.
- Infusion #2 was 15 seconds long. This time around, the texture was viscous, very thick. There is a slight bitterness / astringency laying around. The vegetal notes are still there, but they show off a vegetable quality to it (Courgette). The finish was very long and bittersweet, lingering for a few minutes after drinking. Very nice so far.
- Infusion #3 was 20 seconds long. On this one, the liquor is really thick, bitter and astringent (lingering dryness). But the bitterness evolves into a nice sweetness. Very rewarding. The vegetal note is still present. There was also a strong floral aroma and a spicy note (Peppercorn) on the finish. Nice complexity for a tea at this price point.
- Infusion #4 was 30 seconds long. The texture is starting to stabilise, while being a little thinner, it hung on into the later steepings of the session. Getting gradually thinner, but very slowly. It also gets juicier, less astringency. On this steep the bitterness took a nosedive, taking the backseat, and not being in front. At this point, the tea becomes a casual brew, softer yet sweeter. The vegetal notes are still hanging around. The complexity is now behind us.
This tea got me sweating and got my organs moving pretty good pretty quickly. The Qi got to me really fast, but is moderate for such a tea. The energy was good, it made me feel well. It cooled me down in a sense. This would make a great summer tea, even brewed with boiling water.
I think this tea is a unique sheng, that’s a bit different, given it’s made with purple leaves. It offers a fairly strong tasting cup with a nice depth of flavors and aromas. The first few brews are the most complest, but it can easily bust the 10 steeps mark, while offering a tasty young sheng liquor across the board. This tea could use some age. Personally, it would be a tea I buy for storing purposes, exploring it at least twice a year. Although, it would make a really good daily drinker young sheng at such a price point. I would recommend it to everyone looking for a complex, yet affordable young raw.