Zi Ya Purple Bud Wild Sheng Pu-erh (紫芽普洱生茶) is a sheng (raw) pu-erh from the Jing Mai mountain area located in Lancang Lahu Autonomous County of Yunnan Province. Grown at high altitude, this tea has a lovely complex profile with almost no astringency. This tea was picked in late March to early April 2016 from young tender leaves. While this pu-erh has not really been aged for that long, it already possesses a good flavour that will only improve with further ageing.
Pu-erh tea undergoes a unique production process, during which the tea leaves are dried and rolled after which they undergo secondary microbial fermentation and oxidation. This unique processing sets it apart from black tea and means that pu-erh fits within the separate dark teas category. The tea is most commonly pressed into various shapes (domes, disks, bricks, etc) or, just like this tea, it can be left loose and the gradual fermentation and maturation process continues further, during storage. As this is a sheng pu-erh, the ageing process has been happening slowly and naturally since spring 2016. This type of tea improves with age if they are stored properly.
This type of purple tea is made from a ‘Zi Ya’ Purple Bud (紫芽), also known as ‘Zi Cha’ Purple Tea (紫茶) varietal. It is a naturally occurring mutated purple leaf version of Camellia sinensis var. assamica and accounts for only about 1-2% of cultivated assamica tea plants in Yunnan Province. These tea plants have purple coloured tea buds and young tea leaves, which are the result of unfavourable growing conditions and act as a natural way of protecting the tender leaves from harsh ultraviolet rays. This purple leaf varietal is highly prized in Yunnan and is used mostly for pu-erh production with some very limited black tea (like our Dian Hong Jing Mai Purple Needle) production as well.
The trees that this tea comes from are wild arbor trees, which means that they are older trees that largely grow on their own. Unlike plantation bushes, which are trimmed back, these trees are allowed to grow to full height of up to five meters or more. Plucking these trees is more laborious and can only be done by hand. But this traditional way of growing the trees results in much finer flavours.
Even though this Zi Ya Purple Bud Wild Sheng Pu-erh has not been aged for that long, it already exhibits some of the finer qualities found in teas made from a Zi Ya varietal, especially the greatly reduced bitterness that you may find in other Purple Leaf (Ye Sheng) pu-erh. The large twisted dark green leaves have a slightly fruity and woody aroma. The liquor produced has a light golden colour and a brisk and smooth character. The complex profile has a fruity, woody and slightly smoky flavour. The aftertaste is a little tart with a pleasantly sweet finish and minimal astringency.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste. It should be brewed around 3+ times depending on your taste preferences.