For many in Asia, no day begins, no conservation starts and no sun rises without a cup of tea…in whatever form is preferred. For those in the Himalayas it is either black potent cups, butter churned pungency, or a sweet tea with spice.
A special seasonal offering that Jeff dug up on one of his journeys into Xishuangbanna, these 200-gram Purple Leaf Puerh cakes are a rare Autumn 2012 find.
Though still ‘raw’ or ‘sheng’ the tea has settled in its three and a bit years of age, the tea still offers an exploration and departure from most established Puerh flavor palates. Mellow and lacking bitterness the tea still carries a distinctive Puerh hint. From the Nannuo Mountain area, this Purple draws its dark hue from the development of Anthocyanins, which occur in regular Puerh leaves in response to direct and intense heat from the sun. It is a pigment that lend both colour and ever-so-slightly different flavor profile to the leaves.
All Puerhs, regardless of its colour designation goes through the same basic steps. This rolling is done post frying to both further eliminate moisture and form the leaves so that they are in a slightly curled or modified shape.
During hot summers there’s typically increased amounts of the Purple Leaf tea that are harvested and often because of the nature of the Puerh markets the teas simply sit unsold. Jeff is a huge fan of Purple Leaf teas generally and these cakes were all that was left of a Pruple Leaf from near the village of Zhu Ling. Like with any Puerh, this Purple Leaf offering ‘ages’ or develops with time becoming flatter and less astringent.
In Leh Ladakh, in the Indian Himalaya tea caravans would enter into markets and be counted nearby where this photo was taken. Tea is still a constant and necessity even now as coffee culture comes.
This is an exquisite tea for immediate drinking and one that is rare in both amounts produced and in this particular season harvest. Purple Leaf harvests are generally better consumed as newer harvests. This is an example of a flavor profile that is that’s tannin edges have been rounded off and softened.
Caravans were vital in getting tea onto the Tibetan Plateau before the mid 1950’s and still to this day are sometimes needed to get to the most remote communities.
A rare offering for those seeking a little treat of a departure on the Puerh journey, with another little departure from our normal cake size, with its 200 gram cake sizing.
The inside of one of the tents along a trade route as the morning ritual of tea preparation takes place. Karma and Kaku are fixtures in Jeff’s treks to revisit how wool, salt and tea made their way through the Himalayas.
We hope you dig in, prepare a serving and enjoy the Purple.
- Jeff Fuchs
While we encourage each drinker to tinker with infusion times and amounts of tea used according to taste, the below is a good base from which to begin the JalamTeas Purple Leaf tea experience.
Do not be afraid to make a stronger brew than you might be accustomed to. The tea will darken quickly with the infusions but it is worth trying this tea ‘strong’…so says Jeff as it has aged but softened. There are great tannin strains to savor in this tea. Use fully boiled water.
If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.
We recommend not less than 6 grams per serving; ideally 8-10 grams. Locals in southern Yunnan will use as much as 12 grams and wring out more than a dozen infusions, keeping the infusion times relatively short.
It is a great tea that doesn’t need a first rinse…we encourage using every single rinse for one thing and one thing only: sipping
When the tongue ceases to enjoy an infusion's strength, that is the time to begin anew with a fresh load of leaves.
Don't be shy to ask me any questions about your tea leaves or anything related at [email protected]. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.