Our tea procurer Jeff does his thing in Nan Nuo Mountain. Samplings involve seeing leaves, repeated sips, and a long infusion (3 minutes) of the leaves to sample the ultra strong infusion. This is done all over southern Yunnan for both pleasure and ultimately to see which teas which ultimately will be chosen.
We’ve found more of the quality we look for in a batch of Purple Leaf Puerh and based on our last offering which was a delight to so many we’re offering another generation of Purple Leaf Puerh. It was one of our most requested repeat teas by friends and clients alike who loved the qualities and slighty different palate range. We’re delighted to be able to offer it up (and Jeff’s case ‘sip to extreme’) once again, albeit from a different mountain source.
Our last Purple Leaf offering was an autumn 2012 harvest from Bada, while this is a Nan Nuo, which carries some of the traditional characteristics of the area: mellow, low vegetal punch but wonderful smooth power without the bitter edges.
Like the caterpillar fungus of further north, Purple Leaf tea is lauded for its health and medicinal abilities. In Yunnan and China generally medicinal herbs are integrated into a daily diet plan rather than used in isolated time periods
This particular monthly offering grows within its cousins’ forests near Bang Ma within the Nan Nuo Mountain range. The red/indigo/purplish hue of the leaves appears usually because of a reaction to high heat. Anthocyanins are pigments that lend many berries their hues. They are also flavonoids that have adapted within the tea leaves because of high temperatures in summer so while a ‘Purple Leaf’ might be harvested in Spring, they developed and began in the hot summer months.
Locals of southern Yunnan often say that Purple Leaf Puerh (Zi Ye or ‘purple leaf) is good for heart health and cholesterol and with Anthocynanins being proven antioxidants, the tea is considered – like many pure plants – as much a medicine as it is a ‘tea’. Anthocynanins also work as blood sugar metabolizers.
Jeff never does any tea business without first having a large and in some cases, immense meal. Here, he sits with a grower of tea in a tiny makeshift dining room on the first floor.
Along with all of this natural medicinal power, the tea is another classic example of a flavor that carries with it a slightly more established tannin-base than traditional ‘sheng’ (raw) green Puerhs. This is a tea with much tannin in its delivery and worth exploring with different infusion times.
Part of that meal in question….with all foods sourced from a tight radius around the home. Most of the leaves and fungus have medicinal benefits and tea is no different. The minorities of the region have many uses for foods and vegetables of the land and often use items in concert with one another to ease or soothe illnesses.
Though Anthocynanns are something more closely associated with blueberries, the principles of how they work are the same when occurring in teas. Many local Hani growers speak that the coloring is something that is like a protective ‘shell’ that the leaves develop to adapt to the sun’s power.
Many Purple Leaf tea offerings are a ‘collective’ of many gardens/forests/regions as there often aren’t enough of these Purple leaves within a given area. All of our Purple Leaf offerings come from one geographic source as it makes for a more concentrated consistency.
Along the famed Tea Horse Road many types of medicines were transported besides tea. Liniments, root vegetables, caterpillar fungus, and resin were all carted as they all had value. Salt wells, like this one above in northwestern Yunnan along the Tibetan border provided salt as it too was viewed as part medicine part luxury item.
Our Purple Leaf offering is an autumn 2014 harvest from bushes and trees over 30 years’ old, harvested and cultivated entirely by the Hani people. Locals deep within the Nan Nuo Range also have traditionally used this tea for urinary and bladder issues, though of course in the local colorful language they simply refer to it being used for their “plumbing”. While there is much discussion over the first infusion, we’re happy to suggest not worrying too much about throwing away this first infusion. It is a great infusion to take in just for the sake of trying as it is superb.
- 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 Nan Nuo Purple Leaf experience. If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.
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. There are great tannin strains to savor in this tea. Use fully boiled water.
We recommend not less than 6 grams per serving. Ideally 8 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.