Zhi Ye (Purple Leaf)

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Special Autumn Edition Tea selected by Jeff Fuchs 

A young Hani woman prepares some tea in her home's tea hut. In many tea villages, each individual family will have a tea hut in which they will serve the teas that they produce for guests. Around her home within the scattered tea trees near the Meng Song-Nannuo Mountain region, the Purple Leaf species grows.



Quick Facts
The Story 
Suggested Serving


Quick Facts

  • Zhi Ye (Purple Leaf) Unfermented Puerh
  • Region: Naka region of Menghai County in Xishuangbanna Yunnan
  • Type: High Mountain Puerh (1500 meters)
  • Harvest: Autumn 2012
  • Harvesters: The Hani minority


The Story

  We’re happy to be able to offer something truly special, and as Jeff tells us “a tea that is genuinely off the grid of even Puerh tea drinkers”. Purple Leaf Unfermented Puerh is a different varietal of the big-leaf Yunnan that not only has a different coloured leaf, but also has an entirely different flavor make-up and color in the cup. Jeff has long wished to have this on a tea menu as it is a rare journey into the world of Puerhs that hasn’t made it out of Yunnan, much less China.

Hani women in full voice. Meals, get-togethers, tea, and many social occasions are wonderful excuses to share tales, and traditions. Apart from their incredible teas, the Hani are known for incredible hospitality.

  Harvested near the Naka and Meng Song areas near the capital of southern Yunnan, Jinghong, this tea is a more mild and darker colored leaf that is touted by locals for its abilities to soothe the heart and ease blood pressure. It is a wider range of less extreme peaks than our fresh green Puerh offerings.

  The fresh leaves when plucked range from a green tinged rust color to full-on burgundy and can be found growing in select forests amidst their more common cousins throughout southern Yunnan. Cultivated, produced, and consumed identically to any other Puerhs, the tea requires no special preparation tips. It is simply a Puerh with a slightly different lineage and elements that locals insist aid in ailments of the heart.

A Purple Leaf tea cake up close. The leaves have neither a black fermented tea colour nor the greens of an unfermented Puerh. Though it is produced into loose leaf form and cake and brick shapes, the Purple leaf is more rare and harder to track down.

  The dried desiccated leaves in the cake format will appear almost black because when the burgundy colored leaves are dried and fried they darken. This is in every sense of the word an unfermented Puerh harvested from tea bushes, plants, and trees that are between 30-160 years old. Purple leaf Puerh is usually found within the Hani people’s tea forests and they have a particular fondness for this less common varietal. Our own Purple Leaf selection comes from an area near Meng Song Mountain near the capital of southern Yunnan, Jinghong.

  Hani people will almost never mix the Purple Leaf clippings with other teas (as many do) preferring instead to harvest twice a year and create a very special tea.

When infused the leaves soften in both tone and colour and have the Puerh's ability to endure many many infusions.

  JalamTeas has decided to offer it to not only enlighten the mouth and mind, but also to give the tea a first run for a western audience as this tea is one of the specials. It is Jeff’s wish to not simply present teas that run a particular style but to offer as many flavors to the palate and knowledge bank as possible.

  Because of Purple Leaf’s random growth spread in amongst the ‘regular’ tea forests it is difficult to designate our tea to one particular region and altitude but we can tell you that the pickings are from the region near Meng Song (a strong potent tea that we’ve also offered as part of our subscription) and Naka (an area of extensive ancient tea tree growth). Our Purple Leaf Puerh has been picked from an area at roughly 1500 metres.

  One of the unique aspects of this tea is that it is simply referred to as ‘Purple Leaf’ as opposed to being known for the region from where it is from. An old friend and tea grower of Jeff’s first told Jeff of this tea in 2007 and suggested offering it to clients…which was a long time before Jeff ever actually had clients who were interested in buying tea. It has long been a sipping tea for Jeff.

And finally the colour of the Purple leaf: slightly darker than a green unfermented Puerh, with an apricot tone, though it still is an unfermented Puerh!

  We recommend taking the Purple Leaf when the mouth is undisturbed with other flavours so that you can feel the character of the tea swim through the mouth and over the tongue.

  You might notice that the leaves are slightly smaller than the traditional green unfermented green big leafed variety.

  As always we hope you enjoy our selection and that you have some fun with this special selection and let us know your thoughts.

- Jeff Fuchs


Suggested Serving

  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. If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.

  Use fully boiled water, as the large leaf 'Camellia Sinensis Assamica' (Puerh) can handle the heat. Fermented tea is generally far less intense in terms of stimulant effects so it acts as a great evening tea.

  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.

  • First rinse infusion (to open the leaves and stimulate the enzymes) - 15 seconds
  • First drinkable infusion - 20 seconds or more depending on taste.
  • Third to tenth infusions - we recommend increasing times by 10 seconds per infusion to wring as much of the full flavor from the leaves as possible, but again, we encourage an exploration of times and amount of leaves used.

  When the tongue ceases to enjoy an infusion's strength, that is the time to begin anew with a fresh load of leaves. Our Bada Fermented Puerh can be consumed on an empty stomach with no ill aftereffects.

  Don't be shy to ask me any questions about your tea leaves or anything related at jeff@jalamteas.com. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.