Hei Zijuan (Purple Leaf)
Sheng Puer Cake 357g 2008
A traditional sheng puer made from the spring harvest of the forest grown Zijuan dark purple tea tree variety, which has fully purple leaves and stems on the young growth. The unusually colored leaves create an easy-to-drink smooth and complex flavor with mineral notes and lingering sweet finish.
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- Tea Origin
- Southwest Yunnan
- Tea Bush
- Zijuan Quntizhong (Purple Leaf Heirloom Yunnan Tea Tree)
- Tea Master
- Gong Liping and Ran Yijun
- Harvest Time
- Late April
- Picking Standard
- One bud, two leaves
Our Hei Zijuan (Purple Leaf) 2008 sheng puer cake is made from the leaves of a unique tea bush in southwest Yunnan named Zijuan. The leaves of this bush are surprisingly dark purple-red at the very beginning of spring. However, if they are not harvested while young, they will eventually turn green as they mature. Their purple color is indicative of an unusual richness in anthocyanin flavonoids, zinc, and amino acids. To retain this nutrition and produce this unique sheng puer cake, the leaves are usually harvested near the end of April when they are still tender and dark purple. This Zijuan purple tea leaf puer cake uses tender leaves harvested at the traditional one bud and two-to-three leaves puer plucking standard for fuller flavor that is very smooth and complex, with a lingering finish.
Compared to the our purple buds cake, the purple leaf sheng puer cake has a deeper body. The richness in the nutrition of the tender leaves makes for a very smooth, complex flavor with a lingering finish. Additionally, the leaves’ richness in amino acids and their older vintage combine to yield a flavor without any bitterness at all. It is an excellent tea to drink now or continue to age.
To compress puer into cakes, the tea is weighed with a scale. The traditional weight was 357 grams, but now many factories use 400 grams. A piece of cotton fabric is placed inside a special one-foot-deep tin bucket that has holes on the bottom. The weighed, dry tea leaves are placed inside the fabric, enough to almost fill the bucket. The leaves are steamed for about 3-5 seconds at first. They place a one inch square paper that is stamped with the company’s logo on top of the cake, with a few leaves covering the sign. The next person sits in front of the steamer, and after about 5 seconds they will remove the fabric and wet leaves from the bucket. The dry tea leaves are transformed from being very puffy mass to a condensed layer 3 inches thick. The next worker will quickly tie the fabric, making a knot at the end. They compress the knot into the center of the cake under a compression machine. It takes the perfect amount of pressure to push the wet tea leaves tightly into about a 1 inch thick cake. If you look on the back of a puer cake, you will see the indentation from the fabric knot.
Some producers still use the traditional way of compressing cakes. Two stone molds, that are curved to match the shape of puer cakes, are used to flatten the cakes. A person will stand on top of the mold and evenly shake their body to mold the cake into its shape. Factories that use this method will have one worker whose job is to compress these cakes in this way. This person must be a specific weight as to not over compress the cakes. The best cakes will have every leaf stuck together — the compression is not too loose, but should still be easy to remove whole chunks of tea from the cake with a little effort. The minor amounts of space left between leaves will allow air to move through and naturally ferment the cake over years.
A few hours after compression, the wet cakes are removed from the fabric and placed on wooden shelves. The cakes slowly dry for a few hours at a temperature of about 40 degrees celsius. Once the tea is dry, the cakes are sent to the packaging room. A skilled tea worker will use cotton paper to quickly wrap the cakes. They will fold the squares of cotton paper so there are exactly sixteen folds. Clean, dry bamboo shells wrap 7 cakes together at once. Bamboo string is used to tie the shells together to secure them for transportation. This is the traditional packing method that is still often used. The bamboo shell will cover the tea from rain, but will also allow the tea to breathe. Bamboo is a very neutral scent, and will separate other scents from reaching the tea.
Weight per piece: 357 grams
No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.
Hei Zijuan (Purple Leaf) 2008 brewing guidelines
How to store: Store in a dark, well ventilated area with less than 70% humidity. Less than 25 degrees C or 77 degrees F. Store in the paper or fabric, not plastic. Keep away from odors and fragrances.
How to infuse: Any cup, pot, or gaiwan made of porcelain, glass, yixing clay, iron, or other material will work.
1st infusion — Loosen and gently break off about 5 grams of tea from the brick for approx. 12 ounces water. Use boiling water to infuse for 5 minutes.
2nd infusion — Boiling water, infuse for 2 minutes
3rd infusion — Boiling water, infuse for 3 minutes
4th to 7th infusion — Boiling water, infuse for 5 minutes
Infusions: at least 7 times