Zijuan Chuncha (Purple Spring Tea)

Loose Leaf Sheng Puer 2019

A pale purple infusion resulting from high levels of anthocyanin flavonoids and other nutrients found in the unique Zijuan dark purple variety of forest grown tea. Deep and lingering full flavor with a soft clean finish and unusual strong floral aroma.

Clear selection

Tea Origin
Jinggu County, Yunnan Province, China

Tea Bush
Zijuan (Purple Leaf Yunnan Tea Tree)

Tea Master
Gong Ping

Harvest Time
Mid-March

Picking Standard
One bud, one leaf

This visually striking sheng puer tea is made using the purple-colored young buds and leaves of old growth tea trees. The atypical coloration indicates particularly high nutrient levels of anthocyanin flavonoids and amino acids. The pale purple-tinted infusion has a unique rich floral aroma and a deep lingering flavor that is clean and sweet, with mild astringency compared to other sheng puers.

Purple tea’s color is, of course, its most distinctive characteristic. While the fresh leaves are a rich purple-red, the dried leaves appear black, and they reveal elegant gradients of stunning deep blue-green when rehydrated during brewing. People in Yunnan tea-growing regions sometimes call it “three-color” tea because of this rainbow transformation. The purple color of the fresh leaf even translates into the infusion of the tea itself. Instead of a light green or yellow, Zijuan Chuncha brews to a delicate yet lively purple-tinted brown. If you allow tea to dry in the bottom of your cup, the purple color will become more apparent.

Tea production

Up close view of the dark purple leaves growing on top of a Zi Juan tea plant.
The dark purple-red leaves and stems of the original Zi Juan variety tea plant.

A tea plant that exhibits purple-colored new growth will always produce purple leaves every year. However, only the youngest leaves will display the distinctive purple coloration. The unusual color is darkest when young, fading to a more usual green as they mature. As Zijuan Chuncha is harvested in the early spring when the new growth has only opened one leaf from the bud, the color is still quite intense. Zijuan Chuncha is processed into sheng puer maocha immediately after harvesting. Instead of being taken for further processing and compressed into sheng puer cakes, it is allowed to retain its delicate original loose leaf shape. When dry, purple leaves turn very dark, almost black, instead of green.

History of purple tea in Jinggu

Zijuan Chuncha (Purple Spring Tea) comes from Jinggu County, a region famous for producing puer tea. Jinggu is is home to more purple leaf tea bushes than any other region in Yunnan. Purple leaf bushes are difficult to find and require many different conditions of soil and environment to grow. However, Jinggu now has more purple leaf tea plants than other regions. In the 1960’s, the Chinese government purposefully propagated seeds from tea trees that produced purple leaves. Since tea plants grown from seed are all genetically different, some of those seeds gave rise to new purple-flushing tea plants, while others were the usual green color. The leaves for Zijuan Chuncha come from both these now 50-60 year old propagated trees and from the original older purple trees still living in Jinggu.

A row of purple Zi Juan tea bushes in front of a row of regular green tea plants, showing the drastic difference in color.
Even the more mature leaves of the second-generation Zi Juan cultivar, which are not as purple as the young buds, are much darker in color than tea plants that are the more usual green.

The specific tea plant used to make Zijuan Chuncha is the original variety named Zijuan. One of the rarest varieties of tea plant, Zijuan is well known for its intense reddish-purple color that saturates the first several young leaves of new growth and even the stem they grow on. While there are many varieties of purple tea plant, Zijuan is one of the darkest. Some of our other teas like Hei Tiao Zi (Black Stripe) are made from a lighter variety which has purple leaves yet green stems. Since the 1980s, tea scientists from the Tea Research Institute at the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences have developed a super-dark purple tea cultivar from the original Zijuan trees. The leaves of this second-generation Zijuan cultivar are noticeably darker in color even when fully mature. Second-generation Zijuan plants are typically reserved for making green tea. You can learn more about purple tea varieties on our tea blog.

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.

Zijuan Chuncha (Purple Spring Tea) 2019 brewing guidelines

Teaware: 12 oz. glass, porcelain or yi xing clay pot
Amount: 1.5 Tbs of tea leaves
Water: 212°F (boiling) filtered water
Infusion: First infusion at least 2 minutes. The leaves are good for 6 infusions.