Zijuan Hong (Purple Leaf Yunnan Black)

Black Tea 2021

A particularly light-bodied black tea that possesses the depth typical of Yunnan black teas yet a delicate delivery. The leaves of rare purple tea trees lend it a sophisticated smoothness. Made exclusively with young spring pluckings from rare forest-grown Zijuan tea plants with purple leaves.

Clear selection

Tea Origin
Jinggu County, Pu'er City, Yunnan Province, China

Tea Bush
Zijuan Quntizhong (Purple Leaf Heirloom Yunnan Tea Tree)

Tea Master
Gong Liping and Ran Yijun

Harvest Time
April

Picking Standard
One bud, two leaves

A particularly light-bodied black tea that possesses the depth typical of Yunnan black teas yet a delicate delivery. The leaves of rare Zijuan variety purple tea trees lend it a sophisticated smoothness. When made into a black tea, these purple leaves deliver a dewy and dulcet infusion with powdery violet aromas. The overall effect stands apart from other Yunnan black tea, its fragrance more reminiscent of high-altitude black teas from Sri Lanka or Kenya.

This tea is made exclusively with young spring pluckings from these forest-grown purple tea trees. Purple leaves are rich in anthocyanins and other nutrients. The highland rainforests of Jinggu County have the most purple trees of any region in Yunnan Province. This is a relatively new high-end black tea, originally made at the request of Taiwanese tea merchants.

Close-up of fresh Zijuan purple tea leaf pluckings from Jinggu in Yunnan Province. 2021.
Fresh purple Zijuan tea leaves from Yunnan.

Purple leaf teas are rich in nutrients, especially the anthocyanin flavonoids which cause the purple-red color. 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 coloration. The unusual color is darkest when young, fading to a more usual green as they mature. We carry several types of tea made from this purple tea cultivar, including sheng puer Zijuan Chuncha (Purple Spring Tea) and shu puer Zijuan Gongting (Purple Leaf Palace Puer).

History of purple tea

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 Zijuan 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 this tea is the original forest tea variety named Zijuan. One of the rarest varieties of tea plant, it 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 Zi Juan cultivar are noticeably darker in color even when fully mature. These second-generation plants are typically reserved for making green tea.

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 Hong (Purple Leaf Yunnan Black) brewing guidelines

5 grams (1.5 Tb) tea

12 oz 100°C (212ºF) water

4 min. first infusion

At least 4 infusions: 4, 4, 5, 8 minutes