This sheng Pu-erh has dark, evenly-colored leaves – not the usual appearance of sheng Pu-erh. Upon first glance one might think it a hong cha (black tea) were it not for the clean, woodsy, sheng Pu-erh aroma. So how can this be?
This tea is made from wild arbor tea tree leaves that grow in the JingMai mountains that are dark purple in color both in fresh leaf and dried leaf form. The color is from an abundance of anthocyanin, a water soluble pigment that belongs to the flavenoid family of antioxidants. Anthocyanin gives dark blue and purple fruits and vegetables their magnificent color, and in tea, both this coloration and a hint of bitterness.
JingMai Purple Leaf Sheng Pu-erh is not a named cultivar or variety of tea tree but a local mutation that has evolved over the centuries in the vast tea tree forest of JingMai mountain. These tea trees give the fresh and dried tea leaf this dark, rich color. The taste of purple leaf tea has as much to do with the land and the forest environment as it does the uniqueness of these tea trees, and the local preference for isolating out these leaf materials for separate tea production. Local villagers in various parts of Yunnan where these tea trees are found in the forests consider the color to be a part of the medicinal effect of this tea.
The JingMai mountain area is home to many tea-harvesting villages that protect the old tea tree forests. Some of the tea trees are under the control of Dai people and others are tended by the Bulang. The leaf for this tea was plucked before April 5th (Pre-Qing Ming 1st spring harvesting period) when the leaf was small and flush with an abundance of purple color.
This fantastic sheng Pu-erh has a lush, herbaceous, and complex aroma. We detected notes of Mediterranean herbs, such as rosemary and marjoram and a little menthol (dry mint) and celery seed. In the cup the color is pale amber.
We have recently purchased an assortment of loose-leaf sheng Pu-er from various production areas because we think that these teas should become more well known and more available to tea enthusiasts. Sheng Pu-erh offers the opportunity to really taste the essence of the tea trees and the place (terroir) without processing technique getting in the way and modifying the taste of the leaf.
This tea has a rich and creamy taste and a very different sheng Pu-erh taste experience from our other recent loose-leaf sheng additions. It is also a different taste from that of our Yunnan Old-Style Purple Varietal Leaf Tea hong cha which is also made from a purple varietal cultivar.
Sheng Pu-erh has many tastes whose characteristics are derived from the location of the tea forest (terroir), the age of the tea trees, etc. Essentially loose-leaf sheng Pu-erh has a sweet, woodsy; forest-floor flavor and mild aroma. It is perfectly lovely to drink this tea now or you can put some aside to age and strengthen over time. But over steeping can turn this tea into a pithy and bitter beverage.
The Ancient Tea Forests of the JingMai area has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site for its biodiversity and value to the culture of the people who live there, the history of tea production and the place JingMai has in the tea history of China.
Click here to read more about JingMai.
Prefer JingMai black tea? Please see our Yunnan JingMai Wild Arbor black tea
Sheng Pu-erh is also known as ‘un-cooked’ or ‘raw’ Pu-erh. Very simply, it is the non-fermented version of Pu-erh.
Sheng Pu-erh is non-fermented when young but microbial activity on the leaf will allow the tea to slowly ferment over time when the tea is kept under good storage conditions. Sheng Pu-erh can be drunk now or stored for years to encourage that slow microbial transformation of the tea into something rich and full. Similar to young French wines that will, over time, transform into much more substantial wines, sheng Pu-erh is prized by collectors and tea enthusiasts for this ability to age and improve over time.
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