If I ever press an Yiwu purple puer tea, I will have an extraordinarily difficult time naming it. I won’t bore you with the hundreds of suitable names I have come up with in my free time, but atop my list are “Purple drank“, “Grimace’s delight”, and “Screwed up and chopped“. (or maybe just Lean?… have I lost everyone yet? I am trying to win the award for most 1990’s Houston hip hop references for a tea blog entry this year)
Scott, from Yunnan Sourcing, has gone with a much more direct approach, and named this “Yi Wu Purple Tea”. I actually appreciate his directness, especially considering he could have named it something like Purple Dragon Twilight Emperor’s Blend.
A Quick Bit of Background
Before I jump into this tea blog review. A small discourse evolved around this tea on the popular forum teachat. You can view the thread here. Quick Summary, another puer drinker (Debunix, whose blog can be found here) and I had some differing opinions on this tea. Nothing wrong with differing opinions, and I quite liked the comparison Debunix made between the 2012 Dehong Purple and the Yiwu Purple, which I drank around the same time as the Yiwu purple, but have yet to finish the tea blog post for. I only regret that I had already finished off my sample by the time the discussion occurred, so I never had the chance to drink them side by side like Debunix did, which would have made for a more interesting tea blog comparison.
Back to Tea Blog Tomfoolery
The leaves are attractive and my poor photograph does not capture the depth of the plum purple hue. The sample I had was loosely packed with plenty of large leaves. The smell was light and sweet, and matched the color – if smells can match colors.
If you read the thread above, you know where this is going. One way ticket to Sourtown. Here are some notes I jotted down in my log whilst drinking:
Steep 1: Astringent on the tip of the tongue, some non-distinct Yiwu sugar
Steep 2: Sourness, slight kuwei [bitterness], astringent, a little white sugar on the back end, the cup smells like butter
Steep 3: The gaiwan smells like 7-grain bread, golden colored soup, more sour
(blah blah blah)
Steep 5: Not much going on, sour on the front end, some soft yiwu huigan [sweetness in the mouth after drinking]
(further blah blah blah)
Steep 7: Acerbic the whole way through
When I wrote acerbic, I was thinking of a specific flavor. A lemon wedge that has been left in an exposed glass of water overnight. The reason I know this flavor so well, is due to a personal habit of leaving lemon wedge stuffed water glasses out overnight and drinking them the day after. It is an acquired taste… acquired by being too lazy to throw out old water.
I also made an interesting note, that I was having more fun smelling the cups than drinking the tea, mainly due to the sourness. But, also due to the lovely evolving fragrances the tea was leaving behind in the gongbei [communal cup] after each steep.
Aesthetically, the leaves look healthy, robust. Lots of plump stems and big tea leaves.
Since there was such a difference in what Debunix and myself experienced, I thought I would make a shortlist of possible reasons for the discrepancy:
- got a bad chunk of cake
- stray lemon rind got pressed got discarded into the maocha
- I steeped twice as much tea as Debunix (as you can see from the pictures, I loaded the gaiwan with gluttony*)
- mistakenly used vinegar to brew tea in lieu of water
- just wasn’t my bag (see: some people like apples, some like oranges)
- top level tea blog conspiracy
*I normally steep on the gluttonous (see: American) side of things, and have rarely experienced sour flavor like this, but I am still not ruling it out as a possible reason. If nothing else, it is a variable in our experiment
Whatever the reason, I can not say this was the most enjoyable tea session I have ever had – but it was also not that bad. I want to get another sample, just so i can give the Yiwu purple another go around on the tea blog. That being said, if I was to order a young tea from Yunnan Sourcing tomorrow, I would decidedly prefer the Wu Liang Shan 2012 over the Yiwu Purple.