2018 Zi Ya Purple Bud
The Zi Ya "Purple Bud" is a unique and distinctive pu'erh raw from one of our favorite tea craftsmen, Mr. Tang in Jinggu Yunnan.The first time we acquired the Zi Ya Purple Bud Pu’erh raw was in 2020 - we intentionally aged the cakes for one full year before drinking it in the spring of 2021. We were struck by its beautiful and plump leaves with a dark blue sheen, and also the clarity and gentleness of the tea. It has distinct elegant floral notes, and slightly smoky.Late last year, we were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to acquire five precious cakes from the 2018 vintage year from Mr. Tang himself, from his own personal collection. His aged pu’erh cakes are rarely available as they are always snatched up by pu’erh connoisseurs and collectors as soon as they are release.
I was astonished by my first experience with the 2018 vintage. The mouthfeel is amazingly silky smooth - I could have mistaken it for an old-grove oolong if I didn’t know it was a pu’erh raw. It is exceptionally sweet - with no smokiness that I had experienced from the 2020 year. On the palate, it had distinct caramel, molasses and burnt sugar notes, followed by dark chocolate. When I smelled the lid of the gaiwan that I was using to brew it, it had notes of sweet dried prune.
I have included a one-serving size of the 2020 year Zi Ya Purple Bud, for a comparison tasting of the 2018 Vintage versus the 2020. Have fun!
I was amazed at how much the Zi Ya pu’erh raw has aged in 3 years! I had always known that Mr. Tang’s pu’erhs age exceptionally well, and to expect a substantial change every three years, but the experience still blew me away.
Here is information on the Zi Ya Pu’erh Raw:
Zi ya (purple bud) is Yunnan Big Leaf varietal pu’erh trees that have significantly higher anthocyanin in the developing buds than other pu’erh trees. The development of these zi ya tea trees are closely linked to the environment - stronger sunlight and higher temperatures cause the tea leaves to have higher levels of anthocyanin.
The zi ya 紫芽（purple bud) tea trees were planted by Tang Wang 18 years ago in his tiny tea garden in Jinggu, Yunnan. The young leaves from these zi ya trees emerge purple, and then turn green as they mature. The leaves were predominantly used to make black tea in the past. In 2016, Mr. Tang made a small experimental batch of pu’erh with the leaves from the zi ya trees.
Hand picked one-bud-two-leaves are picked in the early spring and are allowed to wither naturally on bamboo mats outdoors under the gentle morning sun. The leaves are pan-fried by hand in charcoal-fired steel wok, and then rolled and air-dried naturally. The tea is crafted following the traditional 晒青 shai qing (sun wilted/dried) processing of pu’erh tea, where the tea leaves are dried naturally in the sun, instead of roasted or oven-dried.
After the mao cha 毛茶 has been made, it is aged for one month, and then steamed to be pressed into individual cakes. Finally, the tea cakes are dried naturally.
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The key to brewing this tea is to use boiling water, and very fast infusions, starting at 10 seconds.
|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||10