Zijuan cha – Raw Health
Purple sheng is a true pearl in the vast collection of Chinese teas. Zijuan is beautifully crafted; it has subtle taste and flavor reminiscent of fresh spring grass and mild woodiness over later steepings, and it has mighty great health benefits.
Why we like it?
Purple sheng is great for both individual daily consumption and tea ceremonies. Since zijuan doesn’t possess any particularly intrusive smells or flavors, it’s hard to get tired of. We drink zijuan for its invigorating effect and borderline magical prophylactic powers. It is the uniquely high content of anthocanin that gives purple sheng its characteristic color and healthy properties.
The tea is made of a naturally mutated varietal of Camellia that developed a mechanism to fight off unfavorable exposure to higher-than-normal UV radiation. The chemistry involved in the development of such protection has incidentally produced a mixture of phenol compounds that have very nice anti-inflammatory and blood pressure boosting effects. Raw Health purple sheng is quite handy in the early stages of a looming cold/flu, giving you a burst of antioxidants to fight off or at least mitigate the effects of the cold you sense coming.
We also recommend using zijuan during tea ceremonies. Make some of this tea, let people drink it and smell, and leave them guessing as to what kind of tea it could possibly be. Our zijuan gives a bizarrely grey-brownish tea soup, which should further help to induce a puzzling effect on your friends, clients, and tea buddies.
Roman’s personal score: 92/100
Miha’s personal score: 85/100
The scores above represent how the Daoli co-founders Miha and Roman feel about each particular tea. The ratings are given on 0 to 100 scale and are absolutely subjective. We simply translate into numbers our first impression about this tea.
Basic facts about puer
There are two kinds of puer tea: shu (ripe, cooked, heavily fermented) and sheng (raw). Shu puers undergo an extensive (several months to a year) fermentation process, whereas sheng puers are not fermented at all. Shu puers produce dark brown infusions quite similar to black tea. The color of sheng puer tea may range from lime to intense yellow – the spectrum typical of green teas, but that’s where the similarity ends. A typical sheng puer has a pronounced bittersweet flavor and a lingering mellow aftertaste called huigan (回甘) or liugan (留甘) in Chinese.
Some people are discouraged from exploring puer teas because of erroneous perceptions that all puers taste like earth or have other unpleasant qualities. This only applies to low-quality puers that were either made of bad leaves, processed in a wrong way, or stored under inappropriate conditions. Brewed properly, good quality puers may seem unusually strong to an inexperienced palate, but they should not feel disagreeable in any way.
Shu puer tea is often divided into supreme (gongting), extra, 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades. Sheng puers are sometimes classified into extra, 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th grades, but this system is far from universal. The grade of puer tea is primarily determined by the buds vs. leaves ratio, as well as the size and shape thereof. Supreme-quality shu puer (aka gongting), for instance, is supposed to be buds only with each bud averaging up to one inch in length. Extra class shu is 50-60% buds and 40-50% leaves. First grade shu puer is approximately 30% buds and 70% leaves. Third grade has leaves that are larger in size and the bud content is accidental. Fifth and seventh grades are almost entirely made up of leaves, the main difference being in size, thickness, and texture of tea material used. Shengs follow a similar pattern, but, again, standards vary significantly among manufacturers.
General steeping suggestions
Tea can be steeped in a tea pot, gaiwan, or a strainer placed right in your cup. Feel free to experiment with time, temperature, and quantity. If tea feels a bit strong or bitter, just use less leaves or steep it for a shorter period of time. The purpose of the first brew is to rinse the leaves, so it shouldn’t last more than five seconds and should be discarded. Pour the hot water again. This time, steep it for longer periods. Avoid leaving the leaves soaking in water between brews, because it makes tea taste bitter and steals a lot of its flavor. If used properly, about six grams of tea leaves can yield several middle-size cups of excellent tea. Chinese people enjoy the original taste of tea, so they never use milk, sugar, or lemon.
Steeping suggestions for Raw Health (zijuancha)
Start with this, then experiment:
- one serving: 6-10 grams
- water: ~ 70 °C, 100-250 ml (~ 170°F, 3-9oz)
- time: 30-45 seconds
- number of infusions: 8-12
- discard the first brew
Have you tried this tea? Do you have any comments? Please use the space below to share your thoughts and ask us questions.