Yunnan Purple Bamboo Black tea

Yunnan Purple Bamboo Black


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Black Tea




Yunnan Purple Bamboo Black


Appearance: sturdy black tea leaf with a slight twist to the leaf;
Manufacture: traditional dian hong manufacture; ball-rolled into uniform pellets
Oxidation: fully-oxidized


Flavor: mellow Yunnan dian hong flavor, dry and complex, with aging potential
Aroma: soft, warm, enticing aromatics
Liquor: deep, golden amber-colored liquor


Yunnan Province, China

2020 Spring Pluck
(April to early-May)


China Spring Tea:


Some early harvest Chinese spring green and black teas are sold by seasonal designations indicating the time in the spring that the tea was harvested and manufactured. The earlier the tea is plucked the smaller the yield of this tea will be for the year (and the more expensive the tea will be.)


Early spring plucked teas:


Pre-Qing Ming tea: 1st Spring Harvesting Season from end of March to before April 5th
An exception to this dating are the spring teas from Yunnan which, because of the warm, semi-tropical weather in that region in spring, can be harvested as early as the end of February.

Pre-Qing Ming teas are the first teas plucked each new spring season. Depending on the location and altitude in each tea-producing region, leaf plucking can begin as early as the middle week of March and continue until April 5th.

Pre-Qing Ming teas command the highest prices because the demand for these teas outpaces the supply each year. This is especially true for the Famous Teas such as Long Ding and Longjing, and certain black teas such as Jin Jin Mai, some Keemuns and Yunnans. The buying fever for these teas is high in China as well as in the West


Yu Qian (Before the Rain) tea: 2nd Spring Harvesting Season from April 5th to April 20thte spring plucked teas:


Gu Yu tea: 3rd Spring Harvesting Season from April 21st to May 6th
Li Xia tea: 4th Spring Harvesting Season from May 7th until May 21st

Autumnal Pluck:  In some locations, in some years, certain sub-varieties of tea bushes will produce an autumn flush, which will usually be quite concentrated in flavor, as it reflects the growth and maturity that the plants have experienced during that year’s growing season. Several locations that are noted for their Autumnal Flush of black tea are Yunnan Province, China; Darjeeling, India; Nilgiri, India; and for oolong Fujian Province, China; and Taiwan.

Use 1 Tablespoon (2-3 grams) per 6 oz water
Steep 1infusion at 3 – 5 minutes
Water temperature should be 190°F-200°F

This leaf may be steeped again for 5 mins and possibly a third time (or more)

Is Yunnan black tea dian hong or hong cha?

Terminology for Chinese teas can be confusing. For example, in China hong cha is the term for ‘red’ tea –  what we in the West call black tea. It can be used to describe any tea from any of the black tea producing regions of China. For example: one might refer to a Fujian Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong as a northern Fujian hong cha or a Keemun black tea from Anhui Province as an Anhui hong cha.

Conversely, hong cha teas of Yunnan Province are called dian hong instead. Dian is an old historical name for parts of today’s Yunnan Province, so dian hong is still how Yunnan black tea are referred to. Some say that dian hong should just refer to the modern-style plantation style teas and not the forest teas made from indigenous varieties of old tea bush varietals.
We, on the other hand, generally use the term dian hong to mean the opposite. Yunnan has such a long history of producing both Pu-erh and dian hong that we think dian hong should be reserved for tea in the historical since –  the traditional, small village teas made from forest gathered leaf materials.

On rested and aged Yunnan Dian Hong:

New harvest seasonal Yunnan black teas are delicious – but rested or aged versions of these teas can be twice as rewarding! Tea Trekker’s Yunnan black teas are plucked in various types of tea gardens – older plantation gardens and forested arbor bushes and trees (wild to semi-wild plants). Not all black tea ages well, but we find that hand-crafted teas from both Yunnan Province and regions of Eastern China keep and age wonderfully.

The bushes and trees that are plucked to make out Yunnan teas represent different generations of plants and are comprised of many unique cultivars found growing throughout the heavily forested mountain tea growing regions of Yunnan. These varietals and cultivars are broad-leafed varieties – known collectively as dayeh – that produce large, long leaves that reflect the richness of their forested habitat and the plants close genetic connection to the wild tea trees of Assam India – Camelis assamica. This habitat and size is one of the reasons why Yunnan black teas are so rich and full in the mouth.

Tea such as this offers the luxury of time as they will store well and maintain and develop flavor complexity for several years.  We love Yunnan dian hong and prefer to drink them when they have mellowed a bit – one or two years after manufacture. In most cases, the teas can be kept for much longer.

The key to ageing these teas is proper storage (cool and reasonable airtight – a ceramic jar is ideal) which will serve to underscore and preserve the inherent concentration of flavor elements that premium Yunnan leaf has in abundance.

Purple Bamboo Black is a uniquely special dian hong from Yunnan Province, the mountainous region of the Mekong River Valley that defines the western border of China. This stunningly beautiful and rugged region supports old-growth tea forest areas and is famous for Pu-erh and the ethnic minorities that populate its villages. When exploring there, one has the sense more of being in southeast Asia than China, as the number of Han Chinese living there is quite small.

This dian hong has plenty of buds and is technically a mao feng pluck (a bud and two leaves). Purple Bamboo Black tea is made from ‘old tea tree’ leaf materials – evidenced in the impressive and beautiful size of the tea leaves.  This is only realized after the leaf is re-hydrated and they can extend to their ‘on-the-bush’ size and shape. This is because Purple Bamboo Black tea is a rolled & shaped tea in the style of a bi lo chun (snail), but it is among the largest examples of this laborious, hand-rolled shaping.

The flavor of Purple Bamboo Black is rich, creamy, well-balanced and satisfying. It is a quintessential ‘dry’ tea that straddles the flavor border between the dark oolongs and western China black teas. The flavor is extremely ‘clean’ and refreshing. The flavor does not linger on the palate until the third steeping or later, and by then it has a clean, polished sense of itself and so is welcome to linger. While still a young tea, Purple Bamboo Black offers a medley of woodsy, mossy, and dutch-process cocoa flavors. Purple Bamboo Black is a perfect bridge from a light Pu-erh to a soft Yunnan dian hong. It shows elements of both, but is its own distinct leaf material and is not fermented, just dry and earthy. There will be mellowing and deepening of its flavor during the leaf’s inevitable resting and ageing process, which is great news for drinking this leaf for the next half-to-full decade.

The aroma of the leaf is soft and has the fresh, woodsy aroma of a quick shower or heavy dew on fully-leafed trees in dense mountains. We love Yunnan black teas, especially teas from this area. With minimal ‘resting’ under its belt at this time, this dian hong has yet to develop the cascade of buttery, caramel flavor notes that it will in time. It is still ‘dry’, especially in the finish, with just a hint of raisins, toast, and mild cacao showing at this still-youthful stage of its development, there is much to look forward to with this leaf. Buy as much as you can and put it in a safe, stable environment and you will have a special tea for many years.

We know that it is just fine with a little milk, and combines well with sweetener too.

But for truest flavor, drink it as the locals in Yunnan do – plain. It is smooth (no negative astringency) and really quite full and rich in mouth-feel. It is most delicious and enjoyable in the cup now or do as we have done, and set some aside for further resting and improvement.