Steamed Purple Tea From Kangaita Factory, Mount Kenya
A short time ago, I reviewed the Fermented Purple Tea, considered more of a wulong style of tea due to partial oxidation. The Steamed Purple Tea is considered to be a green tea in terms of processing. This Steamed Purple Tea is also from the Kangaita Factory in Kirinyaga, on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya.
Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a very dark purple to black color. The leaves are rolled, with some being long and wiry, and others being in somewhat of a semi-ball shape. The leaves appear to be mostly medium to large fragments. There are very few bare stems in the mix. The stems show a two leaves and small bud pluck. The aroma is sweet (hay and light malt) and bakey, with light earthy hints.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.5 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute and thirty seconds.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, pale yellow color and a light purple tint. The color is very unique. The aroma is grassy, fresh, with light scents of red grape juice. The body is light, with a delicate, refreshing feel. The taste is very refreshing, with notes of delicate grass, light red grape juice, and mineral (wet stone). The aftertaste is lightly fruity, with a light flowery and grassy essence being left on the breathe. Given the dark appearance of the dry leaves, I was surprised by how light, grassy, and delicate this tea tasted.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly stronger purple tint than the first infusion. The aroma is fruitier, and lighter on the grass. The body remains light and refreshing. The taste has lightened on the grassy note, and the mineral note has become more potent. The grape juice undertone remains. A slight bitterness appeared, indicating that the infusion time should have been decreased by about thirty seconds on this second infusion. This tea is quite delicate to the infusion time, very similar to a green tea.
The third infusion produced a liquor similar to the second infusion. The aroma has lightened, but remains fruity and grassy. The taste has also lightened, and maintains the dominantly mineral note, and light grass and grape notes. I do not expect a fourth infusion to have much to offer.
The infused leaves have a mostly dark forest green color, with some purple leaves. All leaves are medium sized fragments. There are some stems showing the two leaves and small bud pluck. There are a few tips in the mix. The aroma reminds me of a wet forest floor with soft hints of grape juice.
This Steamed Purple Tea was an interesting contrast to the Fermented Purple Tea. One thing that was very similar in both varieties of the purple tea was the thirst quenching and refreshing quality. There is something about a clean mineral taste that I find very satisfying. This Steamed Purple Tea had a very nice balance of tastes, blending grass, grapes, and minerals. The color was intriguing, showing the presence of the anthocyanin pigmentation in purple tea, compared to the dominant chlorophyll pigmentation of the traditional green tea bushes. This tea is a great way to take a break from the typical green teas. It has the refreshing character of other steamed green teas, with a noticeable difference in taste, aroma, appearance, and body to make it unique.
I am very grateful to my source in Kenya for providing me with these purple tea samples. Cheers!