Purple Moonlight (紫娟月光白茶, Zǐ Juān Yuè Guāng Bái Chá, "Purple Grace Moonlight White") - In 2018 we asked Nannuo mountain tea farmer Li Shulin to make Moonlight White - the sun-dried Yunnanese white tea known for its large buds and leaves - out of the Zǐ Juān 紫娟 (“Purple Grace”) cultivar. Zǐ Juān Chá was bred from the naturally-occurring purple tea plants of Nannuo mountain, Zǐ Yá 紫芽 ("Purple Bud"), known as eventually yielding a particularly purple plant high in the blue/purple pigments anthocyanins that give the naturally-occurring mutant Zǐ Yá its distinctive hue. While the naturally-occuring Zǐ Yá leaves have a heterogeneous appearance, generally darker than normal “green” Sheng Pu'er, the Zǐ Juān leaves, bred for their pigment concentration, have a uniform blue-green color and yield a beautiful and remarkable liquor ranging from purple to pink when processed into Sheng Pu'er (Purple Grace). We wanted to see what would happen if it were sun dried - allowing the plant pigments to remain unaltered by the cooking process, Shā Qīng 殺青 ("Kill the Green"), applied to Sheng Pu'er. When we visited in 2019, Li had a surprise for us - he had produced batches of Moonlight White using both Zǐ Juān 紫娟 (“Purple Grace”) cultivar and Zǐ Yá 紫芽 ("Purple Bud") seed-propagated plants. We call the Zǐ Juān Moonlight White “Purple Moonlight”, and as is the case with Sheng Pu'er, it produces a more noticeably purple brew than its mutant ancestors, tending more towards a pale pink than the gemstone purple of Sheng Pu'er. Its flavor is soft and has the sweet tang associated with purpleness in all its forms. The fragrance carries distant notes of cranberry skin on the exhale, while the leaves have a rich floral-honey profile.
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Refreshing notes of peach, plum and honey along with an excellent price point make this the perfect everyday tea. Wish I'd gotten the big bag!