50g Ube Mochi Sheng Pu'er 紫薯糯米糍生茶

Li Shulin

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Ube Mochi Sheng Pu'er (紫薯糯米糍生茶, Zǐ Shǔ Nuò Mǐ Cí Shēng Chá, "Purple Sweet Potato Glutinous Rice Cake Sheng Tea") There are purple teas, and there are sticky rice scented teas, and then there's sticky rice scented purple teas. Ube Mochi is one of these - specifically, it is a Wild Purple sheng pu'er from Nannuo Mountain that has been scented with Nuò Mǐ Xiāng 糯米香 ("Sticky Rice Fragrance"), a medicinal herb that smells like sticky rice (but is not in fact rice) in the manner of the Bái ethnic group of Yunnan. 

We ended up getting this tea because in 2023 Li Shulin sent us a sample of something we had never asked for: sticky rice-scented Purple Grace (Zǐ Juān Chá), the cloned cultivar of the pu'er plant processed as sheng. Although we already had a very full sheng pu'er catalogue that included several forms of sticky rice sheng, we were compelled to add this new sticky rice Purple Grace to our catalogue purely by virtue of it being too good not to carry. This is now known as Forbidden Rice.

Fans of West China Tea will be familiar with the progression from Zǐ Juān to Zǐ Yá-based teas. For the rest of you, I'll explain: There are two kinds of purple tea we get from Yunnan, Zǐ Juān, the cloned purple cultivar, and Zǐ Yá, the naturally-occuring purple plants. The former is more intensely purple in color, the latter is more rare (purple tea plants are much less common than green tea plants in nature) and, being seed-propagated, considered superior as far as its Qì and overall character are concerned. 

You can see this progression throughout our catalogue:

Sheng: Purple Grace -> Wild Purple

Red: Ultraviolet -> Gamma Ray

White: Purple Moonlight -> Amethyst

and now:

Forbidden Rice -> Ube Mochi

Hopefully this explanation has been enlightening and hasn't left you more confused. For a more focused explanation on how purple tea works in general, see our Tea House Ghost video on purple teas. 

We named it Ube Mochi after Ube, the beautiful purple sweet potato from the Phillipines, and mochi, a Japanese sweet dumpling made of sticky rice, not only because of its purple nature and sticky rice fragrance, but because this is one of the sweetest sheng pu'ers that we've ever tried. The notes really do resemble what I imagine an ube-flavored mochi would taste like - also, if you've ever had taro milk tea at a boba tea shop, then you'll have an idea of the character of this tea. The leaves turn a stunning array of colors when steeped, ranging from blue-purple to red, drab, and orange, belying the tea's diverse, seed-propagated origins.