While still Camellia sinensis, purple tea is a new varietal that is propagated by grafting and cutting as opposed to seeding. This particular varietal is known as TRFK 306/1 and is rich in anthocyanin (a flavonoid), which pigments the leaves a purplish color. Purple tea was primarily developed for tea health products and is rich in antioxidants. Malvidin, Pelargonidin and Delphinidin are prominent in purple tea. The purple species has been in development for 25 years in Kenya and is more resistant to frost, disease, drought, and pests. This is the most versatile of the purple teas. When experimenting with different temperatures and times it can take on qualities similar to a green, oolong or black tea and can range from very mellow vegetal notes to astringent red wine-like qualities.
Leaf Type: Purple
Where to Purchase: Butiki Teas has closed
Suggested Brewing Tips:
Serving Size: ½ teaspoon per 8oz serving
Water Temp: 160, 180, or 212°F
Steep Time: 3 - 5 minutes
Last month I heard that one of my favorite tea companies was closing up shop, so before they do I wanted to share one of their more unique teas with you. It's a purple tea, something that has been in development for a number of years, but is fairly new to the market. Not many tea retailers have added it to their lineup yet, which is a shame because it truly is an extraordinary tea.
At first glance Purple Tea of Kenya looks like a black tea, but the flavor profile takes on the characteristics of green, oolong, or black tea depending on the temperature you decide to steep it at. When steeped at 160°F it has a vegetal, almost hay-like flavor reminiscent of green tea. As you raise the temperature up to 180°F a light floral flavor begins to develop and the tea more closely resembles an oolong. At 212°F the flavor profile edges more towards black, with a combination of both fruity and toasted notes. I also find that even if I steep this tea at 212°F it takes on oolong and green characteristics as the tea cools, something that is very unique to this tea.
I have found that I tend to prefer this tea steeped around 175°F, which is the lowest setting on my hot water pot. At this temperature the tea turns an interesting shade of greenish-purple, which really caught me off-guard the first time I saw it. In addition to the interesting color I find that the flavor is a cross between green and oolong, somewhat vegetal with light floral notes. I'm constantly impressed with just how flexible this tea is. No matter what temperature I decide to steep it at I find it produces an excellent cup of tea. Because of this flexibility it is now my number one choice when I pack tea to take on the road with me. I never know what temperature water I'll have access to, but with this tea I'm guaranteed to always have a tasty pot of tea in the end. I can't say that about most teas, they do tend to be picky when it comes to water temperature.
My Rating: 85/100
Would I order this again? Yes! If you're interested in trying this tea make sure you order it soon. Once Butiki Teas runs out of stock you may not have another opportunity to try it out.