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Recent Tasting Notes
I picked this tea tonight because I am feeling sentimental this Christmas Eve. My husband has been sick for several days, mostly tired and achey and a bit of a sore throat with some upper respiratory issues. We hardly ever have chai and almost never have lattes, but I made him one a few weeks ago and he liked it, so I thought it would be a nice treat tonight.
The reason this is so special is because it is from the last samples ever sent to me by our Steepster friend, K S, before he passed on. You see, he could read between the lines and when he sent me a “you okay?” message, he didn’t believe my “I’m fine!” (I wasn’t.) So he mailed me some tea and an encouraging note.
I wanted it to be extra rich and comforting, so I heated some milk on the stove with a bit of sugar and put in the whole sample pouch of tea and spices. I know true chai is usually half milk and half water, but I am going for Christmas Eve level comfort here!
I strained it into mugs and we drank it while we listened to an old radio broadcast of It’s A Wonderful Life. It was very good, and I see more chai lattes in our future this winter, especially when we have cold spells, something we don’t see an awful lot.
I checked to make sure this company was still in business before posting. They are, and this tea is available on amazon. I like the Justea business model, providing sustainable jobs in Kenya. I hope they do well.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
I bought this at the SF Int’ Tea Festival because I’ve heard of Kenyan tea but not have had a chance to sample. I tried their jasmine flavored version and thought it was good. A friend tried the chocolate or mint and also found it tasty. However, I really just wanted to try JUST the Kenyan purple tea without any flavors. I had to ask them if I could taste JUST the purple tea without any flavoring, but they didn’t have it brewed, so I bought this untasted.
The tea leaves are small and have a purple tinge to them.
The dry leaves smell faintly of plum.
The warm (not wet) leaves smell more of plum and a light roast.
I brewed this in two different ways.
TL;DR — Western Style: Hardly any flavor
GongFu style — MUCH too bitter, even at a low temp/short steep times.
I brewed this per their recommendation on the bag: Western Style 1tsp (3g) for 1cup water @ 175F for 3 minutes. (NOTE: Their website suggests 3g at BOILING WATER for 3-5 minutes)
Steep 1 : Tea broth: a very pale dirty yellow
Flavor: Extremely mild flavor. There’s hardly any initial flavors, only hints of toasted flavors, but nothing discernible. There’s an extremely mild astringency as my whole tongue dries out just ever so slightly. The water at 175 deg F isn’t helping leach out any of the flavors. (This is when I check their website and find that they recommend BOILING WATER)
Steep 2: 4 minutes @ 208degF
Leaf aroma: there’s a vegetal / roasted scent
Liquid aroma: A very mild fruity (not plum, no stone fruit) scent.
Flavor: There’s an extremely mild sweet vegetal notes. And a bit more astringency than the first steep. It’s not really all that much flavorful than the first steep
Conclusion for Western: When brewed to their recommendation, this tea has hardly any flavor, which is why they probably mix it with other things.
Tea: 5grams / Water: 150ml
The tea broth looks like a dirty rose wine. It looks rather unappealing, but has a underlying hints of sweetness in its aroma
Flavor: First thing that hits your mouth is BITTER. I can’t even finish drinking it as it’s so bitter.20 sec @ 175F — I dropped the steep time down as well as the water temperature, hoping that this will help. It’s not as bitter as the first steep, but still bitter enough to be undrinkable.
Conclusion: Won’t drink this stuff as GF. A higher tea to water ratio does not necessarily make this tea flavorful.
Teabox Tuesday! This is one of the teas I’ve had stashed from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all those that participated and shared! I always meant to try this sooner, and I think my brain thinking that a lot of these teas “should” be drunk gong fu style is what has held me back, as I rarely have the time to do a session. Finally today I just said “screw it” and made it western (easier for me, especially as I can take that out the door to work in my thermos). I had 3.3g in my sample and just brewed it all up in 450ml of water, and since I had no idea how purple leaf tea should be brewed, I used the recommendations from their website for 175F water and a 3 minute steep.
The leaf unfurls to be very full, reminding me a Jin Xuan oolong in appearance, with a strong stewed vegetal aroma. The color of the tea is a pinkish-brown color that is very pretty. The flavor is reminding me of a mellow Chinese green tea, as I’m getting that slight beany flavor that I find in Long Jings and Pi Lo Chuns; there is also a weak, floral oolong quality, though the vegetal flavor comes on stronger. There is no bitterness on the sip, but the tea does leave my tongue with a fairly strong lip-smacking/tongue-drying aftertaste. I’m curious if cold-steeping this would eliminate that and create a more refreshing “clean green” flavor.
It’s a nice enough mellow, afternoon pot of tea sort of brew, and I’m glad for the opportunity to try it!
Flavors: Beany, Drying, Floral, Green Beans, Vegetal
Yesterday morning I woke up early.
It was chilly in the house and I knew I needed a good strong, hot cuppa.
Since I was sleeping over at my boyfriend’s house, I didn’t have my full cupboard.
Lucky for me, I did bring Justea’s Earl Grey.
It had been quite awhile since I’d had a cup, but when I popped the lid off the tin….
Ahhhhh, heaven in a sniff.
I enjoyed my morning brew so much, I ended up having 3 more cups through the day.
It’s a lovely, well-balanced Earl Grey.
Not too bitter or astringent, and just enough bergamot to be tasted but not overwhelming.
I remember why this is my favorite.
Flavors: Bergamot, Tea
Discovery TTB #20
The purple oolong from this box was a surprise hit for me, so I decided to sample the other purple tea as well. There was barely a teaspoon of this tea left in the box, so I brewed up a single cup and finished it off. The color wasn’t as “purple” as I was hoping…more of a light, slightly blueish brown. And the flavor was surprisingly light (it tasted like a very mild green tea) and unpleasantly astringent. Not a fan!
These leaves are very dark with a purple tint to them. Once steeped, they unfurl to show they are rather large, green, and purple. The color of the brew is a pale green. It has an earthy smell. The taste is faint at first, also earthy, but lingers a bit. It doesn’t really have much flavor, in my opinion. And what it does have, isn’t that great. This was a sample. I don’t think I will drink this again.
From the Regional Group Buy. The leaves have a purple tinge to them, but the tea itself brews up a pale green-ish brown. At least, it does for me. It’s nothing like the purple in the picture on the card that came with this one, but maybe it’s my fault for keeping it too long. I’m thinking probably not, but since I actually don’t know I think we’ll just move along…
In flavour terms, it tastes a lot like a green tea. It’s fairly sweet, with a light edamame flavour. There’s something else there in the background, too; a flavour almost like the smell of melted plastic? I’m aware that makes very little sense, but it’s what I’m getting, and right at the back of the throat.
I’m okay with this one, but it’s not quite as unique as I hoped. I’ve tried two purple teas before (one from Butiki and one from Tealux, I think, which came in the form of unicorn horns.) I don’t remember either being quite what I expected, and this one isn’t either, so perhaps purple tea just isn’t my thing. Always worth a try, though.
From the Regional Group Buy. This black is one I’d characterise as “lighter” in terms of both flavour and mouthfeel. Something I’m enjoying about trying these teas close together is the level of contrast between teas from the same geographical area – especially given that most of them are either black or oolong. Both of the group buys I participated in with LP have been illuminating in this way, and I love how it makes me question my assumptions and preconceptions (some of them I didn’t even know I’d made…)
Anyway. This one is interesting, because at first sip it reminds me very much of whisky; it has both a richness and a peaty, earthy sweetness. The end of the sip is smooth and honey-like, but the whisky vibe remains throughout and lingers well into the aftertaste. It’s almost like the teas was aged in barrels, but I’m almost certain that wasn’t the case here.
Although the flavour is distinctive, it’s not heavy. It seems almost to dance across the palate. I have another tea from this grower that I’m now really excited to try, and I’d certainly seek them out again in the future.
Unsure who this sample is from (Sil, VariaTEA?) as it was in the bag of teas from Sil’s house. Decided to give it a shot tonight, and I think I may have oversteeped it or overleafed, as it’s pretty astringent. It does remind me of the purple spear tea (unicorn? I don’t remember what they were called) from… a company… although I’m not sure if I would have made that association if I didn’t know this was a purple tea. (My memory is super bad tonight, maybe I’ll fill in the details later if I remember.)
I’ll have to give it another try more carefully. Thanks for the sample, guys!
I’m very thankful you sent this over, JusTea! A lovely mint tea on a hot day. The tea looks like mostly mint with a piece of rose petal or purple leaf occasionally in the blend, maybe that is just my sample. The mint is mmmmm delicious. Sweet and strong, just the way I like it. The second steep is even more magic, sweet and full minty flavor. I figured I could steep close to boiling on the second cup because it is mostly mint. I didn’t try to add lemon to make it purple this time. I wanted to enjoy the lovely mint as is! If you want a great mint option, this one is perfect.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 27 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
Sample from Justea (i don’t know why i keep writing it with two t’s). I’ve been a slacker in getting a review out for this one, mostly because i need to be in the mood for mint. Mint isn’t really something i just drink a lot of and this is a MINT tea. peppermint and spearmint makes for a lot of mint. It works though. What doesn’t really work for me is the addition of the rose petals – though thankfully they’re not overpowering. I want to play with this one again, but this is a night evening cup of tea for me when the night is a little cooler. I like being able to sit out and inhale the mint.
Thanks for the sample Justea! I wouldn’t have picked this one out myself but it’s good when you want a little mint in your life ;)
Final Count: 57
This Purple Leaf tea steeps up beautifully! I suggest you check out my photos in the link at the end of my review. You get a unique pale purple, that turns pink with lemon.
The flavor is quite light, a little vegetal and plummy. However the texture is quite dry and it makes your whole digestive tract dry. I steeped this low temperature, so the balance of flavor output and astringency is VERY fussy. Someone cold brew this and report back. It is good if you like really delicate, dry green tea.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/purple-leaf-tea-justea/
JusTea sent me a message saying they’d like me to try this unique tea (and they also sent over some extra extra goodies.) Thank you so much for reaching out, JusTea! I appreciate that. I love JusTea’s offerings. Now, all tea that isn’t a tisane comes from the green tea tree. But not THIS. It’s purple leaves. I wouldn’t say the end result looks extremely purple… the leaf actually looks like a dusty, twisty black tea with a hint of emerald color. But upon brewing, the leaf looks like a delicious green. I tried following the steep instructions, but the resulting brew had the lightest of flavors like green tea. The color definitely seemed different though. A muted mauve. I didn’t have any lemons to squeeze into the tea, so I used quite a bit of lemon juice. The color was pink! But the flavor then was mostly lemon. Whoops. Pink lemonade! I tried steeping the second cup a half mug right after boiling for two minutes. Unlike a green tea would have, it didn’t taste too bitter, but again the flavor is light. It’s a fun and different experience though! A pink cup without including hibiscus.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug// 35 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 2 minute steep
Another day steeping with fresh leaves, I wanted to try two teaspoons as the flavor was a little light with one teaspoon. The cup was much more flavorful this time, even more like a green tea. The color of the cup was darker but I didn’t want to add lemon to affect the flavor this time. I just wanted to enjoy the flavor of the purple! Still like a light green tea but with a dry quality, vegetal yet sweet. I think the best steep time for this on the second cup might be 15 minutes after boiling (around 195 degrees) or even hotter as a half mug at boiling didn’t overkill it last time. Next time I’ll try two teaspoons and add lemon and see how purple it gets. If you want a unique tea experience, give this one a try!
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 30 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 min after boiling // 3 minute steep
The first thing that I would say about this tea is that it does not gong fu. That doesn’t mean that it is bad but it is ctc and medium quality so when I did try and brew this tea gong fu what ended up happening is that a lot of the bad aspects of the tea. That being said, I think that this tea does pretty well if you steep it for less then the recommended amount of time and do it western style. I used about 3 grams in a big mug and only steeped it for about a minute and the tea was honey like with some nice basic assamic notes. The tea wasn’t super interesting and didn’t have very many complexities but is nice when you are looking for something that isn’t as involved as a full gong fu session.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Sweet
I had been holding out on finishing this one off ‘cause I wanted to try it Gong Fu but I finally admitted to myself I didn’t really leave enough for that to happen so I just brewed up this last bit Western instead. Not a huge deal; I do have a VERY similar purple tea from a different vendor that I’ll be able to try out Gong Fu instead.
For this sipdown, though, I decided to add in some lemon infused honey as well just ’cause I had a bit of a scratchy, sore throat and I thought that would be a good compliment to the more vegetal/edamame tasting notes that the tea already has while still being soothing on my throat. It actually somewhat eclipsed the taste of the tea completely though, and I mostly just ended up tasting the lemon.
Currently sipping on the last bit of a mug of this…
This is equally roasty and vegetal; notes of grilled nuts, asparagus, and charred green bell pepper. It’s just a little bit smokey with hints of crisp, crunchy autumn leaves. Definitely better when it was hot; it was smoother and more comforting. Now that it’s cooled down to around room temperature I’m finding the vegetal elements more jarring and pronounced, which really isn’t my thing.
Gotta side with my first impression; just don’t love this one.
This one certainly wasn’t bad, but I did find it rather weak/mildly flavoured in general and lacking a lot of body. It had some really interesting flavour notes though! It was vegetal, mineral, sweet, slightly smokey, and sort of bean-y? Like, green beans but also not green beams. Definitely some kind of beans, though.
It reminds me of other purple leaf teas I’ve tried, while still also having differences.
Just a gut feeling – but I bet this’ll be better Gong Fu.
Finished this one off Western style; it was perfectly average. Somewhat medium bodied, with malty and mild red fruit notes with a touch of a honey-esque quality to it. Nothing to write home over, or particularly distinct in flavour. To be fair, this was old leaf – but even when it was fresher I don’t recall this being something particularly spectacular.
Revisited this one, as a pot of tea with some milk in it.
I still think it’s very light in body and overall flavour compared to most African black teas I’ve experience; however, I appreciate that it’s very smooth and easy to sip on without much though. Definitely a black tea that would make for a very good daily drinker. I found it fairly malty, with honeyed notes to it, and a touch of a soft woody and cocoa kind of finish. Totally a mild profile, though a richer mouthfeel with the milk.
Mild isn’t bad though; and again, I think this would excel as a low key daily drinker.
First tea of the day! This one was from the Regional Group Buy!
I’ve yet to leave my bed yet at this point – I just spent the first part of my day reading Marvel’s The Runaways and I have to say that I’m loving it quite a bit so far. Only complaint is that I’d like to see more of a focus on the kids themselves and less on their parents. Gertrude’s the best though, and her velociraptor is fucking amazing.
There’s nothing like rolling over to your end table, measuring out tea leaf from the sample bag you set there last night into the awaiting cup, hitting the kettle and steeping up a cuppa all from the comfort of your bed, snuggled under the sheets though. I just love my tea set up!
Anyway – this tea wasn’t bad, though just based on my experiences with other Kenyan black teas I did find it surprisingly light bodied overall. Probably light to medium body, realistically. For a region somewhat known for the briskness in their steeped up cups, that was kind of surprising? I did like the softer malt and cocoa notes though, they were smooth and satisfying with a nice sort of confectionery sweetness. I also thought the cup had a somewhat autumnal feel to it overall and perhaps some vague sense of fruitiness in the undertones.
Pleasant, and easy to sip on – it just felt weird without the tastes I’ve become accustomed to experiencing with Kenyan Blacks. Where was the briskness? The bordering on pithy citrus notes!?
From LP’s Regional Group Buy -
200F, 2.5min, overleafed
fruity, but tannic. Malty and creamy.
4min- fruity, creamier and smoother at the longer steep time. Longer steeps help smooth out flavor and tannins, not quite so rough.
I believe I enjoyed the steep more this time than the first session I had with this tea.
Flavors: Creamy, Fruity, Malt, Smooth, Tannic