Until today I’ve tried 5 different kinds of Chinese green tea: Longjing (Dragon Well), Anji Bai, Lu Shan, Mao Jian and Bi Luo Chun. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, and I’m waiting for Dafang and Nanjing to arrive at Teance, but so far the Chinese green teas fall into three categories of taste:
1. Clear and dew-like fresh (Bi Luo Chun)
2. Bitter and dry (Mao Jian)
3. Buttery, creamy and/or nutty (the other three)
Once, the Anji Bai tasted so crazily fresh like a minty herb with no buttery note, but I haven’t been able to replicate that taste so I’ll leave it with the Lu Shan and the Longjing for now. Yesterday, I tried the Purple Bamboo (Zi Sun) green tea. You’re aimed with the undeniably small-sampled statistics, so guess which category in my book it falls under.
The third one: buttery.
Imperial Tea Court claims that for this original varietal of Zi Sun from Zhejiang, “use 3-5 grams of leaf per 6-8 ounces of water and infuse with 65-75°C (150-160° F) water. Steep 2-3 minutes”. That is just ridiculously long. Except for herbal teas like chrysanthemum, which you can steep for as long as you like without oversteeping, the longest time for whole leaf teas is 1 minute and 30 seconds. Green teas usually have shorter steeping time: between 10 seconds and 1 minute.
Fortunately, the hostess at Imperial didn’t tell me how long I should steep this Zi Sun, so I just did it like I would with any green tea: try 10 seconds for the first steep, check the color, see how I like the taste, adjust the time for subsequent steeps.
Color of dried leaves: light yellow green with a blue-ish hint, a bit similar to the Pre-Rain Longjing (Dragon Well) but less blue and the leaves are not pressed to become flat.
Color of tea liquid: faint white potato
The smell: toasted almonds
The taste: smooth, creamy, light, most similar to Anji Bai, not as thick and buttery like Lu Shan. The longer I steep it the grassier it becomes (more stringency/bitterness comes out). After 3 steeps, this tea lost most of its flavors, and the leaves didn’t taste like much.
The price is around the average for green teas: $23.75 for every 2 oz bag.
This Zi Sun didn’t leave any big impression on me, I neither like it nor dislike it, it makes a good palate cleanser or a casual all-day drinker.