Saturday, August 9, 2014

What-Cha, Kenya Steamed Purple Varietal Green Tea

What-Cha Tea Description:
Smooth with hints of plum and grass.

Sample provided by Wha-Cha

My Review:
I am continuing my education in purple varietal teas today, thanks to What-Cha (Tea Redefined), a new provider operating out of the UK. I was so fascinated by the Yunnan Graceful Purple from a couple days ago that I immediately wanted to see how it compares to tea grown and processed in other areas.

This, as the name says, is a steamed green tea from Kenya. It is not listed on Wha-Cha's website at the time of this writing. I am getting the honor or introducing it to the world. Woo Hoo!

Kenya grows and exports a lot of tea. Unfortunately the vast majority of it is turned to dust and put into paper tea bags, bound for a grocery store aisle near you. As you know, I am not totally opposed to tea bags. I use them myself from time to time for the convenience. The problem with it has been the low price paid to the growers for their hard work. Loose leaf yields a deeper more flavorful cup and puts more money into the farmers pocket. Wha-Cha sources directly from the farmers in Kenya, resulting in fresher tea for you and me, and with success, a better life for the people of Kenya. It is a Win, Win.

Dry Leaf
Opening the (resealable!) sample pouch I am met with a completely different experience than with the Yunnan green. This has a grain aroma with hints of dry grass. It is a very inviting scent.

The leaf itself is very dark and it does actually have a purplish tint. It really does not resemble a green tea, seeming more like what one expects from a black tea leaf.

Along with the long twisted leaf there are some twigs in the mix.

The label on the sample is clearly marked with steeping recommendations. I used two two tsp of leaf in my Bodum press with 175 F water. I steeped for the middle of the recommended time - 2 1/2 minutes. The liquor is dark honey yellow and maybe really more amber in color.

Wet Leaf
The steeped leaf has a really intense cooked spinach aroma. That always fascinates me as one would never suspect it based on the gentle dry aroma.

The leaf looks chopped up to some extent and has turned deep olive green and brown. Looking closely, it still maintains a purple tint.

Taking my first sip reveals just how different this purple green tea is from the Yunnan. Where the Yunnan tasted like a very mellow sheng pu'erh, this one tastes more like what one expects from green tea. I suspect this is probably far more accessible to a lot of tea drinkers.

I definitely taste the grass note that Wha-Cha states. I am not that familiar with plum but I can make that connection. It is not a sweet or tart note to my tastes, rather a soft fruit note. Honestly this reminds me somewhat of Mao Feng. It is not bitter but there is a nice clean bite. The aftertaste lingers and seems to expand with a fresh grassy green leaf flavor.  

Kenya Steamed Purple Varietal Green Tea
Halfway through the cup I added sweetener. Just as with my previous purple experience, it added nothing to the cup and even sweet tooth me does not recommend it.

This is a very delicious cup on its own.

As I was putting the wet leaf back in my press for a second steep, I noticed the liquid under the leaf on the plate had a purplish, or blueberry tint. I am amused.

The scent of the wet leaf on the second cup is less spinach and a little more herbaceous. I also seem to be detecting a roasting or light smoke note. Is the steaming done over a wood fire? Though I doubt it, I really have no idea. The scent suggests it.

It doesn't really matter as the steaming scent did not translate into the second cup taste but I did take several whiffs so it was not my imagination.

What I am tasting is a less bright cup with the soft plum note along with a slight earthy or mushroom flavor. It still maintains a slight bite.

Wrapping up my thoughts, this is a far different from the first purple tea I sampled from Wha-Cha. For my own tastes, I loved the Yunnan Graceful Purple with its raw pu'erh like similarities. That said, I think the Kenya Steamed Purple Varietal Green Tea is much more familiar in its green tea taste. It is lightly fruity and reminds me of a traditional Chinese green tea. This is a solid offering and worthy of a try.

Visit the What-Cha site.

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