Place of Origin and History
Zi Zun Cha (紫笋 ’Purple Bamboo Sprout’) Green Tea counts among the most tradition-rich tea of China and has regularly been listed in the ‘10 Great Tea of China’. The history of this tea, coming from Changxing county in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, as a tribute tea to the emperor goes back the Chinese tea sage (or ‘tea saint’) Lu Yu (733–804), author of the world’s first known tea publication. In his work ’Cha Ching’ (‘The Classic of Tea’), where the cultivation, picking, processing, serving and savoring of tea is systematical described for the first time ever, Lu Yu speaks of Changxing as the best suitable location for tea cultivation and of Zi Sun Cha as the best tea of China. Lu Yu, who advised his time’s ruling Tang dynasty emperor to make Zi Sun Cha his first tribute tea, is said to have personally supervised the establishment of a tea production site in Gu Zhu, where the Zi Sun Cha for the imperial tribute was to be produced from then on and for a period of over one thousand years.
The name of Zi Sun Cha, verbally translating to ‘purple bamboo shoots’ (also ‘Chang Xing Cha’ or ‘Gu Zhu Zi Sun Cha’ in reference to its place of origin) is derived from its leaves purple color in spring, resembling the color of bamboo shoots, with bamboo growing abundant around Changxing’s tea plantations. Not least because of the cultivar’s local bond and the rare availability coming with that, the general presence of Zi Sun Cha dropped significantly after the tea’s time as imperial tribute tea. While Zi Sun Cha has always been enjoying a very high status in China, the tea became known in the west only during the 1970s, when it experienced a kind of worldwide renaissance with rising awareness of individual traditional Chinese teas, and has been valued as a particularly exquisite specialty by a growing number of declared friends of Chinese green teas ever since.
The Zhang Ling Tea Plantation – biodiverse cultivation without pesticides and artificial fertilizer
Our Spring High Mountain Premium Zi Sun Cha Green Tea offers you the best existing quality of this tea. It comes from Zhang Ling Eco-Diversity tea plantation, located on the slopes of Gu Zhu Mountain, which is an original venue of the cultivation and production of this tea from imperial tribute times. The plantation with its more than 100 years old tea bushes is officially recognized as a ‘tea base’, i.e. a regional quality center, and is health and environment-friendly-certified in China. The cooperatively organized operators pursue an ambitions philosophy of biodivers organized cultivation without the use of any pesticides or artificial fertilizer. The tea gardens of the Zhang Ling tea plantation are surrounded and patched by mixed forest consisting of various types of trees, among them more than 100 years old gingko trees.
Spring High Mountain Premium Zi Sun Green Tea is exclusively handpicked until today once a year only in spring. Picked are only the young buds, along with 1-2 adjacent young leaves (picking standard 1 : 1-2). The slender leaves exude a fresh, pleasant orchid fragrance. After the picking, the bushes are cut back, with the cut-off branches being left on the ground as a natural fertilizer. The tea bushes rest and no leaves are being picked for the complete remainder of the year.
The processing of Zi Sun Cha widely resembles the traditional standard of Chinese green tea processing: after picking, the tea leaves are first left the wither for several hours in the sun and/or indoors in the half-light of the tea factory, before being heated up for a short period – traditionally in a wok pan – in order to stop the oxidation process of the leave enzymes and fixate the green condition. Then, the leaves are rolled into the characteristic needle form of a ‘Zhen Zing Cha’ (‘needle leaf tea’). Subsequently, the leaf needles are further dried and then roasted over charcoal as a last processing step. In the old times, each of these processing steps was done by hand, while today also on the Zhang Ling tea plantation a specialized machine takes care of the rolling and the drying is done in an electric oven.
Taste and Aroma
Tastewise, Zi Sun Cha shows a highly individual profile in the silky-soft, highly fragrant infusion: fresh spinach and other vegetable notes mix with a touch of sautéed mushrooms and a unique ‘umami’ sweetness, reminiscent of that of Japanese Kabusecha- or Gyokuro teas. When preparing Zi Sun Cha Gong Fu Cha style, with relatively short infusions and high dosaging, the tea will surprise with a series of fruity and floral notes beyond the first infusion. While other famous green teas, such as Long Jing, Bi Luo Chun, Anji Bai Cha or Mao Feng, also each have their own characteristic taste, we found that the special, ‘high mountain’-infused taste profile of Zi Sun Cha Green Tea makes this tea sticking out among all other Chinese green teas.
In a clay or glass teapot (stunning visual effect with the opening of the needles), pour 250 – 350 ml hot water of a temperature of 85°C over 3-5 g of Zi Sun Cha Green Tea and let infuse for ca. 2 minutes for a first infusion. With an extended infusion period of 3-4 minutes for a second, and 4-5 minutes for a third steep, this green tea will produce 2-3 delicious, full value infusions.
The typical Chinese preparation approach uses higher dosages and shorter infusion periods. This way, even more tasty infusions can be produced, and individual taste notes dominating individual infusions can be isolated and/or highlighted.
You will find more 100% pesticide-free teas from wild growth and biodiverse cultivation in our category ’Biodiversi-TEA @ Siam Tea Shop’. For more information on the topic pesticides and tea and the way we deal with it at Siam Tea Shop, please also read our ’SiamTeas Health and Environment Guideline’.