As you may remember, I set very little store in novelty cakes - where my definition of "novelty" is particularly conservative. Thus, purple-leaf cakes would usually be classified as such by me, and consequently afforded little interest. You may have noticed that I tend to write mostly about orthodox shengpu, which reflects the types of tea that Lei and I drink.
Having received this cake as a generous "review cake" from Jerry at China Chadao, I kept my hopes at an appropriate level.
Gelugpa is as Gelugpa does
You can't deny that its presentation is excellent! It reminds me of Gelugpa garments.
Shouyixuan is also termed "SOYI" on various sites around the Internet
I'm never very good with opening paper seals (pictured above), because they tend to destroy the wrapper to which they have been glued. While I appreciate the gesture towards "security", I must admit that I wouldn't miss such labels if companies stopped using them (especially Dayi).
Though perhaps not clearly shown here, the leaves are a definite dark purple
"Only a fool cannot change his mind." This is a phrase that I have heard several academics use to illustrate the fact that one must keep an open mind. Part of the inquisitive process is to be open to the fact that your assumptions may be incorrect, and it is the sign of a healthy mind to be able to question itself and adapt to new evidence accordingly.
While I can't claim to be the world's greatest scientist, I try to be willing to be proven wrong. This "ziyawang" [purple-bud king] cake has gone a long way to changing my prior assumption about purple-bud productions. It looks, smells, and tastes highly pleasant indeed.
The leaves remind me of the shape of good Zhuyeqing lucha
I tried this tea on the most complementary day possible: the hottest we've experienced in this already rather hot summer. The clear, refreshing sweetness of this charming cake was the perfect tipple for such a day. furthermore, I took the afternoon off work especially to enjoy this tea, and hence I provided it with a most advantageous environment.
Appropriately enough, purple leaves come about as a protective mechanism against the presence of strong UV. That it proves to be such a deliciously appropriate summer-time tea is a charming coincidence.
I wouldn't buy this tea to age, but for immediate consumption, it is good fun. At $30, it's priced about right, I would say. As you might expect, it is particularly fruity and sweet. Unlike most purple-bud teas, it has some complexity, providing a lovely base of sweet leather and a tangy, long finish. It isn't immensely challenging, but it is perfect for a Friday afternoon away from my lab...