How to make sunrouge, green tea with pink color

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Learn how to prepare sunrouge tea, an antioxidant rich tea with a dazzling colour

Cup of Sunrouge pink tea

Sunrouge is a green tea type with a beautiful pink hue and fascinating color changing properties.
In this post you’ll learn everything you need to know to enjoy this tea!

What is sunrouge?

Sunrouge, also known as Sun Rouge or Japanese purple tea, is an unusual Japanese tea with a light pink color.

Despite its pink color, sunrouge is a green tea. 

This tea was deliberately developed by researchers who wanted to make a tea with the highest amount of antioxidants (catechin and anthocyanin) as possible. 

For this purpose, they made a variation of the cultivar (abbreviation for “cultivated variety”) Cha Chuukanbohon Nou 6, which is a crossing between the green tea types Camellia sinensis and Camellia taliensis.

After 8 years of research, Sunrouge was finally registered as a new tea on its own in 2009.

In addition of being still a very new, quite unknown tea, sunrouge is hard to find on the market because it only grows on a small island in the South of Japan.

The tea leaf from sunrouge also needs a very meticulous growing and harvesting process to keep its antioxidant properties intact.
This makes this tea a real delicacy.

Why is sunrouge pink?

Color comparison between sunrouge green tea with and without lemon

Sunrouge is a treat as well for tea lovers as for color enthusiasts.
While the leaves of the sunrouge tea plant have a reddish color, they turn very dark green (almost purple or blue) when dried.
And the brewed tea has a light pink color with a grayish hue that will delight your senses. 

What makes sunrouge tea even more fun is that when you add lemon, it gets a more intense and brighter pink color.

This signature color comes from the high anthocyanin content in the sunrouge tea leaves.

Anthocyanins are a type of polyphenols found in plants like berries and grapes.
This natural pigment, responsible for the red, blue or purple color in some fruits and vegetables may offer a potent protection against free radicals

Sunrouge tea benefits

Sun Rouge was created for therapeutic purposes, like other “functional teas” bred to have enhanced health effects, such as GABA tea or benifuuki.

This means, the focus while developing these plants was placed on getting higher levels of some ingredients (for example antioxidants like egcg and green tea polyphenol) rather than on its taste.

As a result, these new teas have interesting properties but they may not taste so great compared with other popular green tea varieties like sencha or matcha.

The properties of sunrouge are still being explored, but:

  • it could have anti-inflammatory characteristics
  • it might be helpful for those who suffer from bowel issues or colitis
  • sunrouge’s caffeine content could help fight fatigue and some studies suggest that it may help improve vision, reduce visual stress, and even combat night blindness
  • could help against allergies [source]

How does sunrouge taste?

Cup with pink tea

My first impression when drinking sunrouge was: “wow, is this a dry flavor…”. 

However, while it may be a little bitter at first taste, I still found sunrouge a pleasant tea to drink. 

Sunrouge has a grassy, slightly fruity taste with a delicate floral fragrance, which made for an overall enjoyable drinking experience despite its astringency.

It’s also unlike most other Japanese teas because it pairs well with fruit like lemon juice which can make for some refreshing combinations!

Caffeine content

On average, sunrouge has a little bit more caffeine than other green teas such as sencha.
Like black tea, it usually clocks in between 50-70 mg per cup depending on the harvest time of the crops and how you brew it.

What’s the difference between Sun Rouge and Purple tea?

Sunrouge is not the only tea made from purple tea leaves.
Kenyan and Chinese purple teas also exist.

Sunrouge vs. Kenyan Purple Tea

Sunrouge vs. Kenyan purple tea

One best known purple tea nowadays is Kenyan purple tea.

Just as Sunrouge, Kenyan purple tea was also recently developed to have a high content in anthocyanins.

But Kenyan purple tea is made form a different tea plant variety: TRFK306.

Kenyan purple tea is also grown on a different climate and it has a very soft taste, with almost no astringency.

Here you can read more about Kenyan Purple Tea.

Sunrouge vs. Chinese Purple Tea

Zi Cha (紫茶) aka Zi Ya (紫芽) and Ye Sheng (野生) are some purple tea varieties that can be found naturally in high altitudes in China.
These teas are oft processed as pu-ehr (fermented and aged).

How to make sunrouge tea

I love how this pink tea taste good both brewed with hot water or cold brewed.

Here is an overview of how to prepare sunrouge with both methods:

Time needed: 2 minutes

How to prepare sunrouge with hot water

  1. Cover with hot water

    Pour water heated to around 158°F (70°C) over the tea.
    You’ll approximately need 1-2 tsp. of tea leaves per cup of water.

  2. Steep

    Let it steep for 1-2 minutes before removing the tea leaves.
    It’s important not over-steep the leaves as it can become too strong. 

  3. Re-steep if desired

    You can reuse the tea for a second steep.Sunrouge first and second steep

How to cold brew sunrouge 

This is my favorite way to enjoy sunrouge tea.

With this method, it’s easy as pie to get a delicious iced tea and there isn’t any risk of making the tea too bitter from steeping in hot water for too long.

Also, like cold brewed green tea, cold brewed sunrouge has less caffeine than when hot brewed.

To cold brew Sunrouge tea:

  1. Put the tea and water (cold or room temperature) on a recipient.
    You’ll need around 2 tsp. of loose tea per cup of water.
  2. Let it steep on the fridge overnight (or for 8 hours).
  3. Remove the leaves and enjoy!

Your tea is ready to drink, but if you add some drops of lemon juice to it, you’ll get even a more dazzling pink.

Cup and teapot with pink tea
5 from 6 votes

Sunrouge Tea Recipe

A Japanese green tea with color-changing pink glow
Print Recipe
Resting time:8 hrs
Total Time:8 hrs

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1-2 teaspoon sunrouge tea
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • Put the tea and the water (cold or room temperature) in a recipient
  • Steep on the fridge over night
  • If you want a more intense pink, add some lemon juice before serving

Notes

You can also make sunrouge with hot water; just be careful not to over-steep it or you’ll get a very bitter tea!:
  1. Heat water to around 70°C (158 °F)
  2. Pour the water over the tea 
  3. Let steep for 1-2 minutes
  4. Strain the tea 

Nutrition

Calories: 2kcal
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: green tea, Japanese tea, lemon
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 2kcal
How do you spell Sunrouge?

You can write the name of this tea as Sunrouge or Sun Rouge, both are correct.
In Japanese, it’s written with the katana alphabet: サンルージュ.

What type of tea is Sun Rouge?

Sun Rouge is a Japanese purple tea variety that is usually processed as green tea.
This means, the tea plant has purple tea leaves because it has been developed to have a higher content in some antioxidants.
Once recollected, these tea leaves get the same treatment as Japanese green tea (steamed for a short amount of time).

I think Sunrouge tea is worth a try if you get the opportunity to do so!
Have you tasted it? Share your thoughts about this tea in the comments!

Do you prefer teas that have less astringency? Check my post about Kenyan purple tea, you may enjoy this mellow tasting tea!

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’m so happy I’ve come across this post, there isn’t so much information out there about sunrouge and this was very helpful.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for the tips to prepare it! I found sunrouge a little too bitter, but cold brewing following your tips made it much better!

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