Featured in a recent article as one of the five teas I would like to explore more, yellow tea can pose a challenge, even for the most hardened tea hunter. It can just be really hard to get your hands on, and is a type of tea that most people, including many tea enthusiasts, have never heard of. Part of the reason for this is that it is only produced in China.
Although many teas were originally only produced in China, the dissemination of tea culture, aided by increased trade and Western colonialism, meant that many other countries developed systems of tea production. This, however, was not the case with yellow tea, and China remains its only place of production. As such, you will not find this unusual tea lurking at the back of a supermarket shelf, or even in many of the more specialist food shops that stock numerous varieties of loose tea. I have only ever seen yellow tea sold in specialty tea shops, but by no means in all, or even most, of them. It is also unlikely that you will see yellow tea on the majority of tea menus offered, even in the most distinguished of establishments.
After some serious sleuthing, I managed to locate a tea shop in London that sells yellow tea (in loose leaf form, of course, and at a reasonable price, too!). In keeping with my resolution to explore yellow tea more, I decided I should drink it somewhat regularly to experience it more fully. Consequently, I now have a small packet of kekecha yellow tea sitting at home.
Yellow tea is fairly similar to green tea in terms of processing; the main difference is that after the first firing the leaves are allowed to dry for longer, which gives them their yellowish hue. However, the taste is quite different, as yellow tea does not have the distinctive “grassy” taste of green tea. In fact, I find yellow tea to taste much more like white tea. There are differences of course, but ones that I would probably not have been able to identify when I first started drinking tea, as both white and yellow tea consist of quite subtle flavours. For my first pot of yellow tea, I made sure I took the time to properly enjoy and experience the tea. I brewed it up in my cast iron teapot (one of several teapot styles from Asia) and settled down to sip it slowly. It had the mellowness of white tea, but a hint of the sweetness that can be found in some green teas. My general impression was that it made for a very refreshing pot of tea, and its lightness seems appropriate for longer, warmer days. With the summer weather starting to creep in, I look forward to trying it iced, perhaps whilst sitting out in the garden. Good thing I now have some at home to play around with!
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