Teas of the World: Yellow Teas

Our next stop in this virtual tea tour isn’t a place but a type of tea: yellow tea. It is often misunderstood, but there are at least three great yellow teas you owe it to yourself to try. I have been exploring some of them with surprisingly good results. Fellow writer on this blog Elise Nuding is also engaged in exploring this more rare type of tea (rarely seen outside of China). And another regular contributor to this blog Bill Lengeman had this to say about yellow tea.

Huoshan Huangya shoots turning bright yellow as they steep. (source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
Huoshan Huangya shoots turning bright yellow as they steep. (source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Brewing in the Gongfu style is said to achieve the best results, and using a glass gaiwan will show you the leaves at their best.

The Basics

Start with green tea leaves harvested in early Spring and that are small and unbroken. Then, unlike green teas, let the leaves oxidize slowly, a process that give them a more mellow and sweet flavor with less grassiness to the bright yellow liquid than most green teas. The tea liquid will also be high in antioxidants and relatively low in caffeine.

Some Teas

Yellow tea can be tricky to find outside of the better tea shops, as Elise Nuding found out in her aforementioned exploration, but those better tea shops may offer you a selection. If you are so fortunate as to locate such a vendor, look for one of these versions of yellow tea:

  • Huoshan Huangya — This tea dates back to about 91BC when it was recorded as being an imperial tribute in the Tang, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Today, it comes from the tea farmer that operates the mountain tea gardens near Huoshan, Anhui province, China. The Buxus-shaped dry leaves consist of tippy tender shoots that are yellowish in color. The tea cultivars used are Golden Chick and Huoshan Morning, local and traditional. They steep up a clear, yellow liquid that has a mellow flavor, a slightly thick mouthfeel, and a fresh aroma.
  • Junshan Yinzhen — Declared by tea experts to be one of the 10 most famous Chinese teas. Small wonder. Made of single, robust tea buds that have a needle-like shape and are bright yellow-green in color, the tea resembles the appearance of Bai Hao Yinzhen, a white tea. This yellow tea is produced in Junshan Island, Dongting Lake in Hunnan Province, China. It steeps up a liquid that is an orangey-apricotty yellow that has a mellow flavor and develops a sweet aftertaste. Not only is the tea rare, but producing it involves a painstaking and complex series of steps.
  • Imperial Meng Ding Huang Ya — Unlike the Junshan Yinzhen, the leaves of this tea are flat and straight. They are mostly buds picked during early Spring, tend to be yellow with gold tips, and steep up a liquid with a yellow green with a pure aroma and a mellow, thick, sweet taste. Another tea that was usually presented as a tribute to the emperor from the Tang to the Qing Dynasty. This tea is rich in antioxidants, mild in flavor, has no grassy smell, and is especially gentle on the stomach with no upset like some green teas can cause.

Hope you are able to locate one of these and enjoy the experience.

Don’t miss our next stop on this virtual world tea tour!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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One thought on “Teas of the World: Yellow Teas

  1. This tea is very nice. The leaves are very long and thin. They are a deeper green than the Premium Dragonwell, but still in the green range rather than leaning brown. It is hard to measure the right amount of tea, because the leaves are so long! My first mug was a little light on the leaf, but still enjoyable. For the second infusion, I added a little more leaf, and now I have something very good. The liquor is a light yellow-green. There are very light floral notes as well as light notes of asparagus (kind of like the long jing), but there is not the buttery-ness from the long jing. I guess you could call this an addition of floral notes, but minus the buttery notes in comparison to long jing. It is still not as floral as a Tie Gwan Yin, but lovely and light. Not even a hint of bitterness, and oh so smooth. I can see why it is one of China’s top teas. Definitely on the shopping list.

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