First developed during the Tang Dynasty, yellow tea has yellow leaves and a yellow tea color and is often made from the leaves of wild growing tea bushes in China. It was highly prized during the Imperial Period in China because its color was the color of royalty. Yellow tea, which is rare and expensive, is just making its presence known in India.
Yellow tea is a non-fermented or non-oxidized tea with the goal of removing the grassy smell plus changing the taste and color. The leaves are dried through a much slower process after steaming than green or white teas. One method involves bamboo baskets which are used to slowly dry the tea leaves over several days. Charcoal is placed on a stand inside the bottom basket, and heats the top basket holding the leaves. The leaves are tended very carefully and turned every ten minutes or so, so the drying process is evenly distributed. In the evening the leaves are covered, and the next morning the process is repeated until all the moisture in the leaves is gone. Making yellow tea is an art and the laborious process of drying is one reason this variety is quite expensive.
Yellow tea is an uncommon class of Chinese tea, but there are three famous yellow teas left that are still popular:
Jun Shan Yin Zhen - the yellow variation of Silver Needle sometimes called “Golden Needle,” also known as the king of yellow teas. It consists of young tender handpicked buds from the Hunan Province and ranks among the 10 most famous Chinese teas. It has a delicate aroma with floral notes and a smooth, light sweet taste.
Huo Shan Huang Ya – A rare yellow tea also called “Yellow Bud,” it was used as an Imperial tribute in the Ming dynasty and is a mixture of mostly downy buds and one-bud-two leaves from the Anhui Province. When infused it has a yellowish green color and the aroma and taste are a unique reminiscence of sweet corn.
Meng Ding Huang Ya – Also known as “Yellow Sprout” and comes from the peak of Mount Meng in the Sichuan province which is recorded in many famous Chinese books. The tender yellowish green tea leaves point straight up when infused and produce a sweet grassy taste and fragrance with hints of nut.
Yellow tea is much easier to get used to and much easier on the stomach than green tea, yet has similar health benefits including being rich in antioxidants and also increasing metabolism. They should be steeped at about 160-180 degrees for 2-3 minutes depending on desired concentration. They can also be re-steeped to make another cup.
TEA TIME TRIVIA
Yellow teas are known as cooling teas
with legendary healing properties
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”