What is Yellow Tea?
What is Yellow Tea? Yellow Tea or Huo Shan Huang Ya is one of the rarest of the six classes of tea, and is only produced in China, in the high mountains of Hunan, Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces. The Yellow tea style began to be produced in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Most of the high-quality yellow tea is grown on the Jun Shan Island, with the property only producing around 500 kgs per year.
Yellow tea takes its name from the straw-colored liquor. The productions style is very reminiscent of green tea, but with the unique additional step of encasing and steaming the tea. The primary goal of this additional step, is to remove the characteristic grassy taste of green tea.
The process begins with pan-firing the spring buds, and then wrapping them with a special cloth, a step that is repeated several times over a three-day period. This process gently oxidizes the leaves before the final step of charcoal drying. This smothering process pulls aromas back into the buds and creates a more aromatic and mature tea, free of the “grassy” taste.
The creation of Yellow tea is quite the undertaking. It takes 60,000 carefully harvested buds to yield just one kilogram of tea. Because the production is so arduous and time-intensive, most of the yellow tea has been consumed by locals. Because of this, most of the West now consumes mostly green tea, and has very little to no knowledge of the Yellow tea style. Today, very few masters are left and the yellow tea-making knowledge and skill are being lost in China.
If you are consuming tea for the health benefits, then yellow is believed to be richer in antioxidants than green tea, as the buds are plucked earlier in the year. This style of tea is also believed to prevent cancer and aid in lowering cholesterol. It is also believed to be more effective in preventing liver damage.
If this sounds like a tea that you would like to try, Tin Roof has one Yellow tea in stock year-round. Little Melon Seed or Lu An Gui Pian, is one of Chain’s “famous teas” and is an exceptional yellow-style that I have always enjoyed. You can find this tea in our green section.
See you at the shop.