What is Yellow Tea? Types, Benefits, & History

What is Yellow Tea? Types, Benefits, & History - ABoxTik 一盒精品 1

What is yellow tea? Yellow tea is one of the six major teas in China. The types of yellow tea are divided into large tea, yellow small tea, and yellow bud tea groups according to the size of fresh leaves, old tender, and bud leaves. Do you feel confused when you hear this?

Many people thought that Junshan Silver Needle is green tea, but in fact, many manufacturers make Junshan Yinzhen very similar to green tea. Junshan Yinzhen is a type of yellow tea, and the processed product will be a more even ratio of buds. The colour is golden yellow, and the outer layer is wrapped with pekoe, thus, the Junshan Silver Needle is also called gold Inlaid Jade.

When it comes to this, you will definitely want to know what yellow tea is and how it is made, and how it differs from green tea. The following is a detailed introduction.

What is Yellow Tea? Types, Benefits, & History - ABoxTik 一盒精品 3

What is Yellow Tea?

What is Yellow Tea?

Yellow tea, like white tea introduced earlier, is one of the six major types of tea in China, holding a significant position in the world of tea. Apart from the famous Junshan Silver Needle mentioned earlier, other varieties such as Yuan’an Yellow Tea, Mengding Yellow Buds, and Huoshan Yellow Buds fall under the category of yellow bud teas. Noteworthy for its “yellow leaves and yellow liquor,” yellow tea has gained popularity for its unique qualities, making it a favored choice among tea enthusiasts.

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History of Yellow Tea

Yellow tea was historically regarded as tribute tea, reserved for consumption by the upper class. Due to its rarity, craftsmanship, and flavor, yellow tea swiftly became a cherished beverage. It was a customary practice among high-quality tea producers to donate their finest products to the emperor. In the 1700s, Chinese emperors often used tea for personal consumption or special events, entertaining important dignitaries. Although the tradition of tribute tea ceased around 300 years ago, yellow tea has maintained its reputation as a drink of the upper class.

Yellow tea is made from leaves of dedicated tea trees. Its rarity is attributed to the laborious, time-consuming, and delicate production process, requiring specialized skills. The extensive effort involved makes large-scale production of yellow tea challenging, contributing to its exclusivity in the international market. Currently, there are three main varieties of yellow tea, each originating from different regions in China.

Why is Yellow Tea So Rare?

The intricate and time-consuming process of making yellow tea demands considerable human effort and expertise. This has made it challenging for the knowledge and production methods of yellow tea to be disseminated to the Western world over the years. Today, Chinese yellow tea remains unique and stands out in the international market.

Types of Yellow Tea

1. Junshan Silver Needle – Yellow Tea Variety

Junshan Silver Needle yellow tea is produced on Junshan Island in Hunan Province, China. Revered as the favorite tea of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, Junshan Silver Needle shares flavor characteristics with Silver Needle white tea, exhibiting floral notes, sweetness, and a light and airy tea fragrance. Junshan Silver Needle is a type of yellow tea that exclusively features tea buds. Harvesting begins in early March, picking only the unopened buds during early spring.

It is said that Junshan Island has been associated with tea for over 1,300 years since the Tang Dynasty. Junshan Silver Needle was used as tribute tea during the Qing Dynasty, with the imperial court requiring 9 kilograms of Junshan Silver Needle tea leaves annually. Due to its scarcity and limited producers, Junshan Silver Needle gained prominence as the most prestigious tea in Hunan Province.

2. Meng Ding Huang Ya (Mengding Yellow Buds) – Yellow Tea Variety

Meng Ding Huang Ya yellow tea is produced on Mengding Mountain in Sichuan Province. Consumed since the Han Dynasty, Meng Ding Mountain has the earliest recorded history of tea cultivation. Meng Ding Huang Ya features a nutty flavor and a mild grassy taste, benefiting from its geographical location next to the Yangtze River, enhancing the tea’s compatibility with the flowing river water. It is one of the ancient tea varieties in China.

Meng Ding Mountain’s famous teas include Ganlu (Sweet Dew), Shihua (Stone Flower), and Huang Ya (Yellow Buds). Among them, Ganlu green tea is the most famous. While the name Meng Ding Huang Ya first appeared in the Tang Dynasty, there is still debate about whether it refers to the yellow tea we know today, the production techniques, and the tea leaves used for brewing.

3. Moganshan Huang Ya – Yellow Tea Variety

Moganshan Huang Ya is cultivated on high-altitude slopes in Zhejiang Province, imparting unique flavors to the tea. Known for its subtle sweetness and lingering aftertaste, Moganshan Huang Ya produces a light green and yellow liquor after brewing.

4. Huoshan Yellow Buds – Yellow Tea Variety

Huoshan Yellow Buds is an ancient yellow tea variety produced in Anhui Province. Made from both tea buds and leaves, it brews into a light green and yellow color. The primary production areas include Jinji Mountain, Jinzhuping, Jinjiawan, and Wumijian, with Jinji Mountain or Jinzhuping being the most esteemed. Huoshan Yellow Buds are typically harvested after April 4th or 5th, with higher-altitude regions having later harvests. Due to the decreasing number of producers and tea masters for this tea variety, coupled with the lengthy production process and high cultivation costs, Huoshan Yellow Buds tea is on the verge of extinction.

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“Tea is an answer to most of the problems.” – Author unknown

What is Yellow Tea? Types, Benefits, & History - ABoxTik 一盒精品 5

Tea Classroom – Yellow Tea

What are the 6 major teas in Chinese?

The 6 major types of tea in China are green tea, black tea, dark tea, oolong tea, yellow tea, and white tea. The following is an introduction in detail:

  1. Green tea: It can also be called unfermented tea, which is a type of tea made by using the new shoots of tea trees as raw material. It is also one of the most popular tea leaves variants.
  2. Black tea: Similar to green tea, black tea is fermented on the basis of green tea.
  3. Dark tea: It is a special type of tea that is fermented by microorganisms and made with moist heat. It has a history of more than 400 years.
  4. Oolong tea: It is a tea made from greening, wilting, shaking, semi-fermenting and baking.
  5. Yellow tea: It is a tea made from fresh leaves, blanching>kneaking> sweltering>drying. Its biggest feature is that drying is insufficient after kneaking, therefore, the colour of the tea leaves will be found to have turned yellow, and that is how yellow tea is created. The focus of yellow tea is yellow leaf and yellow brew.
  6. White tea: It is a tea with complete buds, fresh fragrance, yellow-green brew colour, and sweet taste. The main processes are withering, baking, picking, and refiring.

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What type of tea is yellow tea?

Yellow tea is a lightly fermented tea and is processed a bit like green tea, so it is often easy to confuse the two. But the difference is that a process called “sweltering” is added during the drying process of yellow tea, in order to partially oxidise the polyphenol chlorophyll in yellow tea, similarly to the processing method used for green tea.

The production method of yellow tea: blanching the fresh leaves>kneaking>sweltering>drying. In particular, the methods of blanching, kneaking and drying are similar to green tea. The key point of yellow tea is “sweltering”, which is the most important procedure of making yellow tea. The method of sweltering is to first wrap the tea leaves that have been blanched and kneaked with paper, >and then cover them with a damp cloth. After waiting a few hours, let the tea blanks be non-enzymatically oxidised under the action of water and heat. This will form the “yellow” of yellow tea.

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Do you know Yellow Tea?

The method of making yellow tea in detail.

Step 1. Blanching and kneaking.

Firstly, it is necessary to destroy the activity of enzymes and evaporate part of the grass gas by blanching and kneaking. This step is important because it can be a great help for the future fragrance formation.

Step 2. Sweltering

Next is sweltering. It can be said that it is the biggest focus point of yellow tea production, and it is also the most critical process to make “yellow brew”. Once blanching and kneaking is complete, the conditions for the effect of dampness can be created for the yellow tea leaves, and the yellow colour can be formed after the greening is subdivided. While some yellow teas are made, they will turn yellow after the fire, and some will alternate after being simmered.

Another point is that sweltering can speed up the yellowing process of tea leaves but will vary depending on the water content and the temperature of the tea leaves. The higher the temperature of the tea leaves, the faster the tea leaves turn yellow under the action of damp heat.

Step 3. Drying.

The biggest difference between yellow tea and other tea leaves is that in addition to sweltering, the drying process is “divisional”. Therefore, the temperature of yellow tea will also be lower than that of other teas. Yellow tea is made of meticulous raw materials, picking single buds, or processing one bud and one leaf. Common yellow teas are as mentioned above: Junshan Yinzhen, Mengding Huangya, Huoshan Huangya, etc. are all famous yellow teas.

“Making tea is a ritual that stops the world from falling in on you.” – Jonathan Stroud, The Creeping Shadow

What is Yellow Tea? Types, Benefits, & History - ABoxTik 一盒精品 9

What are the benefits of yellow tea?

  1. Yellow tea is a type of stuffy tea (ōu chá), which produces a considerable amount of digestive enzymes in the process of stuffiness, and digestive enzymes are very helpful to the spleen and stomach. Therefore, those who have indigestion, poor appetite, or obesity, will reap the benefits of drinking yellow tea by improving and maintaining a healthy body.
  2. At least 85% of the natural substances in the fresh leaves of yellow tea are retained. These natural substances have powerful anti-inflammatory and sterilisation effects which cannot be compared with other teas.
  3. Yellow tea is rich in amino acids, tea polyphenols, vitamins and other nutrients, which have a very significant effect on the prevention of esophageal cancer.
  4. There is a type of tea called “nano yellow tea”, which is a tea that can better utilise the original yellow tea. Nano yellow tea can pass through fat cells more than ordinary yellow tea, allowing fat cells to restore metabolic function under the action of digestive enzymes, effectively eliminating fat.

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What is the method of making yellow tea?

When it comes to the brewing method of yellow tea, we must start with the tea set. Yellow tea is suitable to be served in a cover bowl or a glass cup, especially if you are going to brew Junshan Yinzhen on the day of consumption. Drinking a fresh brew from a glass cup can greaten the joy and beauty of the tea leaves rising slowly, and it can also have a special visual effect while tasting the tea.

When it comes to the quantity of yellow tea, first of all, you must fill your tea set a quarter full of yellow tea leaves according to the capacity of your tea set. The water temperature should be 85 degrees Celsius, and the duration for the first brew should be 30 seconds, while the second for 6 seconds, and the third for 2 minutes.

In addition, regarding the choice of water source, it is still recommended to use mountain spring water as the main source, otherwise the next best option will be purified water. Tap water and mineral water are not recommended for brewing yellow tea as various substances in the water will have a great impact on the tea quality.

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ABoxTik, enjoying the precious product – yellow tea.

Although the production is extremely rare nowadays because of the time-consuming and laborious workmanship, yellow tea is still one of the six major teas in China. In addition to the special colour of yellow tea, the tea brew is very refreshing and slightly sweet, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. It is the type of tea that is quite addictive after drinking it, none the less, it is still worth tasting for those who love tea!

ABoxTik is a brand dedicated to sharing tea information with everyone. In addition to the history of tea, its efficacy, and the secrets behind it, I hope everyone can learn more about these teas that fill our lives and the secrets of tea fragrance that carry through to human history. If you are also interested in tea and want to acquire all kinds of knowledge about tea, you are welcome to continue to follow our article updates, read our previous articles, or visit our official website directly to find the tea that suits you.