Yellow tea is considered the rarest tea in the world. It is produced in small batches in an extremely delicate way and is only available outside of China on a very limited basis. A batch of high-quality organic yellow tea is very difficult to get your hands on. But… once you have that, then you are guaranteed an absolute treat. But what exactly is yellow tea? How is it made? Why is it so exclusive and just as important: what does it taste like? High time we highlighted the basis of this famous, delicate and unusual infusion. It is produced in small batches in an extremely delicate way and is only available outside of China on a very limited basis. A batch of high-quality organic yellow tea is very difficult to get your hands on. But… once you get that, then you are guaranteed an absolute treat. But what exactly is yellow tea? How is it made? Why is it so exclusive and minimal so important: how does it taste? High time we highlighted the basis of this famous, delicate and unusual infusion.
An imperial choice
– Yellow tea as the ultimate gift –
Yellow tea dates back to the early Qing Dynasty (1390 – 1650 AD) and was initially reserved only for emperors. This meant that yellow tea was prepared with great care as a tribute to the imperial court. It was also a common gift for an emperor to give to his guests. It is said that such a donation of yellow tea to the Germanic Empire in southern Scandinavia (now Denmark) brought yellow tea to the attention of the West. Like all other teas, yellow tea is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. But unlike the profusion of green tea varieties, yellow tea comes in only three varieties, depending on the region where the leaves were grown and harvested. Yellow tea generally has a sweet, clear and floral flavor and a soft fruity floral aroma. In addition, yellow tea has a medium body, which means that the taste is neither too strong nor too weak and that it has an enormous coupling capacity. Not only is it exceptional in taste and feel, but it also offers quite a few health benefits. These properties make yellow tea a must for all tea lovers.
Harvesting and cultivating yellow tea
– A matter of patience and dedication –
Harvesting the tea leaves needed to produce yellow tea is usually done in March, just before the last snowfall of the year. At a time when China’s high mountains are often still covered with snow and ice, tea farmers maneuver through dangerous conditions to get the very first tips from the tea bushes. And that’s just the beginning… To finally get yellow tea follows an extremely painstaking and time consuming process, requiring a traditional skill that very few people master. The initial stage is similar to green tea: the leaves are collected and dried in large pots, but then the process changes. What follows is the sealing or as the natives call “men huan”. The key to this procedure is the temperature at which it is done. Only a handful of masters in China know the exact temperature and the secret is never shared.
Every year there is only about one week in which the weather conditions are good enough to process yellow tea. A brief moment of perfect balance between temperature and humidity.
The fresh tea leaves are covered, for example with linen or thick paper. At set timed intervals, the tea is then re-baked, freshly packed and cooled and slightly oxidized. This allows the leaves to release and reabsorb moisture, a type of breathing process that the Chinese call “reabsorbing essence.” The leaves lose their green color, turn yellow and the taste changes. This process takes days and requires a lot of patience and dedication. The tea leaves are made slowly roasted to complete the process. Given all this, it is not difficult to see why yellow tea has remained so exclusive. No doubt it would even have died out if it weren’t so highly regarded by the locals.
What does yellow tea taste like?
We take a short look here, but: the taste of yellow tea is unparalleled. It is also an extremely delicate green tea drink, without the vegetable notes and grassy elements that come with most green teas. Instead, it gives the feeling of extreme purity, like drinking fresh morning dew. Yellow tea is soft, fresh, slightly sweet and the finish is remarkably smooth.
Combine yellow tea
– What do I eat with yellow tea? – To begin with: nothing. We recommend that you only enjoy your first few cups of organic yellow tea so that you can fully enjoy purity and subtle shifts in taste and fragrance. Once you are familiar with the basics, yellow tea offers absolutely stunning pairing options. During our tastings and food pairing events, many people referred to the taste of yellow tea as “slightly fermented”. And in combination with raw seafood, such as oysters, this connotation seems perfect, because the two combined create a real sensation.
Arte & amp; Zayne origin: our soft yellow
In our Origins range we have one amazing limited edition yellow tea available to you: Mellow Yellow: a 100% pure and uncut Huang Shan yellow tea, revealing all the beauty and purity that this unique tea variety has to offer.