Yellow teas are one of the rarest of China’s teas. In ancient China, yellow teas were only produced for and consumed by the Emperor and his court during the Ming (1368–1644AD) and Qing (1644 to 1912AD) Dynasties. The process for making yellow tea is very time consuming and requires a lot of skill. Like with all other varieties of tea the processing will differ slightly and as a consequence it has its own variations.
The initial stages of yellow tea production are similar to green tea. The leaves are gathered and dried in large pans. At this point the process changes and the high level of skill required to make yellow tea comes into play. The leaves are covered with material, in some cases linen or thick paper is used. At intervals the tea is fired again, re-wrapped and left to cool and oxidise slightly. This process goes on over several days and then is slowly roasted to finish the process.
Yellow tea is only harvested at certain time of the year. When you consider this along with the complicated processing and the time required for it, you could probably understand why this tea has had a hard time surviving, and probably would have become completely extinct if it were not so highly valued by locals for its health benefits.
Like green tea, yellow tea has a wealth of health benefits attached to it as it contains a high level of antioxidants. These, for instance, help fight the ageing process and can help prevent cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.1
Our Yellow Tea
Here at The Teahouse Emporium we stock Huang Xiao, which translates to “Small Yellow Leaf”. It is made from a young bud and two leaves and is gently twisted into a curled shape. This tea was the winner of China’s tea cup 1999. Although dark in appearance when brewed it gives a yellow coloured infusion with a mild, sweetish honey like flavour.
Written by: Sarah Hanney and Emma Drew