Those of us new to the world of loose leaf tea are usually surprised to find that tea can be classified into more than just green and black tea varieties. White tea is sometimes mentioned in the news and touted for its health benefits, and it isn’t long afterwards that one encounters the diversity and complexity of oolong tea. With time and an adventurous spirit, usually the last kind of tea that one discovers is pu-erh tea.
But what if I told you there is yet another classification of tea?
The sixth category of tea is what is known as yellow tea, and it is unfortunate that it doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, especially in the West.
So what is yellow tea?
Comparatively, yellow tea shares a strong familial resemblance to green tea, but both the tea leaves and liquor tend to have more of a golden color to them. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when one learns that the processing of yellow tea is, in fact, very similar to green tea with the exception that an extra step is added where the tea leaves are wrapped in a special cloth that encourages additional oxidation.
What does this additional step do other than take more time, demand more labor, and change the color? It has a very pleasant and unique affect on the flavor of the resulting tea. Yellow teas tend to exchange the vegetal flavor of green teas for a nuttier one, bringing out flavors of chestnut, wheat berries, toast, or bamboo, depending on the tea.
Another difference between the two can be found in their preparation. Whereas green teas can sometimes prove extremely delicate, the process of creating yellow tea not only eliminates much of the astringency but makes the tea itself much hardier. This means its a very forgiving tea to prepare.
The extra steps involved in making yellow tea traditionally made it more expensive to produce, and so it was enjoyed only by locals or imperial officials.
Today, a different problem has emerged. The demand for green tea has risen, and so instead of taking the time to produce yellow tea, many roasters have migrated over to producing green tea. The result has been that there are fewer and fewer tea masters left who are able to make quality, authentic yellow tea.
We hope to change that.
By making these wonderful teas available to you, we hope that we can help keep the tradition of yellow tea alive. It certainly deserves to be tasted by more than just the locals and royals.
Without a doubt, yellow tea is an excellent choice for beginners as well as connoisseurs.