Yellow tea is a type of tea renowned for its delicate flavour and unique processing method. Unlike its name suggests, yellow tea typically doesn't exhibit a bright yellow colour but is instead a very pale green.
As for the taste, yellow tea typically offers a milder taste compared to green tea, with subtle floral and grassy notes. It can be smooth, refreshing, and slightly sweet, with a hint of nuttiness or earthiness.
To process yellow tea, the leaves undergo the following stages:
Withering: After the tea leaves are harvested, they are spread out in a controlled environment and subjected to gentle heat. This initial step helps to reduce the moisture content of the leaves and initiate the oxidation process.
"Men Huang" (Sealing Yellow): Following withering, the leaves are placed in a special container or wrapped in cloth, allowing them to undergo a unique oxidation process known as "sealing yellow." This step involves moderate oxidation under controlled conditions, which imparts the characteristic yellow colour to the leaves and develops the tea's distinct flavour profile.
Fixing: Once the desired level of oxidation is achieved, the leaves are subjected to heat to halt the oxidation process. This step helps to preserve the flavour and aroma of the tea while preventing further enzymatic activity.
Rolling: After fixing, the tea leaves may undergo a rolling or shaping process to give them their final appearance. Rolling helps to release the tea's natural oils and further develop its flavour.
Drying: Finally, the tea leaves are dried to remove any remaining moisture and stabilise the flavour and aroma. This step ensures that the tea is properly preserved and ready for packaging and consumption.
Yellow tea is a bit of an enigma in the tea world, but once you really get into it, you'll find that it can be used to brighten up any day (yes, I spent a few minutes thinking up that one).
Time to sip on sunshine in a cup, my friends!