A natural wonder: Yellow tea - beyond words!
Every year as spring comes around, we await the first teas with excitement and our taste buds tingle at the prospect of savouring the explosive freshness of the new arrivals …
One of the very first teas we receive each year is the Meng Ding Huang Ya, the famous yellow tea from Sichuan province.
What is Yellow Tea?
While once the prerogative of emperors whose ‘official’ colour was yellow, these teas can now be enjoyed at an affordable price, especially when you consider the work that goes into their production. From a prestigious and refined plucking, consisting solely of buds, similar to the many premium white teas (up to 100,000 buds to produce 1 kilo of dry leaves), this style of tea is initially transformed as a green tea, i.e. an initial heating to deactivate the enzymes responsible for oxidation. After forming and drying, the finished leaf is then smothered in small bundles of either paper or cotton cloth while it is still warm and spends several hours wrapped in this way. During this step, which lasts for several hours, the leaves gradually change colour to become a yellow-green. The heating and smothering is repeated 3 or 4 times over a few days of transformation … Thus producers take the time to produce this type of tea, and being rare, these small artisanal lots are swept up quickly by discerning enthusiasts.
The scarcity of yellow tea is due to the fact that there are so few examples of it and also that is also produced in such small quantities. Many producers who used to produce yellow tea now lean towards green tea, given its greater popularity in China.
In terms of flavour profile, yellow tea is somewhere in between white tea’s sweetness (due to the presence of buds), and green tea’s vegetal aspect.
Meng Ding Huang Ya: a complex and enigmatic tea
The region of Ming Shan where this refined tea comes from enjoys a mild climate so production can begin as early as March, sometimes even February. Located in the heart of the clouds, this mountainous land, perfect for tea cultivation, has been known for over 1000 years. The region inherits a long line of expertise for the production of rare teas nowadays so rare they are becoming almost inaccessible.
The visual beauty of the leaves commands a certain appreciation from the start! Aligned in a glass, their vertical dance delights the Chinese enthusiasts. Rich savoury notes of hazelnuts compliment its delicate vegetal character, tinged with a floral impetus evolve into a deep and vibrant finish! Tasting this enigmatic and complex tea, discreetly revealing its ineffable qualities, is an invitation to experience its different sensations and effects. Some teas need to be fully savoured … being mostly beyond words.
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