Tea Giving: Day 21 (Yellow Tea)

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“There’s nothing wrong with being a little unusual.”
– Emma Ishta

Chances are you’ve never heard of Yellow Tea (Tea Buds) or as it’s known in Chinese:  huángchá (黄茶; 黃茶).

It’s hard to know exactly when Yellow Tea came on the scene. There is some speculation that it was during the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912). It was mostly produced for local consumption and less for export to a broader market which is why you may be unfamiliar with it.

Huo Shan Huang Ya is an organic, rare, hand-crafted tea from the Huo Shan Mountains in Anhui Province. This area is known for its steep, jagged mountains, springs and waterfalls, bamboo and alpine forests. There are around 75 separate peaks spread across Anhui Province region. This high elevation has rich soil which contributes to the wonder of Yellow Tea. Grown at an elevation of around 1200 meters, this tea is typically harvested in Spring.  It’s noteworthy in that the leaves are an unusual sword shape with tiny fluffy buds and a slight golden cast to the leaves.

It yields a very floral, smooth flavor with a sweetness that lingers for quite some time. The liquid is pale yellow and contributes in part to how it got its name.

huo_han_huang_ya_yellow2016060303The processing for yellow tea is similar to green but with an additional step added on after the initial drying and right before firing. That step is called “man huan” – where the leaves are steamed lightly, covered with a cloth and left to absorb additional sweet fragrances and flavors.  In green tea processing there is something called “Killing the Green” – for yellow tea its known as “sealing the yellow” and is the key to defining and classifying a yellow tea.  This unusual, additional step removes the grassy smell that is traditional of green teas. It also slows down the oxidation process so that it creates a lovely mellow taste and, of course, color. The oxidation range is around 10-20%.

There is some research that points to the immense health benefits of Huo Shan Huang Ya Yellow Tea, which of course include high levels of polyphenols and the amino acid Theanine – an amino acid that helps reduce anxiety and high blood pressure. Not only is it high in the vitamins B1, B2, and C, it’s also high in Caffeine.

“Studies have shown that yellow tea can improve lipid metabolism and protect the liver against chemical injury. Yellow tea can also chelate heavy metals, inhibit colon cancer cells, and inhibit the growth of various intestinal microorganisms, like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, and Bacillus cereus.”

That’s quite an endorsement.

If you are a green tea lover, there is every reason to believe that you will also love yellow tea. Maybe even more. Many green tea loyalists have been pleasantly surprised and have started to include yellow tea in their tea drinking habit. The mellowness and that lingering natural sweetness is hard to pass by.

Today is a great day to try something unusual because its Day 21 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving and because you can enjoy 25% Off Huo Shan Huang Ya by using Code TEAGIVING21 at checkout on the website!

Happing Trying Something New!
Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Giving: Day 21 (Yellow Tea)

Yellow Tea?

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Yellow tea – huang ya – has been around and beloved since the days of the Tang Dynasty (617-907 AD). Though some consider it be a variation of green tea – it is in fact its own class of tea – and is most treasured. 

The Huang Shan Mountains of Anhui is home to around 75 separate mountain peaks spread across Province. It is nothing short of a visual feast with its steep jagged mountains at an elevation of approximately 1200 meters. Lush rich forests, thick rich bamboo groves and rushing water springs all contribute to the terroir of the region and the tea itself.  The high elevations and dense rich soil partnered with handmade/ traditional tea farming practices brings this wonderful yellow tea alive for us to enjoy when its first picked typically around April of each year.

After plucking and initial drying, and just before firing, the leaves are given an additional step called “men huan.”  That extra step is referred to as “sealing the yellow” and is the defining step which creates: Yellow Tea. The tea leaves are steamed lightly and then covered with cloth to allow the leaves to absorb additional fragrances/flavors and allowed to rest for up to a day. At the discretion of the Tea Master, the smothering of the leaves may be repeated in order to bring it to the desired finish.  

Huo Shan Huang Ya is smooth. Really smooth. And floral. And completely lacking in bitterness or astringency – which is a defining characteristic of most Yellow Teas. Our lot is naturally sweet and vegetal, but not overly grassy. The straw-colored liquor from the sword shaped leaves yields a surprisingly bright, clear and clean cup of tea reminiscent of fresh hay.  The floral notes linger… and linger some more on the palate.

When we first introduced Yellow Tea / Huo Shan Huang Ya to our die hard Green Tea lovers/customers, the reaction was always the same: “I’ve never heard of Yellow Tea.”  That’s because it’s not as common in the West. But once our tea people were nudged to try this gorgeous leaf, there was no turning back: love at first sip!

The Health Benefits of Yellow Tea are similar to the benefits of Green Tea with an additional advantage: it is easier on the stomach. People sensitive to Green Tea have had great luck with the mellowness, yet flavorful Yellow Tea.

Should you be up for a new tea adventure, you can find our Huo Shan Huang Ya on the Pearl Fine Teas website!

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

 

 

 

Yellow Tea?

Seven Cups Tea House (Denver)

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pam sipping tea

I visit Denver often. At least 3-4 times a year because most of my family lives out there. Each time I go, I try to have tea with my sister-in-law Roseanne and my nieces, Christy and Lauren. It’s always a good time. On this particular trip, I ended up having tea with my dear friend Pam who actually now lives in Boulder with her husband Tim. She made the trip to Denver to meet me at Seven Cups Tea House so that I could sample their stash. Pam and I have known each other for almost 10 years now having met randomly on Waikiki Beach during a surf lesson. In all the years I lived in Hawaii, I had never tried to surf, so when I went back for a months vacation, just a year after moving to Washington DC, I thought I should give it a try. Having failed miserably, I swam back to shore only to see Pam actually riding a wave. We’ve been friends ever since. Anyway…

7cups24Seven Cups Tea House resides in a quiet part of Denver on South Pearl Street. Coincidence? I think not. Asian culture values the word “pearl” as something elegant, of value, perfect and pure. Hence the name of our very own tea company: Pearl Fine Teas.

Upon entrance into the tea house, you are faced with jars of loose leaf tea to the right of the shop. The back area has tables for sitting, tasting and sharing an traditional Asian treat.

7cups32We met on a quiet Saturday morning and lined up the different teas that we (or rather I) wanted to sample. After reviewing the tea filled jars, I decide to try two teas I’ve never had, along with two that I am familiar with – treasures blend and an oolong. An Alishan to be exact. I had asked them if they had anything close to a “Milk Taste” oolong and they said the Alishan was the closest. To me it tasted nothing like a “Milk Taste” Oolong.

Pam had never really been to an Asian tea house, so she allowed me to lead the tasting. She was open to suggestion and it was so fun to pick and choose teas for us both to try.

7cups62We were the only two in there that morning so we had the full attention of the shop manager. We began the tasting with a Meng Ding Huang Ya (Yellow Buds) Yellow Tea 2007 which I found a bit too light for my liking, although I think Pam was partial to that one. After, we sipped a Mo Gan Huang Ya (Yellow tea) Yellow Tea (Organic) 2008 which again, a bit too light for my liking but the flavor was interesting. After, I moved to a Seven Treasure tea blend and the Alishan Tong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty) Taiwan Oolong 2007. You can see from the photo to the left that the liquor color of the Alishan (4th from the left) is quite light. We had multiple infusions of each tea and I remember thinking that I liked the 2nd infusions of almost all of them. I was also very interested in their 7 Treasures Blend. I’ve had something similar here in Washington at Ching Ching Cha, but their version is called 8 Treasures and quite frankly, its a fantastic. It’s one of the tastiest tea blends they offer. Each infusion gets sweeter and sweeter. I was expecting the same from the 7 Treasures, but alas, it was not.

7cups55In addition to the teas, we tried a few treats – most made with some sort of bean paste. They were “ok” but I thought that the flavor was lacking probably because they had just come out of the fridge. My expectation was that they would have been prepared that day and not quite so… cold.

Would I venture back to Seven Cups Tea House in Denver? Probably. Mostly because I feel strongly about supporting others in tea (that alone would be a reason to visit again) but also because I think there is an interesting selection. I would however eat before going.  Admittedly, my favorite spot so far in Denver is the Brown Palace. They do afternoon tea better than most!

7cups11So what does Seven Cups of Tea mean? Somehow I vaguely remember reading that seven cups of tea were important to ones over all health. I have no idea where I read this and when I did a google search, it was no where to be found. On the Seven Cups web site, it refers to a poem called:  ‘The Seven Cups of Tea’…

‘Seven Cups’ is named after a very famous ancient poem about tea. Poetry, history and legend all have an important role to play in Chinese tea culture, and the Seven Cups poem is one of the traditional verses that is still recited today. It was written by Lu Tong (798-835AD) during the years of the Tang dynasty, and the theory of seven cups of tea still bears Lu Tong’s name. It was written as a response to his friend Mong, a Tang court adviser, who had sent him a parcel of tea.

The first cup caresses my dry lips and throat.
The second shatters the walls of my lonely sadness.
The third searches the dry rivulets of my soul to find the stories of five thousand scrolls.
With the fourth the pain of life’s grievances evaporates through my pores.
The fifth relaxes my muscles and bones become light.
With the sixth I find the path that leads to the immortal ancestors.
Oh the seventh cup! Better not take it! If I had it the only feeling
Is the fresh wind blowing through my wings,
As I make my way to Penglai.
-Lu Tong, Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907)


Seven Cups Tea House (Denver)