Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tea Review 87 - Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Yellow Tea)

Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Yellow Tea)
Upton Tea Imports

As I read through the section on yellow tea in Mary Lou and Robert Heiss's excellent book, The Story of Tea, it occurred to me that I'd never actually tasted any yellow tea.

Well, I decided it was time to resolve this matter and set about getting my hands on some. I'm not inclined to buy tea in quantity without tasting it first, so I found myself patronizing Upton Tea Imports, who make all of their stock available in sample sizes (if you know of anyone else who offers yellow tea samples, do tell).

Yellow tea is probably the least known type of tea. According to the Heiss's, it's similar to a green tea, except that after the initial drying and just before the first firing, it goes through a step "called men huan, during which yellow leaf tea is lightly and slowly steamed, then covered with a cloth to allow the leaves to breathe."

Here's what Upton has to say about their Jun Shan Yin Zhen:

"This rare yellow tea from the Hunan province has a rich history, and was once a famous tribute tea. The flavor is light yet richly layered, with floral notes, a light, fruity aroma and a gentle bite on the palate. Very limited supplies."

As far as the dry leaf goes, Jun Shan Yin Zhen is reminiscent of white tea, with small, narrow leaves that may or may not have a yellowish cast to them. It seemed that they might, but perhaps I was just in a suggestible state.

The aroma of the dry leaf, as well as the brewed tea, is very subtle and the latter has a light golden/yellow color. The flavor is just as low-key, though my perception might be affected by the fact that I've been drinking a lot of heavy Assam teas lately.

Mouth feel is exceptionally smooth, without even a hint of bite or bitterness. The best part was a lingering, sweet aftertaste that was still around a half hour later and may have lingered longer if I hadn't taken a drink of water.

If you're a fan of full-flavored teas only, Jun Shan Yin Zhen is probably not what you're looking for. For those who like white and light green teas, it may be worth a try.

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Jess K said...

i really love this huang ya yellow tea from http://www.teacuppa.com/Meng-Ding-Huang-Ya-Yellow-Tea.asp

William I. Lengeman III said...

Thanks for the tip. I think I'll try some of this.