Previously, we started this series by easing the tea novice into the world of tea with black teas, green teas and oolongs. Today, we’ll go a little deeper and introduce yellow teas, white teas and flowering teas.
According to The New Tea Companion (2015), these teas are “among China’s rarest teas.” Yellow tea is only produced in China – specially in the high mountains of Hunan, Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces. Like green teas, they are not oxidised but are largely fermented. This means that the processing journey is largely similar to green teas, but with an extra fermentation step, called “men huan”, or “sealing yellow”. Like white tea, yellow teas are harvested in early Spring, when leaves are still in their bud form – leaving a small window in which the tea can be picked. These buds are then pan-fried, and wrapped in a special cloth or paper, and stored in wooden boxes. The tea is refired and rewrapped periodically over the span of three days, allowing the leaves to be gently oxidised, before they are slowly roasted.
This process is often time-consuming and difficult, and that’s why yellow teas are so rare today! However, because of the effort during its production process, yellow teas are often more aromatic and less astringent than other Chinese tea variants.
Currently the only yellow tea in our marketplace, Huo Shan Yellow Shoot is a yellow tea from Huoshan, Anhui. This tea is so smooth with a subtle sweetness, and was often offered as a gift to Chinese emperors.
These teas go through extremely light and spontaneous oxidation, and is the least processed of the tea types, and often enjoyed because of its delicate flavour profiles. Harvested just once a year, typically in Spring, only the youngest and finest leaves and buds are plucked and gently sun-dried. This produces a gold liquor, with a fresh, light flavour.
Some white teas are made only with the unopened tea leaf bud, but others are made from one bud and one or two young open leaves. In addition, white tea is also full of antioxidants and gets better as it ages. In fact, there’s a saying about white tea “one year tea, three years medicine, seven years treasure” (一年茶、三年药、七年宝). If you’re into tea for their health benefits, this is definitely a tea you should be drinking.
Popular white teas include the Silver Needle and White Peony. Silver Needle tea, or Bai Hao Yin Zhen (directly translated to “white hair silver needle”, is made exclusively of young, unopened silver buds, with no leaves or stems at all. As its name suggests, the buds plucked are needle-shaped, and covered with fine hairs.
Yixing Xuan’s version of the Silver Needle is delicate, and good for up to 3 steeps! Alternatively, Brew Me also has a great organic version.
The second finest white tea would be the White Peony, or Bai Mu Dan. How did its name come about? White Peony tea is made from a single bud and two leaves, which gently unfurl in hot water, resembling the petals of a peony blossom! Tea Chapter’s White Peony is produced in Fu Jian Fu Ding in Zhenghe – known for its superior white peony teas.
Between the two, White Peony is fragrant and aromatic, while Silver Needle has a refined taste, and a more subtle sweetness and umami. Which do you prefer?
Not only are flowering teas delicious to drink, they are beautiful – their blooms unfurling in hot water, revealing the flowers hidden beneath. Made with either white tea or green teas, flowering teas consist of tea leaves sewn into edible flowers, such as chrysanthemum, lily, jasmine, and others. They are a treat for both the mouth and the eyes!
If you’re looking to try flowering teas, why not try Blessings or Endearment by Kindred Teas? Hand-sewn by Chinese artisans, these green teas are sure to be the centrepiece of your table. Each tin contains 2 blooms of each flavour, with 4 flavours in total. Kindred Teas are on sale until the end of the week, so act fast. Use the promo code “KIN10” to receive 10% off all purchases from Kindred Teas!
Pinetree Pantry’s Blooming Tea also features 4 different flavours, and are on sale at a 10% discount until 21 Dec 2018.