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Yellow Tea: Minor but Unique Delight

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2024-05-27 12:36:29 | Author: ZONG Shihan


A cup of the Junshan Silver Needle tea and tea leaves. (PHOTO: VCG)

By ZONG Shihan

Yellow tea, a lightly fermented variety, is one of the six major teas in China. Compared to other teas, its production accounts for a small proportion of the total tea output.

Nevertheless, yellow tea, with its yellow liquor and leaves, as well as its sweet and mellow taste, has gained great popularity among a section of tea enthusiasts.

Yellow tea is a unique species in China with a long history. According to historical records, it originated in the Tang (618–906) and Song (960–1279) dynasties and flourished in the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1912) dynasties. Its unique characteristics made it highly valued by many royalties.

One example of that is the Junshan Silver Needle tea, which Tang Dynasty Princess Wencheng brought to the Tubo kingdom when she married its king Songsten Gampo in a matrimonial alliance to prevent hostility between the two kingdoms. It is a kind of yellow tea grown on the Jun mountain.

Yellow tea is produced by fixation, rolling, heaping and drying. The process is similar to how green tea is processed, but with an additional heaping for the yellowing process before or after drying.

This process promotes partial oxidation of substances like polyphenols and chlorophyll, which is crucial for the unique characteristics of yellow tea. The main method of heaping for yellowing involves wrapping tea leaves after fixation and rolling them in paper or covering them with a wet cloth for a period ranging from several minutes to several hours.

This process utilizes high temperatures to deactivate enzymes, while the subsequent oxidation of polyphenols is caused by damp heat, resulting in the production of colored substances. A light degree of discoloration produces yellow tea, while a heavier degree leads to the formation of dark tea. Therefore yellow tea can be considered a transitional tea between green tea and dark tea.

It is beneficial for alleviating indigestion and loss of appetite, while also moisturizing the skin.

Editor: 宗诗涵

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