This is a new tea from Shang Tea, just produced last month, and I invite the Shang Tea staff to edit and update this page’s info as needed since I don’t have a lot of the info to add myself.
Shang produced this tea from the same plants that they harvest for his Special Reserve Green Tea (my favorite tea of his, one of my top favorite teas ever). These are plants from an abandoned tea farm that has been growing on its own for some years now (I forget how long). Unlike their previous yellow tea produced from these plants, this one is not pressed into a cake. It is loose.
Yellow tea involves heaping the leaves after firing, and wrapping them in cloth to swelter in their own aroma and heat. This is done two or three times if I remember right and is an all-night process, done at intervals over the nighttime hours. The intention with yellow tea is to remove some of the bright grassy flavors that some tea drinkers don’t enjoy and to highlight the more mellow, smooth notes of the tea.
Theoretically, you should be able to tell yellow tea from green because the leaves look yellowed. With teas that have a lot of white hairs this is more obvious but with darker green leaf teas it looks more like an olive color. This tea from Shang has that tone.
After the first infusion, the aroma of the leaves is really nutty and mellow, and reminds me a lot of zucchini tempura. The taste of the tea is really mellow too, and quite sweet. The flavor tastes a bit like cooked zucchini as well, it’s dewy and vegetal. It’s a little bit grassy too, but not much.
I’m brewing this in a gaiwan, Gongfu style, and the second infusion is much like the first but more rich and full flavored. I’ts still really sweet and mellow though, with no bitterness at all.
By the third infusion there’s a slightly toasty flavor that reminds me of the crust on a creme brulee, but it’s a background note. Toasted hazelnut might sound like a more accurate description to some people. It’s got a little more of a vegetable broth taste now too, and reminds me a bit of sugar snap peas. Still getting cooked zucchini too.
I really love this tea. It isn’t a cheap tea because of the production method, but it is worth it. This is one of the best teas I’ve had, honestly, and easily the best yellow tea I’ve had.
One note here, I brewed this at 176F/80C, not a very hot temperature, and the same one I use for green teas. I’ve had it brewed at 85C and it was a bit more “zesty” and bright tasting. Also I’ve had it brewed at around 90c and it had a much stronger flavor. There was some bitterness every time except for this current session at 80C, so I think I prefer it this way. It depends on how much you like some bitterness in your tea.
Flavors: Broth, Garden Peas, Hazelnut, Sweet, Toast, Zucchini