Leaf Type: Yellow
Where to Buy: Camellia Sinensis
This yellow tea composed almost entirely of buds comes from Sichuan province.Its magnificent young shoots are selected before being covered with the fine hairs typical of that grade of imperial picking! Its light yellow liquor is sweet and tasty. Bold hazelnut aromas are complemented by hints of vanilla and herbs. The finish is supported by its creamy texture and sweet taste. In the tradition of great teas – preferably to be enjoyed in a Gaiwan in a careful ambiance!
Learn more about this tea here.
Stream of consciousness review, meaning once I get to the steepings/infusions part of this review I’m just going to be taking note of my initial impressions/thoughts. I initially recorded this as a series of jot notes but have obviously since edited things to be paragraph formatted and easier to read…
This was a birthday present from my Dad; with the expensive price tag that comes along with this one I didn’t think that I’d ever be able to justify buying it but when I was explaining to him why yellow tea is such a big deal and how it’s something that I’ve been dying to explore but, because of the rarity, having a hard time doing something must have clicked for him because he surprised me with 25g!
I should note, the only other yellow tea I’ve had was a flavoured one and definitely not this high of a quality – I think that’s obviously something of note with this review.
Dry smell: From the bag this smell very strongly smells of rich hazelnut with herby undertones. After measuring it out into my gaiwan and being able to smell it closer/more directly I notice those smells and an almost borderline graham like smell. I do think you need to have an at least somewhat refined palate to pick up on it though; I’ve had various family members smell the dry leaf for this one and each of them swears they can’t smell a thing. The smell is so distinct for me though so I can only assume the difference here is that they’re tea plebians/don’t drink tea at all and, well, I’m obviously not and I definitely do.
Visually, the dry leaf reminds me a fair bit of silver needle, but with a more “tarnished” dusty yellow/ light brown colour, and very slightly smaller and more compressed/flat. I think it looks very aesthetically pleasing!
Infusion One – 30 Seconds:
Strong herbaceous and hay notes with a particularly peppery start and just a smidgen of astringency and bite are the first and foremost flavours with a menagerie of buttery vanilla and creamy hazelnut notes offering contrast and softening the tea a touch. There are corn silk notes and very soft roasty ones that fit somewhere into the equation. Fades into a soft, lemony flavour that lingers for a very long time, but only after having swallowed. There’s a lot going on, but it’s very pleasant! The leaf left in the Gaiwan smells like lemon pepper and hazelnut; weird but mouthwatering.
Infusion Two – 20 Seconds:
Smells like pepper, lemon and hazelnut. Less bite and less generic herby notes but still has some grip and some hay notes; it’s much more distinctly lemon pepper in start of the sip fading into roasty notes, vanilla and lemon in the body of the sip. I’m losing some of the hazelnut now as the other flavours get stronger. I tthoroughlyenjoy the transition from savory to light and sweet. It almost reminds me of vanilla lemon sponge cake in the aftertaste but the confectionery component’s not all there. It’s the butter that’s forming that impression, though. Leaf in the gaiwan is very lemony with some hay scent as well. It’s ticking my nose a little and making me sort of want to sneeze. But in a good way?
Infusion Three – 20 Seconds:
Oh wow; the flavour has diminished quite quickly as well as lost almost all the bite/grip. I pick up on a lot of hay notes; it’s quite similar to the flavour profile of your generic white tea/silver needle. There’s some creamy, buttery notes and a faint hazelnut and vanilla flavour. Mostly, it’s a sweet but dull lemon flavour though. This is my least favourite infusion thus far and I think, probably, a good place to stop steeping – even though I think I could get at least one more decent infusion from this I personally don’t push my Gong Fu sessions too long; I’m the sort of person who prefers to experience multiple different teas in one day than spend my whole day drinking a single tea.
Overall, this tea had a lot of really varied flavours to it but I found it so fascinating and enjoyable, and I think I learned a great deal from it. I would absolutely seek out this varietal again; I’m so intrigued to see how other companies’ offerings would compare! It’s quite sad that all of the ones I’ve seen have been so expensive; it’s definitely not one of those teas I can afford to buy from several companies in order to sample/compare…
Personally, I thought the second steeping was the best and had the most range of flavour as well as distinct flavours. Even though I know I said that I feared a novice/less trained palate would have a hard time picking up on the nuances I may have been wrong there; I thought almost all the flavour notes were very obvious. And, I definitely recommend seizing the opportunity to try this one if it presents itself to you!
Leaf Type: Yellow
Where to Buy: Dammann Frères
This tea is rare as it can only be plucked at springtime. It comes from the mountain Meng, in Sichuan province, where tea growing started during Han dynasty, more than 2000 years ago. At that time, yellow tea was only served at the imperial court. The 5cm long leaves are green with a pale yellow hue. The interesting colour and flavour of that tea come from a very unique processing technique. The fresh leaves undergo a swift withering and are then rolled in small quantities in “Niu Pi Zhi”, a kind of old yellow paper, in which they are left to dry naturally. This tea shows a pale yellow cup with a mellow character with hints of walnut.
This is much different from the yellow teas that I’m used to, but it is certainly just as enjoyable.
Actually, when I first saw the leaf, I didn’t think it was a yellow tea, because the leaves are quite dark. They have the appearance of a black tea, or possibly a well-oxidized Oolong.
The flavor is also quite different from other yellow teas – this is stronger in flavor than most yellow teas which are usually a bit more delicate. This has a strong nutty quality and virtually no grassy or vegetative quality except at the finish, where there is an ever-so-subtle hint of a vegetal note. Not grassy, just a hint of vegetation.
It is smooth and rich-tasting, with no bitterness, and very little astringency. It’s really quite sublime! It has a very pleasing buttery note that is sweet and creamy and complements the nutty note (which is likened to a walnut in the company description of this tea, provided above). It’s kind of roasty-toasty, but not too much, I think that even those that find they do not care for toasty tasting teas would find this quite enjoyable.
This is truly a lovely tea to experience. I have said it before (numerous times, even!): “I have found a new favorite from the brothers Dammann!” But… this time, I mean it! This is fantastic!