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Demystifying Yellow Tea

Posted by Angelina Kurganska on

It’s hard to talk about yellow tea without trying to de-cloud the mysticism surrounding it. For many, it is still an enigma. The reason is, it is tough nowadays to come across a tea master who knows of the exact steps to producing a yellow tea.

Where Does Yellow Tea Come From?

Yellow tea is the rarest of all tea types. It is produced exclusively in China’s high mountain regions of Anhui, Sichuan, Hunan, and Zhejiang provinces. Yellow tea is a relatively new tea type, its production began sometime around the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

From the same region comes an exceptionally delicious tea known as Lu An Gua Pian. An exquisite green tea which requires meticulous production methods. More and more tea farmers in Anhui are abandoning its production as it is not in favor of the economy. Unfortunately, much similarly to yellow tea.


What Makes Yellow Tea So Special

Yellow tea is similar to green tea. It is not uncommon for vendors to sell green tea as yellow tea so make sure you are purchasing from a shop you trust.

What makes yellow tea different from green tea is the vital step called “kill green”. This is the step that kills the grassiness of the tea and makes it oh so sweet and aromatic.

The process of making yellow tea includes these crucial steps:

  • pan-firing the young spring buds and tips
  • wrapping them in special linen several times for three days and keeping them in warm, humid condition
  • drying them slowly over charcoal

The key to this procedure is the temperature that it is done at. Only a handful of masters in China know of the exact temperature and the secret is never shared.


The harvest of tea leaves required for producing yellow tea usually happens in March, right before the last snowfall of the season. At the time China’s high mountains are often still covered in snow and ice. Tea farmers maneuver through dangerous conditions to get the very first tips of the tea bushes.

Undergoing the meticulous processing of yellow tea means that you may either end up with an exquisite and highly sought-after tea or that you may ruin the whole batch of tea leaves which were so scrupulously acquired.

Every year there is only about a week where the weather conditions are ideal for yellow tea processing. This is the velvety time of perfect balance between temperature and moisture of the air.

Compared to other tea types, yellow tea is fairly high in both caffeine and L-theanine. These are the key qualities that we mention in Let's Get Tea Drunk!, which are essential for getting tea drunk.

Until very recently yellow tea has only been made for the appreciation of locals or as tribute to the emperor, never being shared in the vaster tea markets. However since interest towards this rare tea has been growing in the West tea farmers have been trying to accommodate tea enthusiasts and keep it alive.