Yellow tea is a rare variety of loose leaf tea, with the least amount of production and with very few regions producing it. Being by far the rarest in China’s six tea categories, yellow tea, however, is an essential part of China’s long-lived tea tradition and is frequently featured among China’s ‘Ten Famous Teas’ list.
Yellow tea is a step up from green tea, being made through the process of micro-fermenting. The technique involves the wok fry process – very much like in green tea production, but at reduced temperatures for a shorter time period. The tea leaf being only partially dried, traps the moisture inside, which allows it to oxidize and ferment the tea to various degrees – “yellowing” the leaves.
A primary aim of making yellow tea is to remove the characteristic grassy smell of green tea, while still preserving its health qualities.
Yellow tea has a smoother palate than that of green tea, and many believe that it is also more gentle on the stomach.
Because yellow tea production is very time-consuming and difficult, it has been primarily made for the appreciation of locals and hasn't had as much of a broad market presence.
For the thousand kinds of green tea, there are only three kinds of yellow tea that survive today.
Unfortunately, as the demand for green tea has dramatically increased in the West, and since it is much easier to produce, many have abandoned the production of yellow tea in favor of green. The knowledge of the yellow tea-making process is being forgotten in China. Today, there are only but a few tea masters alive with the skills required to make yellow tea.