In this video, we demonstrate the use of a gaiwan for brewing tea. We’ve chosen the category of yellow tea for our brewing–in particular, Meng Ding Huang Ya (Yellow Buds). This gives us an opportunity to discuss one of the rarest categories of tea that exist. Skip ahead to 5:40 if you prefer to observe the demonstration of brewing with a gaiwan without the educational background on yellow tea.
Some General Things About Yellow Tea
Yellow tea is a category of tea. It refers to a particular way of processing the tea that involves repeatedly frying the tea to remove some of the moisture found in the leaves followed by wrapping the tea leaves in cloth or paper. Frying the tea in a hot wok or pan is used to arrest the oxidation in green tea, but in the case of yellow tea, the leaves are hand fried and removed while they are still warm and remain wet. In fact, it’s estimated that only about 30-40% water is lost. The leaves will then be wrapped in cloth or paper. They will be left wrapped for a few hours, or in some cases, overnight. This process of frying and wrapping the leaves will be repeated several times.
This category of tea is rare because the process is time-consuming and the technique involved is complicated. In fact, although the number of teas that fall under the heading of yellow tea are small (around four), we have lost one yellow tea to history. This tea was called Huo Shan Huang Ya and hailed from Anhui province. They have since switched to producing green tea. Creating yellow tea is an involved and tedious process!
About Meng Ding (Where Yellow Buds Hail From)
Meng Ding is located in Sichuan Province and is known for a lengthy tea history dating back at least as far back as 2,000 years when tea is believed to have been first cultivated by humans.
Meng Ding Huang Ya made primarily of early spring tea buds off the top of tea bushes, so it is far more optimal to drop the temperature for the brewing of this tea to somewhere around 160 degrees. The first infusion should last about 2 minutes. You can drink directly from the gaiwan by sweeping some the leaves to the opposite side you drink from and using the gaiwan lid to prevent the hold the leaves in place.