Yellow Tea 2021
The most famous of the rare yellow teas. Unique highly floral sugarcane aroma and very complex flavor with mineral undertones and notes of sweet corn. Very young, needle-like tea buds that are high in antioxidants. Made only from Junshan Island’s heirloom tea bushes. A remarkable yellow tea that has all the rich aroma and nutrition of a green tea, but a gentler character without the grassy edge.
- Tea Origin
- Junshan Island, Yueyang City, Hunan Province, China
- Tea Bush
- Junshandao Quntizhong (Junshan Island Heirloom Tea Bush)
- Tea Master
- Gao Xiaozu
- Harvest Time
- Late March
- Picking Standard
- One bud
Junshan Yinzhen is the most famous yellow tea in China and is historically a tribute tea. The climate and soil it is grown in create a special sweet fruit aroma and light sugarcane taste. The tea’s small growing area and the skill required to make it result in only a small quantity of authentic Junshan Yinzhen produced each year. Tea drinkers should be aware that much of the Junshan Yinzhen on the market is actually processed as green tea. It is also common for tea producers to use tea bushes brought in from other provinces. Our Junshan Yinzhen is processed using the traditional yellow tea methods, which take at least 72 hours to complete. In addition, only buds from the local quntizhong heirloom tea bushes are used so you can appreciate the true and original quality of this unique yellow tea.
Dongting Lake, which is the 2nd largest lake in China, helps release floods from the Yangzi River. Junshan is a small island within this lake, measuring about 1 kilometer long and 0.7 kilometers wide. There is a creation legend for this island that dates back to 4,000 years ago. An emperor was fighting in this area and died in battle. Two of his favorite lovers came to his funeral, but their boat flipped over in Dongting Lake. The two concubines themselves became the mountains that form Junshan Island to forever accompany their lover. There is a park on the island celebrating this myth. Junshan Island is now home to the tea research center of Hunan Province, which takes advantage of the many varieties of tea bushes that grow there. The tea institute was built in 1952 and retains use of approximately one-fourth of the island for research.
Tea picking season is very short here, only lasting about ten days from the end of March to early April. The picking standards for Junshan Yinzhen are extremely stringent. Workers pick only tea buds that are about 3 cm tall, not too old but not too young. The tea buds must not be “empty,” they choose only the full, luscious tea buds that will open to become 4-5 tea leaves. Skinny buds will only become 1-2 leaves. They never pick on rainy or dewy days, and do not pick buds that have been hurt by bugs. The tea master will check to make sure the tea pickers do not have long fingernails, which can help make picking leaves very fast, but will adversely affect the oxidation of the leaves. Besides tea, this island also grows a medicinal herb, he shao wu, which perhaps lends something to the tea’s distinctive flavor.
After the tea has been picked, tea makers let the tea breathe under shade, evenly piled on bamboo sheets for 5-6 hours. The leaves will lose about 5% of their moisture. 300 grams of fresh leaves are fried at a time on a shallow, 20 degree sloped wok. The temperature of the wok is not as hot as green tea, only about 120 Celsius. The tea maker will fry the leaves for about five minutes, and then let the temperature of the leaves start to drop. They will sweep the leaves into a 40-centimeter thick layer on woven bamboo trays. The trays are shaken to remove dust and broken leaves and disperse heat, the leaves are then left to cool for 30 minutes.
Once several batches are complete, tea makers use thick yellow paper to wrap single packets of warm leaves, each weighing about a kilogram. They use special wooden cabinets to store the wrapped packages of tea in, which keep it warm and encourage very slow oxidation. The leaves will stay in the cabinets for about 40 hours. After 24 hours have passed they will mix the leaves for even oxidation before rewrapping them and returning them to storage. After about 40-48 hours (depending on the humidity of the air) they will open the leaves back up and roast them over 50 degree Celsius charcoal for about an hour. Every 15 minutes tea makers will stir the tea leaves. Then leaves are cooled by placing them back on the bamboo trays. After the leaves are cooled they will pack the leaves up again and put them back in the cabinets for another 20 hours. The tea master must be very skilled to judge the state of oxidation and know how long the tea should rest in the cabinets. The tea buds will change from a green to golden yellow and the aroma starts to develop. When the tea master judges the tea to be ready, the leaves will be removed from the cabinets and roasted 500 grams at a time above 50 Celsius charcoal until the tea is completely dry. When the tea is finished, about 95% of the moisture is removed. Once the tea is done, the buds are sorted by hand to remove any broken pieces. They only save the whole, beautiful tea buds.
No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.
Junshan Yinzhen brewing guidelines
Teaware: 12 oz. glass or porcelain pot
Amount: 1 Tbs of tea leaves
Water: 185°F filtered water
Infusion: First infusion at least 2 minutes. The leaves are good for 5 infusions. Add a little more time for each subsequent infusion.