One of the few remaining stalwarts true to the discipline of yellow tea craft, genuine Huang Ya from Meng Ding 蒙顶黄芽 "yellow tips from the misty peak" is a rare treat we are proud to serve.
Yellow tea craft sees a very similar production to green tea, yet a fermentation step midway through its processing requiring skill and experience renders this tea distinctive as well as nearly impossible to produce on a mass scale. For this reason, many corner-cutting imitations are to be found on the market.
Briefly, the production differences notable between green tea and yellow tea are:
A lower heat sha-qing or pan-frying, deactivating most but not all the enzymes responsible for oxidation of the leaves.
Still warm and moist off of the wok, the sprouts are then wrapped in a special paper and placed for a specific length of time in an insulated and humidity controlled box. This step mimics a kind of flash-oxidation to render the leaves nuttier and sweeter, yet since they are without oxygen in this anaerobic environment, this step is technically considered a fermentation. This is called 闷黄 Mèn huáng “covering yellow” and differs from 发酵 Fāxiào “to sour” which refers to the oxidation that red tea undergoes. Confusingly, 发酵 Fāxiào often gets automatically translated to “fermentation”!
The buds are then re-fired in the wok & wrapped while still warm to ferment in its incubator. This wok to box process is completed up to a total of 4x with up to 72 hrs of fermentation. For adequate yellowing, the tea producer must closely observe moisture content, ensuring that the intermittent pan-frying maximally coaxes out flavor and aroma, yet doesn't dry out the leaves as to fully denature the enzymes so the fermentation can continue. The tea is then lightly charcoal baked and dried.
This tea was harvested on March 12th, at an elevation around 1200 meters, using the cultivar Mingshan Number 9.