Yellow tea was traditionally made in Anhui province and is now almost a lost tradition. One often reads that it was a rare, high quality tea reserved for the emperor. This is actually a myth; yellow tea was a workers’ tea enjoyed by many.
Anhui Province is known for it’s green teas, some which are grown around the famous Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) as well as Keemun Black (Red) tea from Quimen. Yellow tea is also made here although much of what is marketed as such is actually green tea.
Crafting Yellow Tea
First the leaves are pan fired. Two woks are used after the leaves are brought in from the field to stop the oxidation. Each wok is heated to a different temperature by the amounts of wood added to the fire underneath. One wok is used for “sha qing”, killing the green (which stops the oxidization process). The other wok is used to keep the leaves warm, without overcooking, is preparation for the rolling process.
Bamboo baskets are used to slowly dry the tea leaves over several days. This allows for more oxidation than a green tea. Yellow tea, when you can find it today, usually is just a green tea made up of very young, spring picked leaves. Charcoal is placed on a stand inside the bottom basket, and heats the top basket holding the leaves. The leaves are tended very carefully and turned every ten minutes or so, so the drying process is evenly distributed. In the evening the leaves are covered, and the next morning the process is repeated until all the moisture in the leaves are gone.