This type of tea is still fairly rare and is treated like gold in our family. Almost completely unknown to the western world just a few years ago it is now gaining more popularity and more types are making it into the stores.
What makes Yellow teas different than Green teas is an additional step in the processing called sweltering. The leaves get a nice cozy wrap, normally some sort of cloth, which gives them the unique yellow color. The result is a tea which is more mellow and less vegetal that some of the green teas. It has an amazing rounded and balanced fruit flavor with an amazing mouth feel. There are very few true yellow tea masters left who know the process of making this kind of tea so there is the risk that this art might disappear.
The most popular yellow tea (and relative easy to buy) is Hao Shan. It is a great yellow tea with all its benefits and characteristics. You will not be disappointed. My personal favourite is Jun Shan Yin Zhen. It is a very rare and amazing tea from the Chinese island of Junshan Island (in the middle of Dong Ting Lake in the Hunan province). It is one of the 10 Chinese famous teas. A few years ago only 0.5 kg (1 pound) was produced per year (!) , now the production has gone up due to its popularity. Made entirely from buds, or silver needles, its flavor is quite spectacular. If I can get a hold of a few grams of this tea I (as well Ms. Tea) savor every single sip.
I also have a favorite Iced tea based on yellow tea. An amazing flavor mixed with mountain herbs, a truly refreshing cold tea. You can find it in most supermarkets in Germany. Yellow tea is also great for blending and flavoring. In one of my classes I made a Strawberry Yellow Tea, mmm….
The challenge with this type of tea is that it is difficult to authenticate true yellow tea as so little real tea is produced. The best is to find a large reputable tea retailer who you can trust that you will get what you are paying for as yellow tea is not cheap. It is mostly produced in China (a few years ago only in China). I had the privilege to taste a Darjeeling yellow tea and it is quite spectacular. Brewing yellow tea you should use 85 C – 90 C water (185 F – 194 F) and steep for quite a bit (8-10 min depending on the leaf type).