Maybe it’s something to do with the onset of Autumn, and a subconscious desire to hold on to the fading greenery outside a while longer, but I’ve recently gone on a bit of a lighter tea buying splurge – Japanese greens (Gyokuro, Genmaicha, Bancha, and Sencha), a Korean Sejak, Anji Bai Cha, and the subject of this post, a Guang Xi Huang Ya.
Regular readers will not exactly drop their teacups in surprise when I reveal that this was yet another purchase from perennial favourite House of Tea.
As the name suggests, this is a yellow tea made with a high percentage of buds (“Huang” – yellow; “Ya” – buds/”sprouts“), from the Autonomous Region of Guang Xi. The tea was hand plucked, in the spring of 2017.
Let’s get the blindingly obvious out of the way first – these leaves don’t come from any of the territories usually associated with this type of tea, namely Anhui, Sichuan, or Henan provinces. I wouldn’t consider buying anything labelled as a Pu-erh that was made outside of Yunnan, so why did I buy this tea?
Well, I guess it was down to a mixture of trust in the dealer, curiosi-tea, and being caught up in the middle of a buying frenzy…
That thar dry leaf sure is marty purdy, right up there with Anji Bai Cha in the “stare adoringly at before steeping” stakes. Smells good too, sweet and malty.
|Weight of dry leaf:||7 grams|
|Infusion style:||Gong-fu / Asian|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml glass teapot|
|No. & duration:||a 1st. steeping @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 45 seconds for a total of 9 steepings|
The first infusion gave a deceptively pale liquor that was delightfully creamy, with a taste that instantly reminded me of honey nut cornflakes. The body and lingering aftertaste together gave the impression of having just sipped old-school full-fat milk.
The tea had not the slightest trace of bitterness, thanks presumably to the magic of the special “Men Huang” process, where after the “kill-green” pan frying stage which halts oxidation the leaves are covered (“smothered”) with a damp cloth. This vital step not only gives the leaves their special flavour, but also results in their wonderful colour, too.
That said, a very slight hint of astringency popped up on the third steeping, but it never rose beyond a background presence, and in no way detracted from the milky, nutty, malty sweetness.
Just as with the Huo Shan Huang Ya I sampled about a year ago, this tea had a good bit of staying power, 9 steepings to be precise, not too bad at all for something closely related to a green tea. I have read, though, that the Men Huang process gives yellow tea some of the properties of a post-fermented tea (hei cha), so perhaps this explains the tea’s longevity in the teapot.
Good stuff, then, all things considered. I’m going to enjoy drinking this tea as we enter the cooler, darker, back-end of the year. A sweet reminder of greener days…