Posted by: ben | April 5, 2009

life in yellow

yellow-buds-header(title with apologies to Polysics)

Ben: We’ve really enjoyed playing around with our Crate o’ Adagio but we’ve still got loads of other teas to try. Jing tea were recently very kind to us on their blog and we thought, well, why not return the complement? What with it being nice and sunny out, we felt like a nice, sunny tea. Jing’s Huo Mountain Yellow Buds yellow tea seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Before trying, it’s another head-scratcher – yellow tea?! Wha?! Now, luckily, Jing’s website has loads of information on tea brewing and history. They tell us that when making yellow tea

Processing is similar to green tea. However, after withering, the tea is quickly fired at a high temperature, wrapped in a cow skin paper and then dried slowly over warm charcoal. This removes the grassy, vegetal taste present in most green teas.

So it’s like green tea but more refined, I think. This makes it sound like the difference between filtered and triple-filtered vodka. Oh boy!

The leaves as they appear from the bag

The leaves as they appear from the bag

Dan: As usual, it’s the smell that hit me first. It’s glorious. It’s as simple as that. The first whiff of the big, crunchy leaves awaiting infusion will roar through your nostrils, leaving a gorgeous, sweet hazel tea aroma. It’s not as strong a smell as some of the other teas I’ve tried recently, but as my hayfever is starting to kick in now, I fear some of the power may have been lost on me. Anyway, enough about the smell. What you want to know is how it tastes.

It’s not a subtle flavour, as it instantly leaps all over your tastebuds, but it is still a light taste. It’s not going to make you recoil in delight, or horror; instead it chooses to make it’s presence known by bursting in and sitting itself down with a kind of finality about it. It’s here, and it’s staying. The hazel scent of the dry leaves is carried over into the tea, and it has a kind of sweetness to it, but that’s about all there is to the flavour. It’s quite pleasant, and works well as calming, relaxing drink, but can’t really hold as a regular brew. It’s drinkable, and unlike some other teas, it doesn’t really develop as you drink it. However, that works well, as you don’t really need it do anything more than be its assertive, friendly self.

Ben: The leaves themselves were a little odd. The green teas I’ve tried before have leaves that look much like grass – they feel freshly cut and have a very rubbery kinda give to them. Here, though, the leaves are very brittle, like dried rosemary. Putting them in my infuser was a pain as I didn’t want them to snap. A bit of selective leaf inspection got me enough smaller leaves to brew

The very yellow tea

The very yellow tea

The liquid as it brews is very pale, probably the palest tea we’ve made so far. The liquid is where the variety must get its name – it’s a very calm, relaxed colour. The smell is surprisingly, very much like cut grass. Now, lots of teas get described as smelling like wet, cut grass and most of the time that’s just a rubbish approximation. Here, the tea really does smell like wet, cut grass!

And the taste?

I hate to do this again but it’s really, really lovely. My initial hope came true! It’s like a green tea but the smoothest, freshest green tea imaginable. In fact, my previous favourite – teapigs’ popcorn tea – now feels crude in comparison. There’s no comparison I can draw – it’s not like honey, it’s not like smoke, it’s not like wet woodland – it is the most amazing green tea you’ll ever try.

Are you still reading? Seriously, go and order some!

Ben and Dan were drinking Jing’s Huo Shan Yellow Buds, available at ¬£6.00 for 50g, or as a part of their Tea Explorer Set.

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