Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Xue Hao Snow Tips Yellow Tea • 雪毫黃茶

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Browsing The Chinese Tea Shop for something new, I was intrigued by Xue Hao Snow Tips Yellow Tea. I'd not come across Chinese yellow tea before and was curious how it compared with Korean yellow tea.

When the parcel arrived, it was the first one I opened. The first thing that was obvious was that it was not going to be anything like Korean yellow tea, at all... The leaves were tiny, coiled, and full of fine white hairs. It looked nearly identical to Bi Lo Chun, except for a lighter, slightly yellow colour.

From what I gathered, it's harvested and produced in much the same way, as well, using only the tiniest buds of early spring. The one element of difference between yellow and green tea is that after they are withered and quickly heated to stop the enzymes from further changing the leaves, the process known as "kill-green", yellow tea is gently wrapped in cloth and left to sit in its own warmth, drawing more aroma and flavour from the leaves and giving them their yellowish tint.

I always love the thrill of opening an unknown tea and getting the first, fresh scent of the leaves. This one was very interesting, fresh, sharp, with a distinct lemon zest and cocoa aroma.

Deciding it best to treat it as a green tea, I gave it a slightly longer infusion with not too hot water. The result was a pale, yet bright yellow brew, speckled with tea down. The taste was very clear and refreshing. Not surprisingly, it tasted much like a fine Bi Lo Chun, with a distinct nutty bitterness, but the lemon-cocoa aroma of the leaves came through very nicely to give it a unique complexity that, in my opinion, made it slightly more enticing.

The ultra fine quality of the buds required to make yellow tea results in a very small harvest each year, making this a rather difficult tea to find. It seems I may have got a hold of the last bit from The Chinese Tea Shop, as the site was sold out when I returned to read more about it. But, if you ever come across any, I highly recommend it. (Or, if you happen to be in Korea in the next little bit, come over and I'll share a pot with you! I just can't guarantee I'll be keeping it for long. ;) )







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