Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Secrets of Mengding Huangya (Yellow Buds)-The Rare Chinese Yellow Tea

In a poem Qin and Tea from Baijuyi, a famous poet in Tang Dynasty wrote: with respect to Qin music, the most famous one is Lushui, as for tea, Mengshan is an old friend. Mengding Huangya(Yellow Bud) is from Mengshan(also called Mengding Mountain) of Mingshan County, Sichuan province. Since Tang Dynasty it has been widely known that Mengding tea was as precious as water from Yangzi River. The real Mengding tea has always been precious because Mengding Mountain is usually surrounded by mist and clouds throughout the year. Mengding Mountain is located in the territory of Ya'an City, Sichuan Province, southwest of Sichuan basin. High in the north and low in the south, it is about 10 km long and 4 km wide. Shaped like lotus, Mengding Mountain has five peaks, and Shangqingfeng is the top one with 1456 meters above sea level. Most tea plantations lie about 1200 meters above sea level. Each year around spring equinox when peach trees are in full blossom it is the time for picking tea leaves. 

When it comes to Mengding tea, we’d better mention Mengding Huangya, which is yellow tea. The biggest difference between yellow tea and green tea lies in the piling process. After fixation, it is wrapped with a specialized thick paper, and then undergoes the stack-cover process. As for Mengding Huangya the processing techniques will be comparatively complicated. It can be fully manual and semi-automatic. 

Mengding Huangya is made through the process of fixation, initial wrapping, second-time frying, second-time wrapping, third-time frying, stacking, fourth-time frying, and baking.

The difference of the raw material of fully manual Huangya and semi-automatically-made Huangya is as follows:

As for fully manual Huangya, only single robust bud is plucked as raw material, while for semi-automatically-made Huangya, single bud is picked out among all the plucked fresh leaves.  

Fully manual Huangya need to be fermented three times after manual fixation. Each time tea of about six to seven Liang is wrapped up with bamboo-made coarse paper and fermented for 24 hours at the temperature of around 40 degrees Celsius. The paper should be tasteless and absorptive. During this period, tea makers need to open the bag to check the color and moisture and stir to enable it to heat evenly from time to time. After 24 hours, the tea needs to be scattered, heated, and then wrapped up again with coarse paper to ferment for another 24 hours. For the third 24 hours, the tea needs to be fermented as a whole. After the first fermentation the tea is fresh and fragrant, and for the second time it becomes fragrant and sweet. During this process the experience of tea makers plays a big role.

With respect to semi-automatically-made Huangya, after fixation with machine the three-time wrapping and piling process are finished by hand. It takes 3 to 4 days.   

The techniques of Mengding Huangya making today derive from the tribute tea to the emperor in Qing Dynasty. It was recorded in Minshan County Annals that in a temple some monks were making tribute tea. Firstly they picked out the finest tender bud, and then baked it in a new pot with fire. But the fire was too fierce, and it easily got burned. Therefore they wrapped it up in paper, and then put the package in a hot pot for some time until the tea was half-withered. And later on they began to roll and dry it. After all these procedures some of the tea buds turned dry and yellowish or dark black, and could not become tributes. However, the tea-makers might think it was a pity to throw away those a bit yellow ones which could not become tributes, and hence gradually they were developed into Mengding Huangya nowadays. 

The photos of dried tealeaves, liquor and brewed tealeaves of the semi-automatically-made Mengding Huangya:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Difference Between Tie Guan Yin Oolong(Iron Goddess) And Huang Jin Gui Oolong(Golden Osmanthus)

Some of our customers told us it wasn't easy to tell apart Tie Guan Yin Oolong(Iron Goddess) and Huang Jin Gui Oolong(Golden Osmanthus). In fact,  some people who have been in tea business for many years are even confused by them. It is very common that Huang Jin Gui Oolong is sold as Tie Guan Yin intentionally or unintentionally. To be professional, you need to learn about them. Here we will let you know the difference between them.

At first, you should know that Tie Guan Yin Oolong is made of tealeaves harvested from tea cultivar named Tie Guan Yin while Huang Jin Gui is Huang Jin Gui cultivar. The two cultivars both originated from Anxi, Fujian, China. Now, they are widely planted in Anxi as well as other Chinese tea producing areas.  They both rank among the four most famous Anxi Oolong along with Ben Shan and Mao Xie. Tie Guan Yin cultivar belongs to shrub while Huang Jin Gui belongs to small tree(arbor).  Huang Jin Gui usually sprouts in the Mid- April, the cultivar sprouting earliest in Anxi, every year, about 20 days earlier than Tie Guan Yin.  Tie Guan Yin is commonly only used to make oolong tea while Huang Jin Gui is also used to make green tea and black tea except oolong tea.

You can easily find the difference between the fresh tealeaves of Huang Jin Gui and Tie Guan Yin.

The first photo is of Tie Guan Yin and the second is of Huang Jin Gui.  The fresh leaf of Tie Guan Yin is kinda fat with a smooth and even borderline while that of Huang Jin Gui is thinner and longer.

Compare the brewed tealeaves. It is also obvious.

The first two photos are of Tie Guan Yin and the last is of Huang Jin Gui.

 The Core Characteristic:

Tie Guan Yin Oolong (Iron Goddess):  The dried tea is heavy in dark green. The taste is complex and thick. The brewed tealeaves is elastic, fat and bright.

Huang Jin Gui Oolong (Golden Osmanthus):  The dried tea is light in yellowish green. When brewed, it smells like juicy peach or osmanthus flower. The brewed tealeaves are thin and long.

Anyway, the best way is to make comparison tasting for several time. You would know well about them.


A cross was mentioned between a Ti Kuan Yin cultivar and the Huang Jin Gui cultivar in the Linkedin group where the article was discussed. I think it was probably Huang Guan Yin(Gold Kuan Yin). the newest member of Fujian Oolong family, is a cross-bred/hybrid tea varietal developed by the Tea Research Institute, Fujian Academy of Agricultural in 1980s with an attempt to let it have the good qualities of both Tie Guan Yin and Huang Jin Gui. Huang Guan Yin(Yellow Goddess of Mercy) has been widely grown in the Wuyi and Anxi regions since 1990. Now, here i showed more photos of them for your reference: