Mengding Yellow Tips First Harvest 2022 明前蒙顶黄芽
March 17, 2022
Mengding Mountain, Ya'an, Sichuan
The esteemed Mengding Mountain 蒙顶山, located in the remote city of Ya’an in the Sichuan Province, is a significant site in regards to the history of tea culture in China. The cultivation of tea on Mengding dates back more than 2000 years. The teas collected from this mountain have served as Tribute Teas to Emperors for over 1000 years, spanning five Dynasties: Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing.
Mengding Mountain is the highest mountain range in Sichuan Province. It has 5 peaks, with the highest standing in the clouds 4800 ft above sea level. Due to its altitude it receives a high amount of rain compared to other mountains, and the peaks remain covered in mist and fog all year round – Mengding is nearly always wet. This aqueous climate, combined with the unique red sandstone in its soil, make it an ideal environment for tea trees, which favour a great deal of moisture, but require good drainage. Soil like this comes very slowly, from the gradual weathering of ancient rocks – there are few undisturbed places old enough to offer such perfect conditions for tea.
Yellow teas have been prized as Tribute Teas, and favored by emperors, for over one thousand years. Crafting yellow tea requires an intense amount of focused and meticulous work, which, although once highly valued, has meant that the number of dedicated artisans who make Yellow tea has gradually dwindled. This prized, in-between category of tea is now extremely rare, to the point of being considered endangered.
Yellow teas are semi-oxidized teas that fall in the delicate space between green tea and oolong: they are oxidized slightly more than green teas, and slightly less than oolong teas. But the distinction runs deeper. The oxidation of yellow tea differs fundamentally from that of green, oolong and black teas, which all go through enzymatic oxidation; a result of enzymes in the tea leaves reacting with oxygen in the air. Yellow tea, however, goes through hydrothermal oxidation; a result of trapped water vapour and heat during its processing.This allows for slight fermentation to occur; something both essential and unique to Yellow teas.
The mysterious Mengding Huangya “Yellow Tips” was prized as one of the Tribute Teas to the emperor in the Tang Dynasty. This traditionally crafted Yellow tea from the Mengding Mountains went through 4 rounds of the 焖黄, or “smothering” process, unique to Yellow teas, which in this case took over 100 hours, spread over 5 days.
With this amount of focused attention and care, it will not be surprising that the resulting tea is remarkable.The dried leaves have floral, nutty and buttery aromatics. On the palate, it is smooth and rounded, with a full body. The taste is high in umami, which overlays comforting notes of biscotti, toasted almonds and butter cookies. When brewed stronger, with either a higher water temperature or steeped for longer, this tea bears a slight resemblance to the taste of matcha. It is strange, and wonderful.
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|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||8