Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Yellow Tea): Tao Tea Leaf

Look at the stars!

Look how they shine for you!

And everything you do!

Yeah, they were all yellow!


Yellow. It’s the colour of my most golden memories. It’s the ‘Once upon a time, in a far off land…’ and the nostalgia for times lost… faded… flickers behind the eyes. It’s the colour of a tatami-mat room, and the stars in a clear black sky, and the firecrackers that spin and spark at our feet, and the spirits that fuel our madness, and the air… so clear… so pure… it crackles.

Yellow tea. It’s a mythical beast which I had only heard about in rumours and whispers, but despite my searching, could never track down. Tao Tea Leaf to the rescue! It’s reportedly similar to green tea, but the leaves have been allowed to yellow in the longer drying process. I can’t wait to try it!

I open the package and smell. Green… vegetal… and smoke! I expected it to smell like white tea, but it smells like bacon!

The leaves are smooth, fine needles, with a faint white fuzz. Not quite as furry as Silver Needles, nor as long.

Yellow Tea by Tao Tea Leaf

Jun Shan Yin Zhen by Tao Tea Leaf

I’m going Gongfu style on this one. I’ll start with water at 80 degrees, for 20 seconds. The tea is a pretty bright yellow!

Yellow tea in Grandma's teacup

Yellow tea in Grandma’s teacup

The taste is multi-layered. It first hits your mouth with a mellow sweetness like straw, then has a flash of vegetal green, and then there is the smoke. It really does remind me of bacon, so I wonder if it’s hickory. It’s not strong like a Lapsang Souchong, but more mellow… like when your neighbours on the next block are using their fire-pit, and every so often you catch just a whisper of the smoke as it drifts by your window.  The second infusion (30 sec.) is less smoky… more straw… very faint sweetness. There’s no bitterness or astringency, so it’s quite light… very mild! Hmmm… the smoke does linger in my mouth.

This is the perfect synthesis of all my magical memories. The straw, the smoke, the flash, the yellow… the yellow…

Look at the stars! Look how they shine for you!

THANK YOU  to Tao Tea Leaf for providing this sample!


2 thoughts on “Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Yellow Tea): Tao Tea Leaf

  1. You mentioned tatami mats and it brought back childhood memories of Japan where i first tried tea. It was of course green tea, but also included some English blacks teas too.
    Thanks for the flashback.


    • It was in Japan that I fell in love with all the varieties of tea (oolong, green, milk tea). I loved all the canned and bottled teas (no sugar) that you could buy in the vending machines… everywhere! I wish we had such a selection here in Canada, but they are all just variations on liquid sugar! Glad to ignite your memories!


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