Yellow tea is a distinct class of teas that belongs to the true tea family. Made from the leaves of the tea plant, yellow tea undergoes a special production process that lends a delicate flavor profile and unique yellow hue.

Yellow tea is a rare true tea that is cultivated mainly in China and difficult to find outside the country's borders. Discover the beauty of this true tea and uncover some of the best yellow teas on the market.

Yellow Tea Basics

Yellow tea is a rare true tea made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Other true tea types include white tea, green tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and black tea. Yellow tea is considered most similar to green and white teas thanks to its production process.

Yellow tea is often classified as a subsection of green tea, but it can also be classified separately as it is technically an oxidized, or fermented tea. Oftentimes, white teas such as snow buds and xue ya are also classified as yellow teas. Yellow tea is also commonly known as Chinese huangcha or in Korean as hwangcha. In Japan, yellow tea is mainly classified as a green tea.

Cultivation and Rarity

Yellow tea is cultivated almost exclusively in China. The Goomtea Estate in Darjeeling, India produced a yellow tea in 2009, which was sold by Thunderbolt tea. Russia has also produced a yellow tea known as Krasnodar gold. In recent years, Rishi tea has also offered a yellow tea, although it was created using a different production process than traditional Chinese varieties. Teavana also previously offered a Golden Dragon yellow tea with buttery and floral flavors.

In general, yellow tea is cultivated mainly in China. The main producing regions include the Yunnan, Sichuan, Zhejiang, Anhui and Hunan provinces. The tea is extremely rare and difficult to find outside of China. It's rarity means that it tends to be more expensive than other true teas and it is only produced in small batches. Yellow tea is said to have many of the same health benefits of green tea.

Yellow tea is known as a tippy tea, meaning it contains a greater portion of leaf buds. Tippy teas contain more caffeine and typically offer a delicate flavor and aroma. Tippy tea also tends to be more expensive than teas that are made using leaves rather than buds.


Yellow tea is processed similarly to white and green teas, except that it undergoes a small period of post-oxidation. The leaves are harvested from the tea plant and withered in sunlight to reduce moisture content. The leaves are then dried to prevent the enzymes in the tea leaves from oxidizing.

Yellow tea derives its name from a post-oxidation process known as yellowing. After the leaves are dried, they are drenched in water and wrapped in paper. The leaves are stored in warm, humid conditions for up to 48 hours. During this processing step, the leaves begin to turn yellow through a mild oxidation process.

After the leaves become yellow, they are shaped and dried one final time before being packaged for sale.

Best Yellow Teas

Jun Shan Yin Zhen

This type of yellow tea is also known as silver needle tea due to its delicate, spindly leaf shape. This yellow tea is produced exclusively in the Hunan province of China and specifically on Jun Shan island. The flavor of this yellow tea is similar to Bai Hao white tea. Jun shan yin zhen tea was said to be the favorite tea of Chairman Mao Zedong. According to Wikipedia, silver needle yellow tea is among China's famous teas.

Huo Shan Huang Ya

Huoshan yellow tea is cultivated in the Anhui province of China. The tea leaves are harvested from the high peaks of Mt. Huo lending a unique nutty flavor. This yellow tea has hints of sweet corn and sweet pea with a rounded taste.

Huo shan huang ya was first cultivated by the Ming Dynasty and was used as an imperial tribute tea. The tea is made using both yellow buds and leaves. The dry yellow tea leaves boast a gloriously shiny exterior and are green-yellow when brewed. This yellow tea variety offers a peppery flavor and fresh finish.

Meng Ding Huang Ya

Meng ding huang ya is cultivated in the Sichuan province of China. The tea plants grow among the slopes and peaks of Mt. Meng and have been cultivated for several thousand years. This type of yellow tea dates back to the Han Dynasty and was also used as a tribute tea. The leaves are harvested during early spring and offer a nutty flavor with a slightly grassy taste. This type of yellow tea is particularly fun to brew as the delicate leaves point straight up when infused in water.

Huang Tang

Huang tang yellow tea is made in the Zhejiang province of China. It is commonly called yellow soup thanks to its slight yellow color when brewed. This type of yellow tea contains one yellow bud and two young tea leaves.

Yellow Mu Dan

Yellow mu dan tea is produced mainly by the Jasmine Pearl tea company. This yellow tea boasts a mild and sweet flavor with hints of dried cherry and peony flowers. This yellow tea offers a potent flowery flavor that can have hints of honeysuckle and nasturtium.

How to Make Yellow Tea

There are a few guidelines you should follow to brew yellow tea properly. This type of tea is very rarely found in tea bags and tastes best when brewed using loose leaves. Yellow tea should be brewed similarly to white tea. This tea should not be brewed using boiling water as the high temperature can damage the delicate flavors. Instead, brew the tea at 158 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

The traditional brewing method involves using a gaiwan, tea cups, and tea kettle. Start by rinsing the tea cup and gaiwan with hot water. Add the yellow tea leaves to the gaiwan and heat water in a tea kettle to the recommended temperature. Pour the water into the gaiwan and steep for two to three minutes.

Discover the Best Yellow Teas

Yellow tea is a high quality rare tea that will delight tea connoisseurs and inspire new tea drinkers. Made almost exclusively in China, this tea has been served as a tribute tea and is the favorite tea of Chinese society's elite.

Yellow teas offer flavors that range from intensely floral to nutty and slightly grassy. These Chinese teas range from pale to vibrant yellow when brewed. They feature slightly silver or yellow tinged leaves and buds that add a stunning visual component to tea brewing. The best yellow tea varieties are tippy teas made using the buds of the tea plant. Try the rarest true tea with these yellow tea best sellers and discover a new world of flavor.

Tags: White Tea