A Comprehensive Guide to Yunnan Tea
There is no denying that China produces some of the best tea in the world.
Thus, if you have been doing your research on these premium blends, it is likely that Yunnan tea has come across your radar.
However, despite its prized flavor and characteristics, it can be difficult to unlock any information about this tea.
So, if you want to gain a better understanding of it, consider the details below:
What is Yunnan Tea?
There is some confusion about what Yunnan tea actually is.
This is because Yunnan province is well-known for its tea.
Thus, blends such as pu’erh tea also grow in Yunnan.
However, when most people refer to “Yunnan tea”, they are referring to dianhong black tea.
“Dian” is the shortened version of Yunnan, while “hong” means red – the color of the brew produced by this tea.
Now, there are various types and grades of dianhong tea.
However, as far as quality goes, it can be considered some of the best black tea blends around.
Varieties of Yunnan Black Tea
This type of tea is sometimes referred to as Gong Fu tea.
Here, the whole buds and leaves are plucked.
The more premium versions will be processed by hands, followed by drying over charcoal.
Cheaper versions will be exposed to electric dryers.
Higher quality congou leaves will maintain their distinct shape, while the lower quality ones will be cut up into smaller portions.
Broken Black Tea (Hong Sui Cha)
This tea is almost exclusively for the foreign market and is exported out of China.
It tends to be mixed with other cheaper teas and has a strong, robust taste.
On its own, this kind of Yunnan tea can be rather bitter.
Golden Yunnan Tea
The most sought after dianhong tea is the Yunnan golden tips.
As the name suggests, these tea leaves have notable golden-hued tips and will often have very little black.
The taste and aroma of this tea is far more delicate, almost sweet.
These tea leaves can be rather expensive.
What Does Yunnan Tea Taste Like?
The lower grades of Yunnan tea are quite like most other black teas.
Thus, they are dark, robust, and have some astringency.
The golden tipped Yunnan tea leaves, though, have a very pleasant taste.
Along with the typical malty flavor, this tea carries a notable floral flavor as well.
It isn’t all that astringent and can even be sweet.
Be aware that some people can find this tea a bit too mild.
How is Yunnan Tea Grown?
One of the most notable aspects of Yunnan tea is how it is grown.
As all the tea producing regions in Yunnan stand at elevations of between 1200 and 2000 meters, it is classified as a high elevation tea.
It is this location – along with the climate produced by the area – that results in such a unique and delicious tea.
The location also means that Yunnan teas may have a number of health benefits for you here.
This is because this tea is found to have a higher catechin level.
Thus, the antioxidant potential may be greater.
Needless to say, the exact content can vary from one garden or estate to another.
How to Brew Dianhong Tea
The water for these tea leaves should be hot – between 194°F and 212°F.
Thus, freshly boiled water will do.
The tea leaves can be steeped in the water for between 2 to 5 minutes.
To avoid astringency, don’t allow the leaves to steep for too long.
With higher quality dianhong tea, you can re-steep the leaves a few times after the initial cup.
Selecting Dianhong Tea
As mentioned, the golden tipped dianhong tea can be more expensive than its cheaper counterparts.
Therefore, you have to be careful when selecting this particular type of tea.
In many instances, you have to balance the quality with the price.
Otherwise, you could end up paying a hefty amount for a very small amount of Yunnan tea.
To avoid this, focus on tea leaves that have a significant amount of gold, but still have enough of black portions to keep the price low.
If you don’t mind compromising the quality even further, you can buy premium Dianhong teabags for a reasonable price.
This is what you need to know about Yunnan tea – it has many unique properties and attributes. It is something that you should try, if you get the chance.
Dr. Dheena Sadik
Consultant Nutritionist and Dietician
Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. However, her love for tea began long before she understood the health benefits of tea. Growing up in Sri Lanka, Dheena had the privilege of being surrounded by the world-famous Ceylon tea. This is what got her started on her exploration of the various types of tea. She has now extensively tasted and examined teas from all over the world.