Review: Mark T. Wendell Huo Shan Yellow Sprouting Tea

Mark T. Wendell, Yellow Tea Add comments
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Mild, sweet and refreshing, this is a good candidate for a quiet contemplative cup. I really appreciated the complex dance between fruity and vegetal tones. "
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.1/10
Other Teaviews: Dan gave it 7.5/10, Katie gave it 9.2/10, Shaiha gave it 8.8/10
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This is my first time sampling a yellow tea and I'm really looking forward to it. Yellow teas are quite rare, partly due to the skill required to process them. They are characterized by a short oxidization period that leads to a slight yellowing of the leaf. Otherwise they are prepared much like a green tea. This particular offering comes from China's Anhui province. The slender trios of buds and leaves look and smell a lot like a white tea. The downy covering on the buds is still intact, giving them a pretty silver hue. Their aroma is a mixture of warm hay and honey.

I'm not too comfortable with the brewing instructions MTW recommends, heating the water to a boil and then cooling it for a certain period of time. I prefer directly aiming for a specific temperature in order to not lose the oxygen that would otherwise be released by boiling. The oxygen's reaction with various compounds in the tea makes for a more flavourful cup. So I steeped a generous teaspoonful of leaves in 8 ounces of filtered water heated to 80 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes. The resulting liquor is a clear pale yellow. There's a faint fruit and honey scent to it, but it's very mild. The flavour profile is an interesting combination of buttery grassy greens and sweet stone fruit notes. While it's very hot, there's an interesting peppery edge present as well. The grass and fruit aftertaste lingers for a while, being the least subtle part of the sip. There is also a refreshing mineral quality that develops over time. The mouth feel thickens as the tea cools, making for a silky smooth cup.

After 4 minutes, a second steep makes for another captivating but subtle cup. Vanilla peach and nectarine notes sweeten the cup over top of a faint vegetal ground. This infusion is more flavourful but less complex. The tea has a thick, syrupy feel to it that leaves the inside of my mouth feeling slippery.

I steeped the leaves for a third time for 5 and a half minutes. The cup is slightly rougher in feel at this point, with a more important mineral component. There is still a sweet and grassy dimension to the cup but it's starting to fade. The distinct but elusive papaya notes that have appeared are a plus in my books.

Mild, sweet and refreshing, this is a good candidate for a quiet contemplative cup. I really appreciated the complex dance between fruity and vegetal tones. However, being quite pricey, I'm not sure I love this tea enough to buy it for myself. Fans of subtle white teas wanting to splurge would do well to check this one out.

Visit Mark T. Wendell Teas for more information on this tea and many more from their extensive product catalogue.

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