Review: Canton Tea Co. Huo Shan Huang Ya

Canton Tea Co., Yellow Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Like all yellow teas, this was a stubborn, flighty maiden with a disagreeable temperament. But once her needs were met, she was the best tea love a tongue could have."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Samantha gave it 7.5/10, Sophie gave it 9.5/10
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Yellow tea is characterized as a type of tea somewhere in between green and white. The process is more akin to green tea, save for the longer drying time after steaming (for which the leaves turn yellow) and the slight oxidation it undergoes. Huang Ya is like the Bai Mu Dan of the yellow tea family tree, seconded only to Jun Shan Yinzhen in rarity and character. The type is named for Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) in Anhui Province, China - one of two types of tea with that delineation.

To date, I’ve tried Jun Shan Yinzhen twice and a Huang Ya once. I don’t quite recall if it was a Huo Shan or Meng Ding, but I do remember liking it a heckuva lot more than Jun Shan. The latter, I thought, spinached rather quickly. Huang Ya possessed a more peppery, robust flavor along the lines of some deeper Chinese green. I hoped this Canton Tea yellow approached it. The leaves themselves looked like the Huang Ya I had. They were fat, green bean-like rolled leaves with a “salted almonds” aroma – pleasant and nowhere near vegetal.

Brewing instructions called for 1-to-2 teaspoons in 75C (167F) water with a two-to-three-minute steep. I couldn’t quite recall what approach I’d used for the other Huang ya, but that sounded about right. I heated water to about 165F-ish, and steeped 1 tsp. in 8oz for two-and-a-half minutes.

The first cup didn’t color at all; the water looked just as clear as it had before. The scent was also understated, revealing nothing of the peppery aroma I hoped for. Flavor suffered a similar fate – only a slight nuttiness to go along with the “warm water” sensation. A second steep at three minutes faired a little better with a stronger nut-sweet profile but still light years removed from what I was expecting.

Not one to admit defeat so easily, I went with a new batch of leaves and tried it at 1 heaping teaspoon in 8oz of 170F water, steeped for a full three minutes. This time the liquor did my bidding, coloring to a faint yellow shared by many in the white tea family. An aroma of mildly cooked greens, yams, and almonds was distinguishable – faint but expected. To my relief, the flavor was what I remembered – a delicate, nutty brew with a sweet finish.

Like all yellow teas, this was a stubborn, flighty maiden with a disagreeable temperament. But once her needs were met, she was the best tea love a tongue could have. I likened the experience to a spring-picked Long Jing – very “green” but a lot going on.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Huo Shan Huang Ya, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff
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