What-Cha’s Huangshan Yellow Sun Yellow Tea 2014

Origin: Huangshan County, Anhui Province, China

I originally thought this was a tea from Zhejiang, in fact my sample was mislabeled, Alistair of What-Cha was kind enough to send me a sample of this before he posted the tea to his site, so when I was drinking this I thought it was a tea from Zhejiang and it is interesting that it is similar to What-Cha’s Wild Growing Long Jing. In my initial notes I listed this as the dark sister to the Long Jing because while it has some minor similarities to it, it feels very different. They both have an interesting chocolate-y aspect to them, but the Long Jing falls on the green side of the spectrum and this Yellow Sun is on the darker/roasted side.

While I am a little disappointed that this isn’t from the same place as the Long Jing, I was not disappointed, but I am a little curious if the initial confusion didn’t color me. Which brings up greater questions like would I feel the same way about this tea if I tried it again (pretty much yes, I cut some of my notes out), how would I describe this tea if I tasted this blind, among many others. While the misinformation did cause me to be a little more retrospective about drinking tea, I am not going to go that in depth in that, but I feel I should describe my normal tea drinking process before I go on. Generally when I am sampling a tea I prefer larger samples (10g) since I use half to prepare the tea take some brief notes and then use the remainder the next day and try again with a clean palate (without looking at my notes). I do this to cut down on some of the more out there flavors/aromas I may have experienced, generally if I taste something strange on day one that I didn’t on day two (or vice-versa) I write it off. While I do occasionally make exceptions like with the Premium Non-Black Russian Sampler I had last year, I try to have as firm opinion as possible.

Although this brings up an interesting question, how long (or how much) should I drink a tea before I feel comfortable to write about it? An Ounce? A week? I wish I had an answer for this, but unfortunately I don’t. I’ve been drinking a lot of What-Cha’s 2013 Korean harvests lately, in fact I’ve been drinking them nearly every night before bed and I am starting to be able to distinguish incredible degrees of nuance that I didn’t in my review. I feel that I am finally starting to know this tea. Sadly because of the nature of this blog and how I buy tea I can’t amend the format of my blog without drastically reducing the amount of content I produce. I don’t imagine it would be that interesting if I posted a week’s worth of tasting notes on the same tea. Regardless I never intended for this blog to describe the definitive experience of drinking x tea, this experience has certainly made me more aware of my blind spots and acknowledge my own biases. While I never felt comfortable with the idea that this is a tea review blog, I feel equally uncomfortable with calling this a tea critique blog, this blog is something different. I Maybe a record of my early impressions…

Dry Leaves: The leaves are very dark, I’ve had quite a few yellow teas, but I hardly consider myself an expert. Some of the leaves have quite an interesting shape, towards the bottom right you’ll see a brownish green tea leaf that is shaped almost like a scythe while others are slightly twisted. They have quite an interesting scent, a little malty and chocolaty, but there is some vegetal undertones that oddly enough does not clash with the Chocolate scent.

First Steeping
Temperature: 176oF
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Chocolate and Malty
Flavor: Chocolate, Roasted Hazlenut, Vegetal, Malty and Vanilla
Tasting Notes: This was rather surprising, I did not expect Chocolate and Vanilla to work so well with Vegetal. Regardless it was quite nice, a little reminiscent of an aged green oolong. The liquor was rather light for how much flavor it has.

Second Steeping
Temperature: 181oF
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Malty                     
Flavor: Roasted Hazlenut, Unami, Malty and Chocolate.
Tasting Notes: The chocolate went from the dominant taste to the weakest, I was a little sad to see the vanilla disappear, I don’t often taste vanilla in an unflavored tea and it worked very well with each of the individual flavors. While the last infusion wasn’t exactly a sweet tea, the vanilla was a nice contrast to the chocolate and roasted vegetable flavors. Regardless there was an unami aspect to this infusion that I didn’t pick up last time, it was a little out of place.

This was my favorite infusion, while it was unfortunate that the vanilla was missing, I feel it is so much stronger without it. It was like a dessert without even a hint of sweetness.It was interesting that both times I tried this tea that it has vegetal notes in the initial infusion that wasn't present in the later. 

Third Steeping
Temperature: 186oF
Brewing Time: Three Minutes
Aroma: Malty
Flavor: Roasted Hazlenut, Unami and Malty
Tasting Notes: It is starting to become more of the same, while it lost the chocolate notes that were present up until now it is becoming more typical of a roasted oolong, while it isn’t exactly one note it is starting to become simpler from here on.

This was a rather interesting tea, I went in expecting a tea similar to the star of What-Cha’s store (the Long Jing), but I had a very different tea. Different in a good way. While it isn’t as spectacular as the Wild-growing Long Jing, it is quite nice. And for 50g at $9 (at the time of writing this) it is a good deal unquestionably a tea to check out. I feel that I have to mention this, when I thought it was a tea from Zhejiang I thought it was a rather nice tea (I thought it was a nice contrast to the Long Jing) and now that I know it isn’t  I still think it is a nice tea.


Just a guy who likes tea.