I remember how mesmerised I felt when I saw golden tips when I was in Yunnan. It just did not make sense to me how a black tea could have such a bright golden colour. I asked a friend who has more experience in the tea industry, and she explained to me that the buds have the white fuzz and they turn into gold when processed. One needs to add this explanation that these buds were picked in early spring. Only the first flush buds and leaves are low in chlorophyll (as they were not exposed to sunlight as much as summer or autumn teas). This means that the buds can turn into golden rather than black, which gives the name to ‘black tea’ although it is known as ‘red’ (hong) tea in Chinese.
These golden buds come from Fengqing town in Yunnan and are considered the top-grade Dian Hong cha (Yunnan black tea). The masters who can process golden tips need to pay attention to various processing steps to make this tea. First, the buds need to be hand-picked carefully. They need to make sure that the buds are not damaged during withering, frying and oxidation steps. Throughout all these phases, the buds need to mix well to ensure homogeneous processing. The tea master also decides when to stop the oxidation as under or over oxidation may lead to grassiness or sourness, respectively.
This tea had neither. It had a lingering honey sweetness which was not overwhelming. Also, the expected malt flavour was there. Overall, a top black tea with a delicate and balanced taste. The seller also refers to the ‘benefits’ of this tea, claiming that it helps reduce blood fat and pressure. No proof was provided, but I thought I’d mention.
Origin: Fengqing, Yunnan
Harvest time: Spring 2020
Leaf colour: Golden buds with fuzz, occasional dark brown/black stems
Liquor colour: Deep amber/orange
Tea Aroma: Malt and fruity
Tea taste: Mellow with lingering honey sweetness and malt flavour
Place 4 g of this tea in a porcelain gaiwan and add about 100 ml water at around 90°C.
Rinse after 5 sec.
Steep for 10 seconds for the second time and increase the consecutive steeping time by 5. You can re-steep this tea about four/five times.