My First Yellow Tea: Meng Ding Huang Ya

I am surprised it took me this long to try a yellow tea, but here we are more than four years after the start of the tea journey and I’m just now getting around to a yellow tea. This tea came from Dobra Tea house in Greenville, SC. Since I usually try not to read too much about a tea before trying it for the first time (as not to get an idea of flavors to expect), I had to kind of guess on brewing parameters, which didn’t quite work out as I will explain later.

I brewed this similar to a green tea as yellow tea is processed most similarly to green tea, so I figured that was a good place to start. I used 3 grams per 100 ml of water at 175F in a gaiwan for 15 seconds plus 5 seconds. The dry leaf had a vegetal smell but with a little hint of spices.

The first infusion was vegetal like a green tea, but it also had some added notes of both savory and sweetness. The savory was almost salty. It reminded of having edamame with soy sauce, which I enjoyed. Good start for the yellow tea.

The second and third infusions also had the sweet and salty note going on, but this time it had a different smell. It smelled like a seafood restaurant. I know fish is not a taste or smell that should be associated with tea. But it did remind me of home as I am from a beach tourist town in Florida where seafood restaurants are everywhere. It didn’t taste like fish, however, so it wasn’t as bad as feared.

At this point, I decided to go rogue. I mentioned to some tea friends who know a lot more than I do about tea that it smelled like seafood and they suggested trying it Western brewed for 2 minutes at 157F, so I did. It came out very astringent and unpleasant.

I forgot to get a picture of either the second or third infusion, so oopsies on that.

So I debated even writing this at all or scrapping it and coming back after I figured out the best brewing parameters to get the most out of this tea. I do plan to go back and try again with a more western style. My tea friends informed me that yellow tea is quite temperamental similar to sencha and needs exact parameters to be very good.

But I keep it real here. And part of that is getting it wrong. Maybe this is helpful maybe it isn’t. Best case you learn from my mistakes and brew it differently. I mean it wasn’t BAD, I still enjoyed it. But I know I didn’t get the best these leaves had to offer. If I go back and get it right, I will update this page with the parameters used.

The price on this was $9 for 1 oz. (28 grams). At 3 grams per session that’s 9 sessions in a bag. That’s $1 per session. If you do 5 infusions, that’s $.20 per serving. I think that’s a fair price.

I think yellow tea is intriguing. The sweet and sour taste combo was yummy, but I feel like there is more to be had from these leaves. If you take anything from this, it’s that yellow tea is temperamental and do some research into brewing parameters before making it. Cheers!

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