Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tea Tasting Saturday #31 - Jun Shan Yin Zhen

Although I was rather sorry to say so long, oolongs, I am very interested in what the next three weeks of yellow teas will bring!

Category: Yellow Tea

Purveyor: Upton Tea

Dry leaf appearance: Very stiff olive green leaves shaped like claws. Or maybe surfboards. Reminded me very much of Silver Needles tea leaves.

Wet leaf appearance: Looked like very tiny French cut green beans.

Steeping temperature and time: 1 teaspoon of tea, 175 degrees, 3 minutes. I had to watch the water, since I've grown accustomed to boiling it to about 205 degrees.

Scent: The dry tea didn't really have much of a scent. The steeped tea had that vegetal scent I associate with greens.

Color: Pale yellow.

Flavor: This was a very enjoyable tea with a smooth flavor and an almost buttery finish. I didn't detect any astringency, and I polished off two cups of it quite quickly!

Additional notes: It wasn't until after I'd done my "observing" that I noticed Jun Shan Yin Zhen is also called "Jun Mountain Silver Needles." No wonder the leaves reminded me of Silver Needles tea! And from Michael Harney: "Plucked in the spring, the tea's sweet tips are also beloved for the way they sway vertically in a kind of dance when dropped into hot water." Yes! In fact, because I knew my water would probably be too hot, I poured the water in the pot first, cooled it to 175 degrees and then added the tea. Harney actually suggests doing it that way so you can watch the leaves dance. Aren't they pretty? I know only my fellow tea nuts devotees can appreciate something like that!

Next week's tea: Meng Ding Huang Ya


  1. Yellow tea?? I've never heard of the category 'yellow tea.' What makes a tea a yellow tea?

  2. Melanie, from reading the book it sounds like not even Michael Harney has been able to determine precisely what yellow tea is, because he's never found anyone who would let him watch it being made! He is guessing that the yellows teas are "partially fixed to keep them only somewhat green" and "likely not withered" and "probably oxidize very slowly and only partially." If even he isn't sure exactly what yellow teas are, we mere mortals probably can't expect to know for sure! But the mystery is intriguing, isn't it!

  3. I like the tea "nut" part!
    This is an interesting link regarding yellow teas:

    Another thing I like about the link is the photo. They are using a coffee/tea, by golly, I have a number of those in different sizes...just might work until I get one of those cute little glass pots like Angela has...

    What Fun!

  4. I've never heard of yellow tea either. I'll have to read that part of my Harney tea book.

  5. This is a new category of tea to me. I've never tried it, but after reading your review, I'd like to. This "tea nut" doesn't pay much attention to the agony of the leaves, but I like the reference to dancing.

  6. PS - Yes, I agree - yellow teas are a big mystery. I kind of like it that way. :-)

  7. Tea nuts, yes! Love the dancing tea.

  8. I remember reading about the dancing leaves yesterday, and it made me want to find some soon!

    FYI - if any of your readers are interested, you can get the The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea on the Kindle (my newest toy!). The info on the brewing temp etc is a bit hard to read, however.

    But now I finally have a copy, and can order some tea to play along at home soon! :)


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