Last Updated on 07/26/2020 by Desmond
Guangdong is a province famous at export trade in China, and tea was exported from there to the world at the beginning. But on tea-producing, it is not as renowned as the other province like Zhejiang and Fujian. The well-know products only Phoenix Dan Cong(Oolong) and Yinghong No.9(black tea.) Da Ye Qing tea, as a local type of tea, used to be popular. Still, due to the reduced yield in recent years, it is going to be forgotten by people gradually.
What Is Da Ye Qing Tea
Da Ye Qing tea also called Guangdong Da Ye Qing. In the Chinese, it means Big Leaf Green; that name makes people confuse a lot. Because in the Chinese context, some kind of green tea, oolong, and the sunning Pu-erh tea also can be called this name. The funny thing is, Da Ye Qing does not belong to one of them; it belongs to a rare type of tea – Yellow tea.
Da Ye Qing originated in Shaoguan, Zhaoqing, and Zhanjiang city, Guangdong. It is said began in Ming Dynasty, more than 400 years from now. Here is south China, tropical climate, the annual average temperature maintained above 22℃, and got more than 1500mm precipitation. Especially in the region of Shaoguan city, geology belongs there is the Danxia landform, rich in soil nutrients, and good for the tea plants growing. The tea is made from the fresh leaves of Yunnan big leaf type Camellia Sinensis. Guangdong people are simple, so they named this tea “Big Leaf Green” simply too.
We know that Lapsang Souchong has a unique pine smoky aroma. Likewise, Da Ye Qing tea also got a strong rice crust aroma, because it was processed by special processing called Sealing Yellow. Compared with other teas, it has a distinct feature; the finished product contains tea stems. The leaves and stems of Da Ye Qing tea both need to be big, typically 10-13cm long; this is the quality standard of the product. Whether the loose leaves or the infusion, they both show yellow color and fit with the yellow tea characteristic.
How Da Ye Qing Tea Been Processing
Although the processing of yellow tea is not as complicated as the other teas like oolong tea, it still not simple. And, the processing of Da Ye Qing also has a little different from other yellow tea. The fresh leaves after picking will not be fixation immediately; they will be withering first. The different sequence of steps makes Da Ye Qing got fewer herbaceous smell. After sealing yellow, it comes stronger pure and mellow aroma.
The fresh leaves after picking will be laid on the bamboo sieves for the withering job. The weather in Guangdong is clear all the time, and less rainy, so the job is usually doing outdoor. For the leaves better blown by the wind and take the herbaceous smell away, the tea masters will stir the leaves 1 or 2 times during the job. Stirring should be gentle, or the leaves may be broken, and lead to over oxidation; in this case, they only can be made into the oolong.
The outdoor withering usually lasts 1-3 hours. If the weather is too hot, tea masters will choose to withering indoor; it may cost 2-4 hours. To process Da Ye Qing, it just needs mildly oxidized, not as deep as the white tea, which takes withering as the main processing steps and costs a few days.
Fixation is the basic step of tea processing, is for leaves to stop from go on oxidizing. After withering, leaves will be sent into a particular machine, or to fixation by traditional handwork. When the leaves and stems turn to dark green, with a sticky feeling and can not be broken off, the job done.
Rolling is for tea shaping. One feature of Da Ye Qing tea is the bigger leaf, tea masters typically rolling them into strip shape so that it won’t look obtrusive when it mixes with the stems. Of course, in modern times, the rolling job most will be done by machine too.
Sealing yellow is a special and the most important step of yellow tea processing, it decides the quality very much. In the sealing yellow process of Da Ye Qing, tea masters pile the leaves after rolling together, then pack them with a wet cloth, put them at a dark, moist, and non-wind place. During the processing, the tea leaves pile temperature will be kept at about 35℃, cost about 3-5 hours. They will turn into a yellow color, lose all the herbaceous smell, and send out a strong cooked aroma after finish the job.
The following job is drying. Yellow tea usually drying in a roasting way, and the finished product has less 6% moisture content. Likewise, most of the drying jobs will be done by a particular machine.
The Shrinking Market
Most people never heard about the yellow tea, let alone the Da Ye Qing tea. In fact, the yellow tea market keeps shrinking, the well-known products only such as the Huoshan Huangya, Meng Ding Huang Ya, and Haimagong Tea. And to Da Ye Qing, it has been hard to buy. How come like this?
The biggest reason is the audiences of yellow tea are few. Western tea lovers like green tea and black tea, and Chinese tea lovers prefer oolong and dark tea. About the taste, yellow tea can’t bring a shot to people, and the price also high. That makes yellow tea in an awkward position. The merchants think it is hard to bring profit and do little job on promotion, and it makes a vicious circle.
Even though Da Ye Qing tea is from Guangdong, but more famous oolong and black tea there. The owners of tea plantations prefer to make the fresh leaves into them but not the Da Ye Qing. It is understood, only a tea plantation still produces few Da Ye Qing tea in Zhaoqing city so far, and just for sale on the preorder way.
Besides that, in modern tea processing, most of the jobs are done by machines, increase the efficiency a lot. But in the yellow tea processing, the sealing yellow step is hard to control with a machine, it’s not good for the mass production. And one feature of Da Ye Qing is the big leaf and big stem, which is different from other teas on raw material chosen. Earlier years, some tea plantations in other places try to produce Da Ye Qing, but give up at the end because they can not reach this standard.
Imagine you are the tea manufacturer, will you take time and trobles to produce this tea for the poor profit? Just hope the technique of making yellow tea will not be lost. Sometimes, having a try on the unique taste of yellow tea is awesome.