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22nd October 2009


Tea Focus on Yunnan Gold

Posted by: Bennet

Yunnan Gold is a newcomer among Chinese black teas, first produced in 1938. But despite its relative infancy, Yunnan Gold has already developed a reputation for opulence – it was a favourite of the young Queen Elizabeth, who was said to proudly display it in a glass cabinet. When it was first introduced, the rare tea could fetch nearly £900 per 500g. Today, although now produced in much larger quantities, it still retains some of that sense of luxury and indulgence.

Yunnan Gold was originally grown specifically for export to Great Britain through Hong Kong, rather than for the Chinese domestic market. Despite this, its popularity was such that it soon began to spread throughout mainland China. The tea got off to a false start, however, since production was halted by the Civil War that led to the establishment of the People’s Republic, and due to further ensuing unrest it was not recommenced until as late as the nineteen-eighties, at which time the original production techniques were faithfully revived.

The tea is grown in gardens with an altitude of between one-thousand and two thousand metres, which ensures a mild average annual temperature. This means that the tea harvest can begin in spring and continue right until the end of autumn. The spring crop is always considered to be the finest, the characteristic golden colour is at its most light and delicate and the leaves are plump and tender. During the harsher seasons of summer and autumn, the temperature tends to cause the stems of the leaves to harden and the leaves to become less supple. The golden tinge of the leaves varies in intensity depending on the region in which the tea is grown as well as the time of year at which it is picked. The crops grown in the west of Yunnan province are known to carry a more orangey-gold colour, whereas those produced in the south of the province tend to be tinged with a purer bright gold.

The leaves become darker throughout the year, the darkest tea leaves will be those harvested in autumn. The tea from the western region of the province is generally thought to be of highest quality, Yunnan Gold harvested in the south is usually slightly more astringent.The deep, rich flavour of this tea, with hints of winter spice, can be enjoyed equally in the morning or the afternoon