Today we look at the stories behind one of our Fujian Oolong teas, Yellow Gold Oolong Tea.
The Mandarin name for Yellow Gold Oolong is "Huang Jin Gui". Huang Jin means Yellow Gold in Mandarin and Gui refers to the Osmanthus flower. The name originated from the appearance and the flavour of this tea, as it produces a golden infusion and the nose is similar to the smell of Osmanthus flowers.
Huang Jin Gui is picked from Huang Dan, a specific species of oolong trees. There are two schools of thought on where this tea originated:
Some believe that this tea was originally invented around A.D. 1860 by a tea farmer who found the Huang Dan plant and took a branch back to his farm to plant. The unique flavour of the tea leaves that sprouted from this original tree attracted the attention ofthe farmers' neighbours and the tea soon developed a wide following.
Others believe that the Huang Dan plant came to be cultivated in a slightly more romantic fashion. In the region where Huang Dan grew naturally, An Xi county in Fujian province, it is a traditional custom that a newly wed bride brings "green" to her husband's house. The "green" which the bride brings to her new home is seen as a good omen for fertility, wealth and the future.
The "green" is usually brought in the form of sprouts or shoots of plants. So in a marriage in the spring of 1960, a young bride, Wang An Dan brought a wild young tree bush to her husband's house and planted it on a hill nearby. She looked after the tea tree bush carefully day after day, until she had a farm of them. It is said that the tea tree was still alive until 1967, and produced 5 to 8 kilos of fresh tea leaves annually.
Today, the picking season for Huang Jin Gui is slightly earlier compared to other oolong teas’. Normally picking takes place in mid-April; 7 to 10 days earlier than , and 12 to 18 days earlier than the picking of Tieguanyin Oolong tea. When the tea leaves sprouts, tea farmers pick the shoots from the top leaves of the bush as they are just beginning to open. The timing of the picking is very important, as the youngest leaves tend to make bitter infusions and the older leaves produce a weaker flavour.
The picked leaves are then hand processed and rolled. The resulting tea combines the full-bodied flavour typical of oolongs with the wild mountain grass freshness and sweetness found in young green teas.