Guide to Yellow Tea Types

Yellow Chinese Tea in tasting cupYellow Tea is a rare and expensive variety of Green Tea: processing methods vary and some are closely guarded secrets, but most Yellow Teas are made by covering lightly withered Green Teas with mats to allow a small amount of oxidation to occur. This has the effect of giving a yellow tinge to the leaves and a slightly sweeter, more rounded taste to the liquor.


Browse Canton's range of high quality loose leaf yellow tea

Growing and Production

  • Varietals: Most Yellow Teas are produced from two Camellia Sinensis varietals: Big White and Narcissus.
  • Major growing areas: Yellow Teas are produced in Anhui, Sichuan and Henan provinces.
  • Picking: Immature tea buds are hand-picked in early spring.
  • Processing: Yellow Tea is processed as for Green Tea but undergoes a slightly longer oxidation process to temper the grassy, vegetal flavours of standard Green Tea. The leaves are allowed to oxidise slowly under special mats or in boxes to create a yellowish appearance and a sweet rounded taste that is highly prized by connoisseurs.

Yellow Tea is usually oven dried to preserve the subtle flavours.


Production of Yellow Tea dates back to the 17th Century when it was first produced in Anhui and Sichuan. 

The art of making some Yellow Teas has been lost forever due to the time and cost involved in processing the tea.

Yellow Tea was reputedly a favourite of Mao Zedong.

Today Yellow teas are making a comeback but fakes abound.

Yellow Tea varieties

Meng Ding Hu Yellow Tea

Meng Ding Huang Ya is one of the best known Yellow Teas in China. Only the the valuable, tender young leaf buds, picked from high up on the peak of Mount Meng, can be considered true Meng Ding Huang Ya.

Other varieties include Huo Shan, Huang Ya and Jun Shan Yin Zhen.

Yellow Tea Health Benefits

Yellow Tea is high in antioxidants and relatively low in caffeine. The relatively light processing methods used to make Yellow Teas causes them to have particularly high levels of catechin polyphenols – the most important of which is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant which has been linked to inhibiting cancer and heart disease.

For full health benefits of drinking Green Tea see our Health Benefits section.