Yunnan red tea is a type of black tea from Yunnan province in China. Yunnan red is frequently called by its Chinese name, Dian hong; this term translates almost exactly: "Dian" is a shorthand for Yunnan province, and "hong" means red. In China,
Yunnan Province As a Tea Producer:
Yunnan province is best known for being the origin of Pu-erh, a type of tea that is frequently aged for long periods of time, and gains quality as it is aged. Yunnan province has a long history of tea production, but most of their teas were originally made in a style similar to Pu-erh. However, in the 20th century this region began also producing black teas as well. Although Yunnan also produces green and white teas, their black teas are probably the next most well-known of their teas, after Pu-erh.
Dian Hong or Yunnan Red in Comparison To Other Teas:
Yunnan red is widely known for being a strong and powerful black tea. It has a deep, malty character to its aroma, somewhat similar to Assam tea grown in India. Like Assam, it makes an outstanding breakfast tea for people looking to start their day with a strong cup of black tea. However, unlike Assam, Yunnan red has a unique peppery quality in its aroma, and shares certain characteristics of aroma in common with Pu-erh and other teas grown in Yunnan province.
Black teas from Yunnan are used both on their own and in blends. When blended, they are frequently used in stronger breakfast blends. To fully appreciate the nuances of Yunnan red, however, it is best to seek out single origin Yunnan black teas.
Yunnan gold is a special grade or subtype of Dian hong, which has a greater portion of tips or leaf buds, which have a golden color. The tips and leaf buds have a considerably higher caffeine content, as the tea plant manufactures caffeine primarily as a defence against insects, and the tender young leaves are most vulnerable to insect damage. Yunnan gold has a dry leaf with considerable golden-colored tips, and brews a cup which is considerably more highly-caffeinated, much like "tippy Assam", silver needle white tea, and other tippy teas.
Some Yunnan gold is made exclusively out of tips and buds; these teas are sometimes referred to as Yunnan pure gold, and the dry loose-leaf has a golden appearance, barely resembling other black teas at all. These yunnan golds can be very pricey. Although the aroma and flavor of these teas are more delicate, they among the most highly-caffeinated of black teas. Many tea drinkers, however, prefer the Yunnan gold with a mix of buds and more mature leaf, as it can brew a darker, more full-flavored cup.
Buying Dian Hong and Yunnan Gold:
Although they are not quite as well-known as Ceylon, Assam, and Darjeeling teas, Yunnan black teas are a stable offering of many serious tea companies, including both those that specialize in Chinese teas as well as tea companies with a focus on the black teas popular in western countries. Look for the many different names of these teas: "Yunnan black tea", Yunnan red, Dian hong, and Yunnan gold. With online retailers, you will find a wide variety of Yunnan reds and Yunnan golds available for sale, for a wide range of prices.
Alex Zorach is the creator of RateTea, an interactive website where anyone can rate and review teas. This site has a database of teas classified by brand, style, and region, with a wealth of information on each variety. Visit RateTea's page on Yunnan red / Dian Hong to read reviews of Dian hong and Yunnan gold, and locate different companies from which you can buy these teas.
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