As with many Chinese tea names, the preceding words/characters refer to the place of origin and then followed by the tea’s name or type. In this case, Jun Shan Yin Zhen simply means Silver Needle of Mount Jun, which is located near Lake Dong Ting in the Hunan Province of China.
Supposedly, Jun Shan Yin Zhen is the rarest, most famous, most valuable (read: very expensive), and the best of all yellow teas. According to Master Lam Kam Chuen in his book “The Way of Tea,” this tea was popular during the Tang Dynasty but rarely drunk nowadays. Master Lam also noted:
"One of the reasons it is so famous is because when you make the tea the leaves stand vertically: some stand at the surface catching air bubbles while others stand at the bottom of the cup. According to Japanese superstition, tea leaves that stand vertically signify good luck."Some retailers claim that this was the favorite drink of the late Chairman Mao Zedong and that it was an imperial tribute tea for the emperors back in the ancient China days. I wonder if this is entirely true or just a marketing gimmick not unlike how tabloid magazines market some products (“Julia Roberts uses this facial cream!”).
Ok, enough background. How does it taste?
Knowing that yellow tea is delicate, it is therefore sensitive to brewing method and parameters. For this session, I used a 6oz gaiwan filled with about 1/4 of dry leaves and 75-80 degree Celsius spring water. Brewing time was: 30s, 30s, 40s, 50s…
Light clear yellow with a hint of amber/orange in color. Nose is of light and delicate white flower. Quite monotonic, I must say, but this does not mean the tea itself is “bad.” This is properly a yellow tea’s taste. Quite tannic, surprisingly, for such a light tea. At first, it seemed to taste like nothing but the spring water I brewed it with. A few seconds later, however, I realized that it’s actually slightly sweet and refreshing. It leaves a long lasting aftertaste that seems to go on forever everywhere in the mouth and the back of the throat. Although it’s been about an hour since I finished my last cup, I still could taste the sweetness in my mouth and throat. The tea leaves when chewed on is bitter-sweet.
This tea is perfect for relaxation. It is a nice change of pace for me after a few days of young raw pu-erh, cooked pu-erh, dan cong, and qing xiang tie guan yin. However, I’m still not quite sure what a good yellow tea should taste like, so it’s hard to judge. Do I like this tea? Yes, I do.