The rolling hills of China’s southern Yunnan Province have been identified as the birthplace of tea. Anthropologists say here is “where humans figured out that eating tea leaves or brewing a cup could be pleasant.”¹ As the top tea producing country in the world (followed by India and Kenya), the options of Chinese teas are seemingly endless. If you’re new to this vast world of tea and overwhelmed by the available selection, we recommend working your way through the list known as “China’s 10 Most Famous Teas.”
1) Xi Hu Long Jing (Green Tea)
2) Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun (Green Tea)
3) Huang Shan Mao Feng (Green Tea)
4) Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Yellow Tea)
5) Qimen Hong Cha (Black Tea)
6) Wu Yi Da Hong (Wulong/Oolong Tea)
7) Lu An Gua Pian (Green Tea)
8) Anxi Tie Guan Yin (Wulong/Oolong Tea)
9) Tai Ping Hou Kui (Green Tea)
10) Xin Yang Mao Jian (Green Tea)
Each of these famous teas is recognized by its characteristic leaf shape and size, appearance, and taste. In total, there are six green teas, two wulong teas, one black tea, and one yellow. We’ll be highlighting a tea from each of these categories, but first, we’re starting with yellow tea. China is currently the only major producer of yellow teas, and even in China, it is a very rare type. In Tony Gebely’s book Tea: A User’s Guide, “Yellow tea is defined by a unique processing step where small batches of tea leaves are wrapped in cloth bundles after fixing, allowing them to yellow. While wrapped, the leaves turn from green to yellow-green as chlorophylls are broken down. Vegetal flavors mellow and subside, and the tea leaves partially oxidize.”
The only yellow tea to make the cut for China’s Ten Most Famous Teas is Jun Shan Yin Zhen (or Junshan Silver Needle). This incredibly rare yellow tea originated on Junshan Island in Hunan Province’s Dongting Lake, the second largest freshwater lake in China. Besides this tea, Dongting Lake is famous in Chinese culture as the place of origin of dragon boat racing and is home to the endangered Finless Porpoise.
This is was what the Finless Porpoise looks like in case you were curious. He’s a bonafide day brightener. (Photo Credit: www.china.org.cn)
Jun Shan Yin Zhen is made up purely of hand-sorted buds that are fixed (heated), wrapped in small bundles, and dried. Unlike most black, oolong, and pu’er teas, “yellow teas are not usually rolled or shaped in any way. The original plucking standard is preserved.”² Junshan Island’s soil and climate give the tea a sweet fruit aroma and light sugarcane taste. “The tea’s small growing area and the skill required to make it result in only a small quantity of authentic Jun Shan Yin Zhen produced each year.”³
We used our Raven Stovetop Kettle to brew the Jun Shan Yin Zhen. With Raven’s integrated tea filter, you can heat and steep in the same vessel saving time and cleanup. Since tea is even more sensitive to water temperature than coffee, Raven’s steep-range thermometer helps you dial-in the correct degree point.
- Brew Color: Light Yellow
- Flavor Profile: Light sugarcane
- Aroma: Sweet fruit
- Add 1-1.5 tsp for every 8 oz of water
- Heat water to 190°F
- Steep tea in Raven’s filter for 2 minutes
If you’re interested in brewing Jun Shan Yin Zhen at home, Tea Drunk and Seven Cups both have great options. Happy steeping, friends!
- Fuller, Thomas (2008-04-21). “A Tea From the Jungle Enriches a Placid Village”. The New York Times. New York. p. A8.
- Gebely, Tony (2026). Tea: A User’s Guide. p. 70
- Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea. “Jun Shan Yin Zhen Yellow Team”. Tucson, Arizona.