Yunnan Black Tea (Dianhong): Varieties, Production, and Health Benefits

Yunnan province is known for its moderate climate, diverse and attractive flavors, including flowers, tea, mushrooms, and fruits. The incense of Yunnan has a fragrance that smells of mountains and wildness, free, strong, and elegant. Although Pu’er tea is widely known as Yunnan’s most famous tea, the most prominent representative of Yunnan taste is Yunnan Black Tea, also known as Dianhong (滇紅茶).

Production and Varieties

Dianhong is a high-end gourmet tea and one of the four major black teas in China. It is produced by Han tea farmers in Baoshan, Fengqing, Xishuangbanna, Dehong, and other areas in southern and southwestern Yunnan Province. Dianhong is unique because of the fresh tea leaves of Yunnan’s large leaf tea plants. The delicate process after picking includes withering, rolling, fermentation, and baking. The number of fine leaf buds or “golden tips” present in the dried tea is the main difference between Dianhong and other Chinese black teas.

There are two types of Dianhong: traditional roasted black tea and sun-dried black tea. Roasted black tea is roasted by fire, while sun-dried tea refers to natural drying. Its primary sources are ancient tea tree black tea and wild tea tree black tea.

Dianhong can be divided into the following varieties:

  1. Broken Yunnan: A cheap tea used for blending with few golden buds and generally bitter on its own. The largely black dried leaves with only a few bursts of golden tips make it easily identifiable. The brew is dark and reddish-brown, suitable for drinking with sugar and milk.
  2. Golden Needle: A newer variety of Dianhong named for its gold needle shape, refined from a single bud. It yields an amberish infusion and a strong maltose fragrance.
  3. Pine Needle: A sibling tea of Golden Needle, which is also made by picking tea with one bud and one leaf.
  4. Yunnan Pure Gold: Made by splendid single buds, the strips are naturally full, and the tea buds are straight (golden buds) or slightly curved. It is a relatively high-grade tea with a bright red tea liquor, gentle aroma, and sweet taste. The leaves are reddish-brown after being brewed.
  5. Golden Snail: Made by picking a single bud, one bud one leaf, one bud two leaves tea, it is similar in shape to a “snail shell”. The bud leaves are delicate and golden in color. After brewing, the infusion is red and bright with a fresh aroma, and the tea leaves are red and bright, with prominent golden tips.

Health Benefits

Yunnan black tea/Dianhong has several health benefits, including diuretic, anti-inflammatory and bactericidal, detoxification, and refreshing and anti-fatigue effects. The caffeine and aromatic substances in Yunnan black tea increase kidney blood flow, improve the glomerular filtration rate, and dilate the renal microvessels, which leads to an increase in urine output. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect due to the polyphenolic compounds, which can combine with single-cell bacteria to help inhibit and eliminate pathogens. The tea polyphenols in Yunnan black tea can also absorb heavy metals and alkaloids, which contributes to detoxification. The caffeine in Yunnan black tea stimulates the nerve centre by stimulating the cerebral cortex, leading to a refreshing and concentration of thinking, which makes thinking responses sharper and enhances memory. It also strengthens the heartbeat, speeds up blood circulation, promotes sweating and vasodilation, which can help relieve fatigue.

Yunnan black tea also contains theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety. Theanine can increase the activity of alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation and reduced mental and physical stress. Additionally, Yunnan black tea contains antioxidants, such as catechins and theaflavins, which can help prevent cell damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Overall, Yunnan black tea has a range of potential health benefits and is a delicious and refreshing beverage to enjoy.

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