A yellow tea produced in Anhui Province, China, known locally as huòshān huángyá (霍山黄芽), makes an infusion that tastes mellow with the aroma of chestnut. It also provides such benefits as maintaining the health of eyes and teeth, improving the digestive system, and boosting one’s immunity.
There is a curious folktale related to this yellow tea. During the Qing Dynasty, a wealthy tea merchant known as Chake Cheng traveled to Hubei Province for business. Late at night, he woke up to go to the tavern to quench his thirst. All of a sudden, he heard a groan coming from the next room. Out of kindness, he went into the room to see what was wrong. He saw a pale man in his fifties in a cold sweat, covering his belly with his hands and moaning.
Luckily, Chake studied traditional Chinese medicine and he could treat common illnesses. After examining the man, he believed the man’s pain was caused by a cold compounded by an unbalanced diet. He went back to his room and made a pot of strong tea with his high quality huòshān leaves for the man to drink. The hot tea gradually relieved the pain, and the patient finally fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning, Chake brought some pastries and another pot of the yellow tea to the guest next door. While they talked and drank the tea, they clicked as though they had been friends for years. Chake’s new friend told him: “My family name is Zhao. I am from Beijing. Yesterday, I came here with friends, but since they had to take care of some business, I stayed here alone. I did not expect to become critically ill. If you had not helped me, I might have never gotten the chance to chat with you.” Chake replied: “It was our destiny to meet here. I am a tea merchant and I travel a lot. You never know. Someday, I may visit you in Beijing.”
After Chake offered to visit Zhao in Beijing, Zhao replied: “if you come to the capital city, you are welcome to visit my house. I was so ill last night; what medicine did you use to relieve my pain?” Chake replied: “You were cured by huòshān yellow tea.”
Zhao was very surprised. He said: “I have lived in the capital city for years and drunk all kinds of famous teas, but I have never had that kind of tea. What’s the name of this tea and in which place it is produced?”
Chake opened the lid and showed him the tea. When it is steeped in the hot water, it emits a pleasant scent. Chake made the tea for Zhao, and told him the legend of the tea. During the telling of the story, Zhao kept proclaiming: “Good tea! Good tea!”
Zhao gave Chake a yellow handkerchief so Chake could find him when he went to the capital to visit him. The next morning, they bid farewell to each other and went their separate ways.
Two years later, Chake remembered Zhao, and thought it would be a good time to visit the capital, do some business, and meet his friend.
Chake traveled all the way to Beijing. After he got there, he learned the yellow handkerchief was an imperial handkerchief, and it turned out his friend Zhao was the emperor. After that, officials sent people to where the huòshān buds grew, and cured it especially as a tribute to the Emperor.