What is Yunnan Black Tea? Figure Out Its Types, Benefits, Buying And Storing

Welcome to the world of Yunnan Black Tea! Let me take you on a journey to discover an extraordinary variety of tea from the scenic mountains of Southwestern China – the Yunnan tea.

With its alluring aroma, distinctive taste, and rich history that dates back thousands of years, Yunnan tea truly is an intriguing subject in tea.

About Yunnan Black Tea

As its name suggests, Yunnan tea hails from the Yunnan province of China, known for its diverse tea production. This term covers a variety of teas, including the famous Dark Pu erh, Green, White, and even Oolong teas. Still, the standouts are its White, Black, and Dark types.

Yunnan Black Tea
Yunnan Black Tea

Notably, “Dian Hong” tea, translated to ‘Red Tea from Yunnan,’ is what most people think of when referring to Yunnan tea. This Black tea variant is famous for its robust and slightly smoky flavour, complimented with a unique honey-like sweetness. The flavor profile doesn’t stop there – these teas can also hint at tobacco, malt, and even chocolate, making each sip a delightful surprise.

Yunnan Gold Black tea

Yunnan tea is not just a beverage; it’s a cultural journey from China’s fertile lands to your cup, offering a rich, flavorful experience that is a testament to the region’s tea-making heritage.

Origins of Yunnan Tea

Yunnan Tea Farm
Yunnan Tea Farm

Let’s hop into our time machines and travel back to 1939. This was a pivotal year for the Yunnan tea industry, marking a significant shift in its trajectory. With the broader landscape of China undergoing dramatic changes, Yunnan started gaining national attention and favouritism, becoming a key player in the country’s tea production.

This period attracted a host of brilliant minds and experts who began their illustrious careers on the fertile grounds of Yunnan.

Amid these changes, Feng Shaoqiu, later fondly dubbed the “Father of Dianhong,” was commissioned to establish the Shunning Experimental Tea Factory in 1939. Despite facing formidable challenges, Feng Shaoqiu pioneered the production of Yunnan machine-made black tea, paving the way for what we now know as ‘Yunnan Black Tea.

Over the following years, the tea factory underwent several changes, rebranding to ‘Shunning Tea Factory’ in 1950 and finally becoming the ‘Fengqing Tea Factory’ in 1954. The black tea produced here, initially named ‘Yunhong,’ was exported far and wide. Later, someone astutely suggested renaming it to ‘Dianhong,’ which is short for Yunnan black tea, and thus the term Yunnan Black Tea recipe was firmly established in the global tea vocabulary. Among its iconic products, ‘Dianhong Gongfu’ remains a classic favorite.

Initially, Dianhong tea was primarily intended for export, but as markets evolved, it transitioned towards domestic sales. With the dawn of the new millennium, we saw the introduction of the ‘Classic 58’ and other varieties, including the coveted ‘China Red,’ representing the pinnacle of Dianhong tea. More recently, ancient tree (big tree) black tea has gained popularity due to shifting market trends.

Yunnan Black Tea Taste

Dianhong tea, with its “beautiful shape, bright colour, high aroma, and strong flavour,” has bagged numerous gold awards locally and internationally. There’s even a charming rumor that the Queen of England has enjoyed this tea!

Fast forward to today, and we can see that the legacy of Yunnan tea continues to brew. It has come a long way from a historical perspective, and there’s no doubt it holds a promising future. So, the next time you steep a cup of this flavorful tea, remember you’re savouring a rich history spanning over eight decades.

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Yunnan Black Tea Types

Yunnan black tea includes Dianhong Kung Fu, Jinsi Dianhong, Dianhong Lily, wild black tea, Pu’er sun-dried red tea, and Zicuckoo black tea.

Yunnan Black Tea Types

Dianhong Gongfu

Born in regions like Lincang and Baoshan of Yunnan, Dianhong Gongfu tea has quickly made a name for itself as a rising star of Chinese Gongfu black tea. This tea belongs to the large-leaf variety of Gongfu teas.

As I hold a handful of Dianhong Gongfu, I’m greeted by its tightly knotted and robust shape, a testament to the artisan’s skill. The dry tea leaves are dark and moist, revealing glimmers of gold. 

As you steep it, the tea soup turns a rich red, encircled by prominent gold rings, a delight for your palate and eyes. The leaves, too, turn a vibrant red, a characteristic that sets it apart from other teas. It’s no wonder Dianhong Gongfu is admired globally by tea experts and enthusiasts alike.

Gold Silk Dianhong

Moving onto Gold Silk Dianhong, often called the golden silk lump or small golden snail, this tea signifies the pinnacle of Yunnan’s black tea craftsmanship. You’ll know you’re looking at Gold Silk Dianhong by its golden appearance.

The moment you brew it, you’ll be captivated by the radiant red tea soup, its high fragrance, and its lingering sweet aftertaste. This kind of tea makes your taste buds dance, earning it the top-grade Dianhong tea in Yunnan.

Dianhong Golden Needle

Emerging as a new variety in the Dianhong tea lineage, the Dianhong Golden Needle combines traditional tea-making skills with modern techniques. This tea is meticulously crafted, using carefully chosen buds and leaves.

The Dianhong Golden Needle is recognized by its bright golden bud tips and an aroma that reminds me of malt sugar. Its taste is robust yet mellow, marking its position among the top-grade Dianhong teas.

The Gold Silk Dianhong and Dianhong Needle are part of the Dianhong Gongfu category. Both teas offer a rich, full-bodied Yunnan black tea taste and remain radiant red even after multiple brews. Their signature traits are their bold shape, golden hairs, and strong fragrance, which underscore the uniqueness of Yunnan’s tea heritage.

Wild Black Tea

Born from the leaves of wild tea trees, Wild Yunnan gold black tea is a fermented Dianhong variety that unites traditional and advanced tea-making techniques. This tea boasts a black, glossy appearance and a soothing, natural aroma.

Once brewed, its colour turns into a vibrant red, orange, and gold blend with an oily surface. The taste is rich and smooth, leaving a long-lasting sweetness that remains even after numerous infusions.

Distinctive for its unique “mountain wild” essence, Wild Black Tea also carries beneficial nutrients like catechins, theaflavins, and thearubigins. Drinking Wild Black Tea, you enjoy its flavours and partaking in Yunnan’s lush tea heritage.

Pu’er Sun-Dried Red

The origins of Pu’er Sun-Dried Red are shrouded in mystery, with legends tracing it back to the Yuan Dynasty. The unique process of sun-drying black tea was proposed in 2014 by Bao Zhonghua, general manager of Pu’er Xinhua National Tea Co., Ltd.

Pu’er Sun-Dried Red marries the properties of sun-dried green hair tea and black tea, making it a hit among tea lovers. It boasts about 70%-80% fermentation, slightly less than traditional black tea. This is due to the unique sun-drying step which retains the tea leaves’ activity.

The tea leaves of Pu’er Sun-Dried Red are dark brown, tightly knotted, with visible tea hair. The resulting brew is a bright red colour, combining the smoothness of Pu’er tea with reduced bitterness and astringency, plus an additional touch of sunshine. This tea is quite resistant to brewing, making it a good choice for multiple infusions.

Regarding shelf life, Pu’er Sun-Dried Red shares similarities with Dianhong and other black teas, typically lasting 2-3 years. When properly stored, this tea’s flavour matures over time, producing a redder, brighter soup and a sweeter taste.

Zi Juan Black Tea

This tea is admired for its elegant aroma, refreshing taste, and bright red soup color. It gives you a wonderful, long-lasting aftertaste and a gentle, fluid sensation under the tongue. Looking at the leaves post-brew, they turn into a vibrant reddish-brown hue, a testament to the unique color profile of this tea.

This unique tea variety comes from the purple buds, leaves, and stems of the “Zijuan” tea tree, a rare breed discovered and cultivated by the Tea Research Institute of the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Zi Juan Black Tea is crafted from one bud and two fresh leaves of the “Zijuan” tea tree using a special processing technique. This results in a purple-black dry tea color, adding a delightful touch to your tea collection.

Yunnan Tea Caffeine Content

The caffeine content in Yunnan tea varies, typically landing somewhere in the 30-60 mg range per cup. However, this is small due to many factors influencing the caffeine content. The caffeine content in Yunnan tea is influenced by the type of tea plant, growing conditions, leaf age, processing method, and brewing technique.

Yunnan Tea Caffeine Content

An interesting detail about Yunnan teas, especially the beautiful black ones graced with golden hair, is their caffeine content relative to their number of golden tips. Tea buds, often coated in these golden tips, contain more caffeine than the older mature leaves. The more golden tips a Yunnan tea has, the higher its caffeine content will likely be.

Contrasting this with Assam teas, Yunnan teas are less frequently broken, influencing their overall caffeine content. Assam teas and tea blends, particularly those in tea bags consisting of smaller particles, usually have a higher caffeine content than loose-leaf tea from Yunnan. 

This distinction is important when considering your caffeine intake, especially if you opt for a loose-leaf Yunnan tea over your regular breakfast tea blend.

Yunnan Black Tea Key Benefits & Advantages

So, what are the Yunnan black tea health benefits? Let’s check out some Yunnan black tea review below for more details!

Benefit Description
Anti-oxidation and anti-ageing
Rich in antioxidants, Yunnan Black Tea combats free radicals, potentially inhibiting tumor growth and aging.
Diuretic effect
Caffeine and aromatic substances in the tea promote kidney function, increase urine output, and aid in detoxification.
Heat-clearing effect
Yunnan Black Tea helps cool the body, stimulates saliva production, and regulates body temperature in hot weather.
Anti-inflammatory and bactericidal effect
Polyphenolic compounds in the tea exhibit anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, potentially combating infections.
Detoxification effect
Tea polyphenols may help absorb and eliminate harmful substances like heavy metals, supporting detoxification.
Refreshing and anti-fatigue effect
Caffeine in the tea stimulates the brain, improves concentration, enhances cardiovascular function, and combats fatigue.
Best drink for exercise
Caffeine promotes fat oxidation, energy storage, and endurance, making it suitable for exercise enthusiasts.
Nourish and strengthen stomach and intestines
Yunnan Black Tea can support digestive health by reducing inflammation and potentially aiding in ulcer treatment.
Bone health
Theaflavins and thearubigins in the tea may help preserve bone cell vitality, offering potential protection against osteoporosis.

Anti-oxidation and anti-ageing

Yunnan black tea, rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and catechins, has been suggested to have potential health benefits, including possibly inhibiting the growth of tumor cells.

Yunnan Black Tea Benefits

These antioxidants are believed to combat harmful free radicals and unstable molecules that can cause damage at the cellular level, a process known as oxidative stress, which is intricately linked with aging and various diseases.

In the context of cancer, these antioxidants may interfere with the growth of certain tumor cells, impeding their development and proliferation. However, while these findings are promising, they are not definitive.

Much more research and discussion are needed in the scientific and medical community before golden Yunnan black tea – or any tea, for that matter – can be officially recommended as a treatment.

Diuretic effect

The diuretic effect of Yunnan black tea results from the symbiotic activity of caffeine and its aromatic substances.

These components, when consumed, bolster kidney blood flow and enhance the glomerular filtration rate. 

The constituents of the tea also promote the dilation of renal microvessels while simultaneously inhibiting the reabsorption of water by the renal tubules. This dual-action process facilitates an increase in urine output. This helps the body excrete lactic acid, uric acid (a compound related to gout), excessive salts (which can be associated with high blood pressure), and other potentially harmful substances.

This diuretic function can also alleviate edema or swelling, often caused by heart disease or nephritis.

Heat-clearing effect

China yunnan black tea is an ideal beverage choice for summer, providing a much-needed respite from heat and aiding in quenching thirst.

This is attributed to beneficial compounds within the tea, such as polyphenols, including catechins, various sugars, and amino acids. 

These compounds react chemically with saliva in the mouth, stimulating increased saliva production. This increased secretion fosters a moist oral environment and can induce a cooling sensation, contributing to a refreshing experience when consumed.

Saliva plays a crucial role in digestion and maintaining oral health, making this stimulatory effect of tea potentially beneficial beyond merely quenching thirst. Concurrently, the consumption of Yunnan black tea helps regulate body temperature, an essential aspect of thermoregulation, especially during the sweltering summer months. 

By promoting these physiological responses, Yunnan black tea with milk offers a natural and enjoyable method to stay cool and hydrated.

Anti-inflammatory and bactericidal effect

Yunnan black tea exhibits potential anti-inflammatory and bactericidal properties, primarily due to its polyphenolic compounds, including catechins.

These natural phenols and antioxidants are known for their health-boosting properties. Catechins demonstrate a unique capability to interact with certain types of single-cell bacteria, prompting a process that causes their protein structures to solidify and precipitate. 

This fascinating biological interaction is vital in inhibiting and potentially eliminating these pathogenic microorganisms, reinforcing the tea’s antimicrobial activity.

Detoxification effect

Yunnan black tea, much revered for its detoxification properties, can potentially aid in purging the body of harmful substances.

Laboratory experiments suggest that the tea polyphenols, such as catechins, inherent in Yunnan black tea can serve as agents for detoxification. These natural compounds have shown the ability to absorb and precipitate harmful substances like heavy metals and alkaloids, which can harm health in high concentrations. 

Heavy metals, including lead and mercury, and alkaloids, such as nicotine and morphine, can accumulate in the body over time, leading to various health issues. The decomposition of these substances by the tea polyphenols thus underscores the detoxifying capacity of Yunnan black tea. 

This ability to support the body’s detoxification processes makes Yunnan black tea a potentially beneficial addition to a health-conscious lifestyle.

Refreshing and anti-fatigue effect

Medical research shows that caffeine stimulates not only the nerve centre but also specifically the cerebral cortex, a region of the brain critical for information processing and cognitive function. This stimulation enhances mental alertness and improves concentration, producing sharper cognitive responses and potential memory enhancement.

In addition, caffeine also stimulates the cardiovascular system, particularly the heart, strengthening heartbeats and consequently speeding up blood circulation. An efficient circulation system facilitates overall metabolism, which is essential for maintaining good health.

Moreover, caffeine promotes sweating and diuresis – essential processes for detoxification. This increased metabolic and detoxification activity hastens the elimination of waste substances, such as lactic acid, a compound linked to muscle fatigue. 

By speeding up the removal of such materials, Yunnan black tea supports the body’s natural processes to combat fatigue, providing a refreshing and rejuvenating effect.

Best drink for exercise

Yunnan black tea is a promising beverage choice for exercise enthusiasts, not just for its refreshing properties and hydration benefits, but also for its potential to enhance physical strength and endurance for sustained exercise.

This is largely due to caffeine, a well-known stimulant that can invigorate the body and mind. Caffeine is suggested to promote the process of fat oxidation, where the body uses fat as a fuel source, supplying necessary heat and energy during physical activity. This metabolic effect aids in maintaining endurance, particularly during prolonged exercise.

Furthermore, the regular intake of Yunnan black tea could potentially support the storage of energy reserves, like glycogen, in the liver. This ensures a steady energy supply, allowing for better stamina and performance during exercise. These benefits make Yunnan black tea an ideal companion for those committed to regular physical activity.

Nourish and strengthen stomach and intestines to aid digestion

In promoting digestive health, Yunnan black tea nourishes and strengthens the stomach and intestines, owing to the transformation of its tea polyphenols during the fermentation and roasting process. 

During these stages of preparation, tea polyphenols, including compounds like catechins and theaflavins, experience an oxidative reaction influenced by oxidised syrup. When Yunnan black tea is consumed, particularly in conjunction with milk, it’s suggested that it can aid in reducing inflammation and protecting the gastric mucosa, the lining that shields the stomach from its digestive acids. 

In addition, this distinctive black tea may also offer benefits in treating ulcers, underscoring its potential therapeutic properties related to digestive health. However, while these findings are intriguing, it’s important to note that further research is required to establish these benefits conclusively.

Bone health

Yunnan black tea, packed with beneficial polyphenols such as theaflavins and thearubigins, is suggested to aid in preserving bone cell vitality, potentially offering a preventative measure against osteoporosis – a common condition in women characterised by weakened bones.

A daily ritual of savouring a small cup of this unique black tea is recommended to harness this potential benefit. Regular consumption over several years could yield effective results in bolstering bone health.

You can combine different fruits with black tea to boost the health benefits. These fruits are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, which, when combined with the tea’s beneficial compounds, create a powerful effect that provides extra nutrients.

How to make Yunnan tea?

How to make Yunnan tea
How to make Yunnan tea

Bringing to mind that sunny afternoon at our local beach tea party last March, I was sharing a pot of Yunnan tea with fellow enthusiasts. A simple ritual brings out the best flavour in this unique tea. Here are my go-to steps for brewing Yunnan tea:

  1. Preheat the Teapot: I always start by pouring boiling water into the teapot to preheat it. The warmth helps the tea leaves release their flavour.
  2. Measure the Tea: For every 8 ounces (approximately 236 ml) of water, I use about 2 grams of Yunnan tea. If you prefer a stronger brew, feel free to adjust the amount to your taste.
  3. Boil the Water: Now, I heat my water. The water should be close to boiling for black Yunnan tea, around 90-95 degrees Celsius (194-203 degrees Fahrenheit).
  4. Steep the Tea: I pour the water over the tea leaves once it is at the ideal temperature. The steeping time for Yunnan tea is generally around 3-5 minutes, depending on your taste preference. You can watch the colour – it should turn a beautiful red-brown when ready.
  5. Strain and Serve: Finally, I strain the tea leaves, pour them into cups, and serve them. Yunnan tea is ready to enjoy, but if you prefer, add a little sugar or honey to sweeten them.
  6. Multiple Infusions: One of the delightful things about Yunnan tea is that it can be re-steeped several times. Each infusion reveals a different facet of the tea’s character.

Brewing tea is an art and a science, so feel free to adjust these instructions to suit your taste. The key is to enjoy the process and the tea!

Buying and Storing Yunnan tea


Reflecting on my own experiences over the years, I’ve gathered a few pointers that can be useful when buying and storing Yunnan tea:

Buying Yunnan Tea

Identify Your Preference: First and foremost, it’s crucial to know your preference. Yunnan tea comes in various types, each with a unique flavour profile. 

Do you like the rich, malty taste of Dianhong Gongfu or the subtle complexity of wild black tea? Understand what you’re looking for before making a purchase.

Consider the Source: It’s always a good idea to purchase Yunnan tea from reputable suppliers who can provide details about its origin, processing, and harvesting. This ensures that you are getting authentic, high-quality tea.

Look at the Leaves: I like to examine the dry tea leaves. Good Yunnan tea leaves are generally larger, well-formed, and may feature golden tips. The colour is usually a deep, dark black.

Storing Yunnan Tea

Proper Container: I’ve found that the best way to store Yunnan tea is in airtight containers. This keeps the tea fresh by protecting it from air, moisture, and odours.

Cool, Dark Place: I always store my Yunnan tea in a cool, dark place to preserve the flavour and aroma. Exposure to light or heat can deteriorate the tea’s quality.

Avoid Mixing Varieties: If you have different types of Yunnan tea, it’s best to store them separately. Each type has unique characteristics, and storing them together might mix or alter these flavours.

Regular Checks: Finally, checking your tea regularly is important. If the tea’s aroma starts to fade, it might be a sign that it’s time to enjoy it before it loses its freshness.


To summarise what we’ve covered, Yunnan tea, especially the famous Dianhong, is a unique beverage filled with rich, malty flavours, golden-tipped leaves, and incredible health benefits. It’s crafted using various traditional techniques, contributing to its distinct taste and aroma. Furthermore, there’s a Yunnan tea for every palate with varieties like Dianhong, Dienhong golden needle, wild black tea, Pu’er sun-dried red, Zijuan black tea, and others.

If you’ve found this post helpful and intriguing, I’d love for you to share it with your fellow tea lovers. Spreading the love for Yunnan tea makes our community more vibrant. You can also sign up for our newsletter for more insightful content about tea, brewing, and more.

And, of course, if you’ve already delved into Yunnan tea, drop a comment about your experience. Your insights enrich our understanding and provide invaluable guidance to those eager to explore Yunnan tea.

Let’s keep the conversation brewing! From with love Spiriteadrinks.com


What kind of tea is in Yunnan?

Yunnan, a province in China, is famous for various teas, including Yunnan black tea (Dianhong), Pu’er, and green tea. The most renowned is Dianhong, known for its unique malty flavour and golden tips.

What does Yunnan tea taste like?

Yunnan tea, especially Dianhong, has a rich and full-bodied flavor. It boasts a sweet and malty taste, with notes of chocolate and raisin and a smooth finish that leaves a lingering sweetness in the mouth.

What is Yunnan tea in Chinese?

Yunnan tea is known as “云南茶” in Chinese. In particular, Yunnan black tea, or Dianhong, is called “滇红茶”.

Is Yunnan tea smoky?

Yunnan tea is typically not smoky. It is renowned for its sweet, malty flavor and lack of bitterness. However, flavor variations can vary depending on the specific type and processing method.

What is the translation of Dian Hong tea?

“Dian Hong” translates to “Yunnan Red” in English. “Dian” is a short name for the Yunnan region, and “Hong” means red, referring to the colour of the brewed tea. This tea is renowned for its rich, full-bodied flavor and golden-tipped leaves.