黄片 Huángpiàn "Yellow Flake" tea is comprised of the often discarded lower leaves on a leafier bud set, found in the genres of Pu'er and Oolong when the 3rd or 4th leaf down is fired in the killgreen wok and turns out crinkly and yellow due to its recently-shifted water/mineral composition, uncoercable into the uniform dark grey spindles (in raw pu'er) that the producers aim for. The modern obsession with appearance and grading conventions has influenced markets to devalue such byproducts almost to mere refuse as huangpian is sorted out prior to the cake press.
While these discarded tea leaves unto themselves might indeed be certifiably fugly, they are absolutely without pretense (and hype pricing) and are still of high quality... Equipped with better understanding perhaps our more adventurous sides can find some value in them yet.
While the great insecticide caffeine expresses more towards the recently-emerged and vulnerable terminus of the bud set (away from the lowest leaves), therefore when isolated, the lower leaves yield a less caffeinated and polyphenol-rich brewing experience. More polysaccharides are present, giving us a sweeter and more mellow soup, with less astringency, and more juicy thick interactivity in the mouth and throat that's easy on the stomach.
Because of this, brewability is much more forgiving in Huangpian raw pu'er than with the attention-demanding sensitivity of a standard raw pu'er, and we believe the less-caffeinated Huangpian tea can be a unique gongfu experience waiting to be discovered if fit into the right time, ritual, routine of experimentally-natured tea drinkers. Perhaps for those late night, longer gong fu sessions that still seek to experientially explore the Yunnan mountains in each steep.
Admittedly, our insistence to better understand Huangpian and spread this understanding is not only about its appreciation, but also about a long-held annoyance at tea vendors who would take the opportunity to capitalize on the relative ridiculous affordability of Huangpian by obscuring these basic facts, presenting it as some kind of farmer's choice, wizened and mature-leafed offering that would of course fetch standard pricing for raw pu'er from that region if not more. How a vendor approaches the huangpian situation is therefore a most valuable litmus test for bullshit.
We're proud to offer Dá É's 2023 Huangpian tea at its naturally reasonable price range, accessible both to folks that enjoy the gentle mellow sweetness as well as for those novel to these flakes. Sippable now or treasurable for storage, fast forward a few years for a deeper mellower medicinality.
original Elephant artwork by Arulu Gallagher