Ahhh… huangpian. Either this is going to be an NSFW post or we’re talking about some delicious puerh. Maybe both?
Huangpian (黄片 – huangpian; literally “yellow leaf”) is the term for the larger and/or yellow leaves that are removed from maocha (毛茶 – maocha; literally “rough tea”) after processing, but before pressing.
Bitterleaf’s 2007 “Hidden Gem” Mahei Huangpian is a chance to try some semi-aged huangpian. This is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a 357 gram disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”).
Mahei (麻黑 – mahei; literally “black hemp”) is a part of the Yiwu region, so I’d expect a few similarities to other local Yiwu flavors like Mansa, etc. The dry leaves are pretty crispy, large, and brown.
I’m using boiling water for this session; rinsed the leaves one time quickly just to get rid of any residuals. The first steep was for 10 seconds. I tend to push huangpian just because the large leaves can handle it, unlike smaller grade leaves or younger shengs. It came out pretty watery, unfortunately. I guess the leaves didn’t really open yet, which is interesting, since most of the leaves were already flat and large.
Based on that, I made steep two for 15 seconds… And now it’s sour. Definitely a by-product of the wet storage. Wet storage has a distinctive musty smell and a sourness when overstepped at the start of a session. There’s a great residual sweetness, but it’s still very watery.
Steep three.. Another 10 seconds. Much, much better this time. The liquor has a good viscosity, lots of honey notes. The storage still lingers through a hint of sourness and astringency on the sides of the back of the tongue.
The fourth and fifth steeps escalate the sweetness, bringing in the soft taste of red apple peels. Nothing overwhelming in the mouth, but a full flavor. As expected for huangpian, there’s not much in the way of astringency or bitterness, but the sweetness is the star.
The Later Steeps
The steeps don’t change much from here. The flavor keeps with the muted taste from before; nothing complex, nothing unexpected. The tea is great to drink without much thought. The steeps wane, for me, around steep nine. After that, my taste buds are bored, per the usual. Honey and apple peels win the day.
Finishing the Session
Here’s the final verdict for me. I’m glad I have a cake of this tea. I love huangpian for its simplicity. This one has deep feelings of batabatacha due to the wet storage of the tea. At $0.35/g, it’s not a bad deal if this is your kind of tea. It’s probably not one that I’d go out of my way to but more of – a cake will be enough to taste as the years roll by.
All in all, this tea firmly stands as a decent example of semi-aged huangpian. There are no bad storage flavors and the tea brews up well after the initial hurdle. Take your time with this tea. You might just find a gem hidden inside your cup.
Until the next cup.