Qian Nian Ye Sheng Bing (千年野生大餅, Qiān Nián Yě Shēng Dà Bǐng, "Thousand Year Wild Big Bing") is picked from the wild ancestor of the Yunnan tea plant, Camellia crassicolumna. These wild plants are randomly distributed throughout the forest - as opposed to planted in convenient patches - and the buds, known as Yá Bāo when processed as tea, only appear once a year, in the middle of winter. Each bud opens into 3-5 colorful leaves, which may be red, white, purple, or green. Qiān Nián Yě Shēng is made from the fully-mature, opened leaves that emerge from these buds. In flavor it is smooth, vegetal, and herbaceous with notes of summer squash, a soft olive oily savor, and red bell pepper with a crisp fragrance evocative of a dry, grassy meadow.
Studies show that Camellia crassicolumna leaves, such as these, likely don't produce caffeine.
This standard size bing includes 357g of pressed tea. The base color of the wrapper is blue, indicating that it is an herbal tea (we categorize it this way due to the likely absence of caffeine). The ring color is green, indicating that it has been prepared as a Sheng Pu'er.
What a wonderful tea to enjoy throughout the day, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. It is worth noting that this tea does well in porcelain and in clay. For a more mellow brew, 90 C does the trick but hit it with boiling water to really exaggerate the more herbaceous notes. With my amateur palet, I get a lovely raisin note as well that is enjoyable. The Qi is really something else, and I've told So Han that it reminds me of laying out in the sun on the beach with your homies; it is quite a mood-enhancing and heady experience.