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Jim Marks said

cold brewing yabao

I almost shudder to ask, but I’ll ask.

Does anyone have any experience with cold brewing yabao? I still have a quantity of buds left, and I’ve been less than satisfied both with the gaiwan and with a more Western steeping approach. I’m wondering if the slow and low approach will yield a more significant flavor.

13 Replies

Sounds like it would be pretty good! I don’t remember if I tried that last summer. I’ll give it a try tonight and let you know how much I used, how it turned out, etc etc.

Turns out we don’t have any yabao at home; we’re in the middle of moving, so it must all be at my husband’s office. But I do have a little sample bag of some yabao at work, so I’m cold-steeping it today.

And lo… I take extremely terrible pictures. ;)

Yabao in an empty Panera cup:
http://i.imgur.com/CdK5a.jpg
Yabao floating!
http://i.imgur.com/uJgjo.jpg
yabao in/on water:
http://i.imgur.com/MYkHX.jpg

It’s just been a couple of hours. Took a quick sip at 2 hrs, and it was very light as you might expect. Very little initial taste, but then there was a great sweet and woody aftertaste about a minute later. I’ll take another picture when it’s all steeped.. see if the leaves ever sink.

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DukeGus said

One sample(10gr) that I’ve got from a friend of mine didn’t satisfy me at all. If I’m not mistaken it’s just a herb and nothing to do with tea, interesting herb but nothing more. I got some left and if someone suggests me I’ll give it one more go.

Yabao is actually tea, not an herb. It’s actually pretty clear looking out the window here in MN.. yabao is the early "pre"buds of tea. Those buds that appear in the trees before they actually become leaves.

See these images for examples in everyday life:
http://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/9-11-11-american-beech-bud-img_7159.jpg?w=590&h=393
http://www.mnn.com/sites/default/files/tree%20bud.jpg
The pictures are not a tea pre-bud, but you get the idea.

Same plant.. same leaf.. just picked at different periods of development. I’m not sure why some folks don’t believe it.

Many folks who don’t get much flavor out of yabao do so because they’re not using nearly enough leaf. 10 or 12 buds is just not going to do it… just like 10 or 15 little buds from yunnan golden needle wouldn’t make a strong tea. Yabao is a big and fluffy tea, so you have to use more volume of leaves to use the same mass.
Take a look at this great picture:
http://verdanttea.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/YABAO-GAIWAN-XL.jpg
You might think that’s being wasteful or some such, but when you order an ounce of this tea and get it in two big bags, you’ll see that it’s not. Just a matter of variation in volume to mass ratios.

DukeGus said

So it’s the buds before flowering???
I’ll try to use all 10 gr in one brew and see what happens ;)

Thanks for the educational info mate!

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Jim Marks said

I believe you’re thinking of yerba mate, not yabao.

Yabao is aged white buds.

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I believe most of the yabao in market are not from the tea species. Some regions of Yunnan have the tradition of taking yabao from “wild tea” trees, and those “wild tea” trees are often not “tea” trees but of other species. At the consumers’ level, it’s often hard to tell from the appearance. Not that it matters ;-)

Jim Marks said

No, it doesn’t. This is why I start discussion threads with fear and trembling.

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Jim Marks said

@Spoonvonstup ~ I’m using more than enough bud. I can barely get any water into the gaiwan once the buds are hydrated, because there are so many in there. Although, my order of 2 ounces was nothing like “two big bags”. It was actually quite a small amount.

Thanks for the details, Jim. I’ll take pictures from cold-steeping tonight for reference, but it sure sounds like you’re using enough! I like sharing the reference pictures for anyone else who might read the thread further down-the-line with similar questions.

At what temp have you been hot-steeping? Off the top of my head, since it’s not a quantity issue, then it might be either water quality or water temp. But then again, you’ve certainly tried this several ways, and you’re water hasn’t been affecting any of your other brews. Either that, or it might be that yabao is a light tea? It’s no shu pu’er, that’s for sure. All the more reason to see if you like it better cold-steeped. Not everyone will love every kind of tea (there are so many), so if yabao doesn’t end up being a favorite of yours, no one can say you wrote it off hastily at all. Many people wouldn’t be so patient.

I’ll let you know how tonight’s cold-brew goes tomorrow!

sidenote: As for my “big bags” comment, I was thinking of two things that have happened to me with yabao. I bought some when I was down in Kunming a few years ago, along with some other pu’ers. I got a half jin (just under 9oz I think?) of some funky tou chas to take home for friends, and while it was heavy, it fit just fine in my backpack. When I found yabao, I thought I’d get a half jin, too, and had to do a double-take when it was all packed up. Ended up having to stick the bag under my seat on the plane because it was so big! I could have used it as a pillow.
Later I packed up some yabao and other teas for friends last holiday season, and I had to use two bags of yabao for every one of green tea (or half bag of TGY!).

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Jim Marks said

It is definitely bulky stuff.

I’m not expecting a shut, just expecting not to have to put my entire consciousness into the cup to believe I’m not drinking water.

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I have done a cold steep of it overnight. I had great results, but then again I just love yabao. I have both the aged and the just picked. The aged is the only one I have cold brewed.

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Jim Marks said

Sounds like I’ll be giving it a try, then.

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