This is one of those teas that has me mystified. I have read all the positive reviews, and I am a big fan of Yunnan Yabao tea, and yet this version tastes nothing like I had hoped. I have made three valiant efforts over the past week, doing multiple steepings at different temperatures, and all I get is tea water that tastes of old hay. :(
I’m not putting a numerical rating for now, since my experience was so different from everyone else — I thought I had a pretty good palate, but this leaves me with a big question mark…

Kashyap

white tea has a vibrant shelf life of about 6-8 months…and i would dare say if the tea is not a sheng pu-erh or a dan cong and is over 2 years old, I would expect it to be quite stale and flavorless and to have lost much of its complexity…my guess is your palate is fine…the tea is just…er….old

Jesse Örö

White tea is quite interesting. As far as I know, oxidation of whit tea is not fully stopped, as it is only sun dryed. So, theoretically it will oxidize with time, possibly changing, maybe even developing it’s flavour. But well, it is supposed to be drank fresh, and by your description I would think that aging white is not that good idea.

David Duckler

Yabao is a little different. In China it is actually aged, both loose and in bricks. The younger stuff tastes more similar to a white tea, though with more honey and less of the crisp vegetal notes. As it gets older, you get more and more spice out of it. I have a 15 year old brick of the stuff that has aged fantastically. I think it is treated more like sheng pu’er. As for the hay taste, I can see where you are coming from. I think it has developed a mustiness, but I like the way it pairs with the pine notes. This is the most intense Yabao I tried when picking one out. Most of what you get in America is much lighter. People are somewhat split with this tea. I do know a few people who dislike those notes you are getting and prefer an older brick version I have that is way sweeter and creamier. It is good to hear another perspective on it as I decide which one to bring in next. Thanks!

As for aging straight white tea: Definitely! My friends in China love to pull out their 20 year silver needle and white peony when I visit. Interesting stuff. My only concern is that it sometimes seems less rewarding than aging a more traditional sheng pu’er, since the changes are way more subtle.

I am working on finding some good white teas. I have tried over 50 samples from farmer friends, but I think I am closing in a source. When I do get it in, it will be absolutely fresh. I would be embarrassed to sell any tea that wasn’t supposed to be aged if it were more than a few months old. I buy before the picking and arrange 2 day air shipping to get the teas in the same week they are processed.

E Alexander Gerster

Thanks for your words on Yabao. It is interesting how we develop different likes and dislikes — which are based on a wide range of perceptions in our brain as well as the taste buds in our mouth. Even when I don’t “Like” a tea, I am generally glad to try it, because I learn something new! I tend to pick up on mustiness in teas (and wines, etc) that others don’t. Wish I could selectively turn it off. :)

David Duckler

I know what you mean. I always get at least 3 or 4 other people to come by for a tasting before picking out teas to bring in, because, like you said, so much of taste is based in the brain, and linked to memory. My favorite party game is to have everyone taste a tea and fill out a tasting chart, and then compare the radically different responses. (Super nerdy, but hey…) If you do end up ordering again, I will put a sample of another Yabao in the box that the people who disliked this one tended to like. Mysteries like this are what keep tea fun and interesting.

Spoonvonstup

Wow! I am so sad to hear that this tea didn’t perform for you! I am also quite mystified, too. I wish I lived somewhere near Florida at all so I could come visit you and make this tea for you and find out what the difference was and what happened.

The only time this tea hasn’t been sweet, sparkling and delicious for me was when I brought some to work and experimented with putting it in a tea bag. The paper of the bag seemed to suck up too much of the flavor and replace it with it’s own paper-y aftertaste, and I realized later that I actually hadn’t put enough tea in the bags. This tea is really light, but really large in terms of individual bud size, which might lead some to just not use enough leaf. (First time I bought this tea, I asked for an ounce, and as the store measured it out, they just kept pouring, and pouring, and pouring……).

I even had this the other day iced, and it stood up to the tuna / risotto / roasted asparagus of my dinner meal. I filled a brew basket about 3/4 of the way with buds (maybe more) and put it in a tea pot that brews for two standard-sized coffee mugs. I filled the tea pot all the way with boiling (212 C) water, and then left it to go set the table and carry the food into the dining room. It probably steeped for five or six minutes. I then poured the tea out into two tall glasses that were about 3/4 full of ice (8 cubes). The cubes melted almost instantly, and then I added three more cubes to each to actually make the drink cold.
Even after all of that extra water melting in and the savory taste of the food, the tea was still the delicious thing I’ve loved so much! Extremely sweet in a sparkling way, very full and thick and unexpectedly floral.

Could you describe the three different ways you tried making this tea? I want to try a replicate it at home to see what I get out of the tea. As much detail as possible would be helpful, ie: how many grams of tea (or how much of a brew basket, etc), how big was the pot/gaiwan/etc, how hot was the water, how long did you steep, what kind of water did you use (tap, filtered, bottled, distilled, reverse osmosis)?

I will confidently back up what Verdant says about Yabao and aged white tea, and I’m sure there are many others around steepster who could do the same. I lived in China for about a year, and learned most of my Chinese spending my weekends at a tea market. There was one woman who specialized in selling white tea only, and she had several vintages of bricks of white tea that she was selling; about half of her shelves were full of beautiful bricks! Another good tea friend of mine had a stash of 1992 bai mu dan (white peony) that she pulled out for us to try on several different occasions: it still had that great texture of white tea, but the citrus-y notes of white peony had blossomed into something really full and juicy and intriguing and mouth-watering.
Yabao is really really fun, and it really does get more delicious over time. I would recommend it to anyone hands down as an easy to tea that doesn’t fail to impress.

Oh E.A.Gerster! I am so puzzled and sorry that this didn’t seem to perform for you like it never fails to do for me! If I’m ever headed over your way, or if you ever find yourself in Minnesota, I want to get together and make this tea for you (along with a bunch of others, of course! it’s always so fun to meet new tea friends).
Looking forward to hearing about the details about how your prepared this tea so I can experiment at home.

E Alexander Gerster

Spoonvonstup – Thanks for your post! I wish I was in the Minnesota area so I could share a cup, or two with you. :) I’ll send you a post with my various tries at this one, and maybe you will find out what I was doing wrong… Or that my taste buds need a serious tune-up. :)
Not many friends here in Miami that want to join me for tea. The one or two TeaGeeks that I know are pretty addicted to black teas, and are not too adventurous. More soon…

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Kashyap

white tea has a vibrant shelf life of about 6-8 months…and i would dare say if the tea is not a sheng pu-erh or a dan cong and is over 2 years old, I would expect it to be quite stale and flavorless and to have lost much of its complexity…my guess is your palate is fine…the tea is just…er….old

Jesse Örö

White tea is quite interesting. As far as I know, oxidation of whit tea is not fully stopped, as it is only sun dryed. So, theoretically it will oxidize with time, possibly changing, maybe even developing it’s flavour. But well, it is supposed to be drank fresh, and by your description I would think that aging white is not that good idea.

David Duckler

Yabao is a little different. In China it is actually aged, both loose and in bricks. The younger stuff tastes more similar to a white tea, though with more honey and less of the crisp vegetal notes. As it gets older, you get more and more spice out of it. I have a 15 year old brick of the stuff that has aged fantastically. I think it is treated more like sheng pu’er. As for the hay taste, I can see where you are coming from. I think it has developed a mustiness, but I like the way it pairs with the pine notes. This is the most intense Yabao I tried when picking one out. Most of what you get in America is much lighter. People are somewhat split with this tea. I do know a few people who dislike those notes you are getting and prefer an older brick version I have that is way sweeter and creamier. It is good to hear another perspective on it as I decide which one to bring in next. Thanks!

As for aging straight white tea: Definitely! My friends in China love to pull out their 20 year silver needle and white peony when I visit. Interesting stuff. My only concern is that it sometimes seems less rewarding than aging a more traditional sheng pu’er, since the changes are way more subtle.

I am working on finding some good white teas. I have tried over 50 samples from farmer friends, but I think I am closing in a source. When I do get it in, it will be absolutely fresh. I would be embarrassed to sell any tea that wasn’t supposed to be aged if it were more than a few months old. I buy before the picking and arrange 2 day air shipping to get the teas in the same week they are processed.

E Alexander Gerster

Thanks for your words on Yabao. It is interesting how we develop different likes and dislikes — which are based on a wide range of perceptions in our brain as well as the taste buds in our mouth. Even when I don’t “Like” a tea, I am generally glad to try it, because I learn something new! I tend to pick up on mustiness in teas (and wines, etc) that others don’t. Wish I could selectively turn it off. :)

David Duckler

I know what you mean. I always get at least 3 or 4 other people to come by for a tasting before picking out teas to bring in, because, like you said, so much of taste is based in the brain, and linked to memory. My favorite party game is to have everyone taste a tea and fill out a tasting chart, and then compare the radically different responses. (Super nerdy, but hey…) If you do end up ordering again, I will put a sample of another Yabao in the box that the people who disliked this one tended to like. Mysteries like this are what keep tea fun and interesting.

Spoonvonstup

Wow! I am so sad to hear that this tea didn’t perform for you! I am also quite mystified, too. I wish I lived somewhere near Florida at all so I could come visit you and make this tea for you and find out what the difference was and what happened.

The only time this tea hasn’t been sweet, sparkling and delicious for me was when I brought some to work and experimented with putting it in a tea bag. The paper of the bag seemed to suck up too much of the flavor and replace it with it’s own paper-y aftertaste, and I realized later that I actually hadn’t put enough tea in the bags. This tea is really light, but really large in terms of individual bud size, which might lead some to just not use enough leaf. (First time I bought this tea, I asked for an ounce, and as the store measured it out, they just kept pouring, and pouring, and pouring……).

I even had this the other day iced, and it stood up to the tuna / risotto / roasted asparagus of my dinner meal. I filled a brew basket about 3/4 of the way with buds (maybe more) and put it in a tea pot that brews for two standard-sized coffee mugs. I filled the tea pot all the way with boiling (212 C) water, and then left it to go set the table and carry the food into the dining room. It probably steeped for five or six minutes. I then poured the tea out into two tall glasses that were about 3/4 full of ice (8 cubes). The cubes melted almost instantly, and then I added three more cubes to each to actually make the drink cold.
Even after all of that extra water melting in and the savory taste of the food, the tea was still the delicious thing I’ve loved so much! Extremely sweet in a sparkling way, very full and thick and unexpectedly floral.

Could you describe the three different ways you tried making this tea? I want to try a replicate it at home to see what I get out of the tea. As much detail as possible would be helpful, ie: how many grams of tea (or how much of a brew basket, etc), how big was the pot/gaiwan/etc, how hot was the water, how long did you steep, what kind of water did you use (tap, filtered, bottled, distilled, reverse osmosis)?

I will confidently back up what Verdant says about Yabao and aged white tea, and I’m sure there are many others around steepster who could do the same. I lived in China for about a year, and learned most of my Chinese spending my weekends at a tea market. There was one woman who specialized in selling white tea only, and she had several vintages of bricks of white tea that she was selling; about half of her shelves were full of beautiful bricks! Another good tea friend of mine had a stash of 1992 bai mu dan (white peony) that she pulled out for us to try on several different occasions: it still had that great texture of white tea, but the citrus-y notes of white peony had blossomed into something really full and juicy and intriguing and mouth-watering.
Yabao is really really fun, and it really does get more delicious over time. I would recommend it to anyone hands down as an easy to tea that doesn’t fail to impress.

Oh E.A.Gerster! I am so puzzled and sorry that this didn’t seem to perform for you like it never fails to do for me! If I’m ever headed over your way, or if you ever find yourself in Minnesota, I want to get together and make this tea for you (along with a bunch of others, of course! it’s always so fun to meet new tea friends).
Looking forward to hearing about the details about how your prepared this tea so I can experiment at home.

E Alexander Gerster

Spoonvonstup – Thanks for your post! I wish I was in the Minnesota area so I could share a cup, or two with you. :) I’ll send you a post with my various tries at this one, and maybe you will find out what I was doing wrong… Or that my taste buds need a serious tune-up. :)
Not many friends here in Miami that want to join me for tea. The one or two TeaGeeks that I know are pretty addicted to black teas, and are not too adventurous. More soon…

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I have been drinking tea for most of my life, and enjoy learning about Tea Culture from all around the world. I learned early about Russian and British traditions first, since my parents came from Europe, followed by the teas and culture of Ceylon/Sri Lanka and India. Since I have been a practicing Buddhist for the better part of 25 years, I have strong ties to Asia, and have slowly been learning about the teas from each part of the world I encounter. It is a wonderful and interesting journey.

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