72
drank Silver Buds Yabao by Verdant Tea
2494 tasting notes

Um, I think I may have stepped into “too weird for me” territory with this one.

The smell is… really weird. Kind of familiar, but not from any teas I’ve been drinking. I think it’s a plant smell, though. Not sure it’s a smell I want in my mouth, but my level of caring is definitely low enough right now that I’ll do it.

Sooooo here goes…

Ok, it’s sweet. And the sweetness cuts some of the “weird”, but it’s still there. It almost like… a green branch taste?? Actually, I wonder if what it’s reminding me of is apple tree cuttings. My mom would prune the apple trees in our yard in the spring, and when the cuttings were still supple (and we were young), my sister and I would sometimes take them and strip off the bark to reach green fibrous tissue underneath. Beneath that was the wood, which we’d then use as, say, walking sticks for our Barbies (which often went camping in the garden). My plant brain isn’t working tonight; I should know what those two parts are, oh well. So yeah, the green fibrous stuff would get under our fingernails, and I probably chewed on the branch to get it off sometimes. I think that’s the flavour I’m tasting. Makes a bit of sense, really, given that these are buds.

Gotta say though, even knowing that, this tea is still weird. It’s not bad, but… I don’t think it’s one for me. I will say that it’s grown on me through drinking this cup, and I’ll probably go for another couple infusions, but still, it’s weird :P (Side note: I can taste the “tea” flavour lightly at the end of the sip, which is nice, but not enough for me.)

ETA: Yeah, it’s two days later and wanted to clear out my infuser so I could drink some green teas, but couldn’t bear to throw these once-used buds out… so gave it another shot.

Second infusion (boiling/4min): The buds seem to have lost some of their “weird” smell and smell much sweeter, with a background of “tea”. Yep, I’m very descriptive tonight. The steeped tea smells more like a sweet white tea now, which is much more appealing. The taste is definitely similar to the previous, but with the aforementioned switch from predominantly weird to predominantly sweet and white-tea-like. I think I’ve finally figured out part of what I’m tasting though – this tea is peppery. Like steeped black pepper, but only a touch, which comes with a light zing. I actually like this particular infusion. I wonder if perhaps I should have just rinsed the leaves a bit longer in the beginning. I really need to look up proper rinsing technique. I also almost want to say that I’m almost tasting juniper. Both the pepperiness and juniper would have been present in that first infusion, just unidentified. Based on this infusion alone, I’m bumping the rating; perhaps this is not my cup of tea, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Third infusion (boiling/4min):
After this infusion was finished, I smelled the wet buds and got that intense “weird” aroma again, and was quite worried that this cup would be back to a flavour I don’t like. Luckily, not true. It’s very much like a lighter version of infusion 2. Pleasant lingering white tea aftertaste, delicious sweetness. I should have also mentioned that there’s no hint whatsoever of astringency or bitterness.

So, it looks like perhaps I just need to begin with a longer first rinse for this tea, or maybe steep it for a couple minutes and discard that infusion, to let the strange flavours weaken a bit. This ended up being quite an interesting experience, as it turned out! Glad I only bought the budset sampler though :)

ETA again: Another quick note – the sweetness in this tea lingers like that from fennel/anise/licorice. I seem to dislike that, so I suppose that’s another unappealing factor for me.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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