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Hmm… Not sure I did this one justice. I’ve been having a bit of issue figuring out new teas in my collection, lately. Just yesterday I ruined my entire Xingyang 2007 shu sample because I brewed it incorrectly. I may have gone to the other extreme and underdone it with this yabao. Fortunately, that means I still have enough leaf to try again later!

I used about 3 teaspoons of the yabao in my decidedly huge swan yixing, about 10 oz. I used boiling water to rinse the leaves and the pot, then used boiling water for a few seconds to make each steeping. I made it to around four steepings with some help drinking the tea – otherwise in pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to drink so much tea!

The smell of the wet leaves is sweet and delicate. I can definitely pick up on the pine needles the description mentions. I’m not sure I’m reminded of snickerdoodles, but there’s definitely a lightly spiced smell. The brewed tea is alarmingly clear and colourless – they really weren’t kidding!

As for the taste… I definitely did something wrong, as I can barely taste anything. What I can pick up, is lovely, though. It’s sweet, and it lingers. It reminds me of the bite of pine needles without the followthrough of pine needle taste, if that makes sense. There’s a toastiness, but whether I’d call it marshmallow, I am just not sure. It’s very nice, really, but I need to brew it properly to get a good idea of what I’m tasting.

Gonna hold back on rating it for now. I have a feeling this is something I could rate much higher than I would right now.

Oh! As an amusing postscript, my boyfriend walked in as I was cleaning out the pot, and thought there were insects in my tea. “You eat crazy things, wouldn’t put it past you to drink them too!” Ha.

Preparation
Boiling
Nathaniel Gruber

fascinating stuff. this one is hard to add too much leaf to. it’s pretty durable. if you were adding 10 grams to your gaiwan, then you must have a HUGE gaiwan! in my 5 oz. gaiwan i generally use 4 grams or so. so to use 10 grams and not get much taste from it probably means either that the gaiwan is enormous, or perhaps something with the water? reverse osmosis water will take flavor away from tea, and with a lighter tea such as this one you run the risk of losing out on some of the subtlety for sure. fascinating though. i’m intrigued to solve this little riddle for you.

Geoffrey

10oz is a very large vessel for this. I brew it in a small 3oz gaiwan, and fill that to about half it’s capacity with buds (a couple tablespoons). It will deliver a vivid flavor with the right leaf to water ratio. I then do many short steepings, starting with 5-10 seconds, and adding additional time as I proceed with further infusions. With that leaf to water ratio, it can pretty much be re-steeped indefinitely in my experience, and I just keep steeping until I’m ready to move on to something else. Boiling water is fine for this stuff, but as Nate suggests you should avoid certain kinds of water like reverse-osmosis or distilled, or water that has been previously re-bioled a few times. I find filtered or spring water, freshly boiled, to be the best for tea brewing. Hopefully these comments are helpful. Happy drinking!

smartkitty

Nathaniel – my swan yixing is indeed enormous. If you can believe it, I own an even bigger one! (20 oz) I’m really learning to appreciate the smaller gaiwans and yixings, especially with anything Verdant has to offer. I use tap water with a Brita filter, though it’s possible I overboiled the water.

Geoffrey – I agree with you. I love my swan yixing but it’s just TOO big for just about anything I’m drinking these days.

Also, question for both of you – are you using actual measuring spoons or normal spoons? What’s the spoon to gram of tea measure?

Geoffrey

Spoon to gram measure is going to be different for each kind of tea, because the weight to volume of each tea can vary dramatically. A gram-sensitive food scale is better for measuring by weight, but when you’ve done enough weighing for each kind of tea you can start to eyeball these measurements. At home, I typically use measuring spoons when I’m measuring out, and with that I just use rules of thumb developed from experience. Otherwise, I’ll just eyeball it when I’m pouring or pinching out tea quantities from a bag. I might measure weight if I had a food scale at home, but I don’t have one. Do you use a scale at home, Nate?

Brita filtered water is fine. That’s the same as what I use at home. Just watch out for re-boiling the same water too much.

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Nathaniel Gruber

fascinating stuff. this one is hard to add too much leaf to. it’s pretty durable. if you were adding 10 grams to your gaiwan, then you must have a HUGE gaiwan! in my 5 oz. gaiwan i generally use 4 grams or so. so to use 10 grams and not get much taste from it probably means either that the gaiwan is enormous, or perhaps something with the water? reverse osmosis water will take flavor away from tea, and with a lighter tea such as this one you run the risk of losing out on some of the subtlety for sure. fascinating though. i’m intrigued to solve this little riddle for you.

Geoffrey

10oz is a very large vessel for this. I brew it in a small 3oz gaiwan, and fill that to about half it’s capacity with buds (a couple tablespoons). It will deliver a vivid flavor with the right leaf to water ratio. I then do many short steepings, starting with 5-10 seconds, and adding additional time as I proceed with further infusions. With that leaf to water ratio, it can pretty much be re-steeped indefinitely in my experience, and I just keep steeping until I’m ready to move on to something else. Boiling water is fine for this stuff, but as Nate suggests you should avoid certain kinds of water like reverse-osmosis or distilled, or water that has been previously re-bioled a few times. I find filtered or spring water, freshly boiled, to be the best for tea brewing. Hopefully these comments are helpful. Happy drinking!

smartkitty

Nathaniel – my swan yixing is indeed enormous. If you can believe it, I own an even bigger one! (20 oz) I’m really learning to appreciate the smaller gaiwans and yixings, especially with anything Verdant has to offer. I use tap water with a Brita filter, though it’s possible I overboiled the water.

Geoffrey – I agree with you. I love my swan yixing but it’s just TOO big for just about anything I’m drinking these days.

Also, question for both of you – are you using actual measuring spoons or normal spoons? What’s the spoon to gram of tea measure?

Geoffrey

Spoon to gram measure is going to be different for each kind of tea, because the weight to volume of each tea can vary dramatically. A gram-sensitive food scale is better for measuring by weight, but when you’ve done enough weighing for each kind of tea you can start to eyeball these measurements. At home, I typically use measuring spoons when I’m measuring out, and with that I just use rules of thumb developed from experience. Otherwise, I’ll just eyeball it when I’m pouring or pinching out tea quantities from a bag. I might measure weight if I had a food scale at home, but I don’t have one. Do you use a scale at home, Nate?

Brita filtered water is fine. That’s the same as what I use at home. Just watch out for re-boiling the same water too much.

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Bibliophile and language junkie. Now decidedly tea-crazed. Trying to convince The Boy that tea tastes like more than just hot water. Cat-lady and rat-lady in the making.

From San Juan, Puerto Rico. Adopted Bostonian. Current long-time Chicagoan. Up, up, up the ziggurat. Lickety-split!

I like an interesting tea, so I’m expanding my tea stash daily. As well as my teaware collection.

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