2009 Late-Winter Budset Yabao
Dry Leaf: Yabao is in a class of its own. Unlike any other teas, the buds are picked from ancient tea trees in middle to late winter when the bud is still tightly compacted and encased in a protective shell as it awaits spring. This particular Yabao is composed of very large buds that have not begun to open yet and allowed to sun dry completely without any other processing, making this more similar to yellow or white tea than to pu’er. Still, like pu’er yabao is aged to greater complexity.
Aroma: Intense aroma of pine needles with a heady and thick smell of snickerdoodle cookies baking.
Color: Extremely light. Almost clear.
Flavor: This unique tea has intense flavors of mulling spice, paired with cedar wood. There is a floral texture and the sweetness of marshmallow. The cedar grows with each steeping until it evokes the feeling of being in a cedar wood sauna. The texture becomes velvety.
Notes: Yabao is very hard to find. It has not developed a following in China yet, making production quite low. I believe that its audience is in America, where tea drinkers are not yet set in tradition, and people are open to new things. Yabao is a perfect gateway to aged teas, because it is much more mild than conventional pu’er, while still growing in depth and complexity over time. I have a single brick of 15 year old yabao, and it is simply my absolute best tea. Age some for yourself and see what yabao has to offer.