Thick, brothy and extremely savory, with lingering camphor notes. This is a tea that evokes warmth throughout the body and provides excellent clarity of mind and focus. This is one of the best Yabao that I’ve tried anywhere. Its one of my favorites!
“Everytime I drink this, the flavor automatically just seems SO familiar. It's a cooked breakfast cereal: Cream of wheat, or maybe steel cut oats, cooked overnight in the crockpot. There is a pool...” Read full tasting note
“I have a terrible track record for this tea. I think I am under-leafing and under-steeping it because it's mostly just water. It's such a pretty tea to waste. I steeped it a second time for 10...” Read full tasting note
“I have been playing around with this tea to figure out the best way to steep it. Definitely more leaves and more time if you want a richer cup. I iced some buds a few days ago and have been french...” Read full tasting note
“Cold steeped over night in the French press (to keep the buds in the water) in the fridge. The result is much more profound than the hot steepings have been. There is a long, mouth sticking...” Read full tasting note
Workshop: Xingchen Workshop
Region: Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China
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 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: Heady and thick smell of snickerdoodle cookies baking and a trace of pine needles.
Color: Extremely light. Almost clear.
Flavor: This unique tea has intense flavors of mulling spice. There is a floral texture and the sweetness of marshmallow. The texture becomes velvety over many steepings.
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.
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2009 Late-Winter Budset YabaoVerdant Tea
Auggy sent me another care package. It’s huge! She spoils me rotten, that woman. Note that I’m not complaining. It’s very hot here at the moment. I’ve heard rumours that there’s a chance we’ll hit 30°C Sunday and/or Monday, but I sincerely hope it will remain a rumour. I know that’s nothing compared to the around 40°C that I’ve heard the East Coast of the US is dealing with these days, but it’s still WAY too hot for me. (40°C? I would melt and I would be incredibly miserable while doing so! Just warm enough that I don’t have to wear a jacket, that’s my ideal temperature).
Given the sunny weather, I thought we should start with something not black, and I went for this one.
This stuff is funny. It’s not really leaf. It’s more like… small fat buds, several of them put together. It remids me mostly of a miniature sheaf of wheat or some such. It has a funny aroma too. I swear it smells almost exactly like warm sugar. Strange.
The tea is nearly colourless after brewing. I wonder if I should have used more not-leaf? Maybe I should, although Verdant’s description says it supposed to be very pale. It also doesn’t really have much in the way of aroma at first, but after it has been allowed a short time to rest and develop, I’m getting a minty note. Sort of spearminty, I think. I’m not superkeen on spearmint so this is where I’m hoping I haven’t just made a cup of liquid toothpaste.
It’s not liquid toothpaste, it’s… It’s… It’s a bit like if you take a coffee pot, well used and none too clean, and pour boiling water in it. Then leave that to steep for a while and taste the outcome. I imagine it might taste something like this. Or perhaps if you then steeped some chamomile in it as well, that might be closer. Chamomile with coffee notes.
The description says that this is a type that has never really won the hearts of Chinese consumers, so it’s relatively rare. I have to say I can see why. And I wouldn’t particularly mind it if it stayed that way. This is definitely not for me.
Thanks, to the Ducklers for this tea as a sample in my last order.
First steep: 3 minutes at 168F. There is so much going on with this tea, it’s hard for me to put into words what I’m experiencing. On first taste the tea seems tart and sweet like cranberries can be. The second note is mellower- vegetal, like creamed lettuce (if there is such a thing)or boiled and mashed chestnut. Either way that second note is softer and richer. At the very, very end of the taste I swear there is just the slightest bit of licorice because there is a lingering sweetness. Overall the impression is of a bright, crisp taste which is fruity at first and then vegetal.
This is definitely the WRONG time for me to be tasting such a delicate tea for the first time-I’ve got a cold and my sense of taste and smell have definitely been deadened a bit. I was determined to taste a cup today anyway, because I’m placing a Verdant order today. (Last day of Laoshan teas 25% off!) Thanks so much for including this in our swap BrewTEAlly Sweet!
My first steep has a pine/spicy note. Completely unlike anything I’ve ever tasted! I would call this steep savory and not sweet.
2nd steep and the spicy pine note has blossomed a bit more. The liquor feels thick but tastes so light!
I’m definitely going to need to at least get another sample of this when I order today, so I can try it again when my palette is clear.
I feel like I’m tasting the secret heart of the tree. Something pure and wild and normally meant only for itself. This may not end up being something I want to drink every day, but it is definitely something I’d like to explore in more detail! Thanks again BrewTEAlly Sweet!!!
This has a sweetness, like cinnamon, gooey sugar, and ripe canteloupe, that sticks to the back of the throat after taking a big gulp. It’s such a vivid and shocking note after gliding along the grassy, cedar aroma.
Edit: The cantaloupe sweetness receded in the third steep, becoming more like apple juice, while the cedar note took it up a notch. Something reminds me of juniper berries.
I guess it was the right decision to dump the whole sample bag in my tiny glass gongfu. I did two rinses, and hope to get as many short steeps out of this one as I can tonight while I study for my last final. Almost done!
From the Great Canadian TTB.
This is my first crack at white pu’erh. I am a bit skeptical due to my experiences with black pu’erh but I am willing to try.
I did a quick rise as recommended by Verdant and steeped for only 2 minutes. The recommended steeping time was 4 minutes but I wanted to keep it light just in case.
The smell of the brewed tea is slightly sweet. There is definitely a pine scent. But it is not fresh pine. It reminds me of an old, dried out Christmas tea thats been sitting for a while after the holiday season. I am also getting a burnt sugar taste, like when you are BBQing and the BBQ sauce burns on the grill.
The brewed tea is quite unexpectedly sweet. There is a bit of that old pine flavour. There is that slight burnt BBQ sauce flavour but it is much stronger in smell. There are a strong vegetal and floral components to the taste. Reminds me of dandelions but without the bitterness. KS suggested white pu’erh tasted similar to white peony tea, and I would agree. Except the pu’erh is much thicker and more in depth I flavour.
I wouldn’t say this is something I would buy for myself or stock in my cupboard. I certainly think I would try other white varieties if they came to me but I wouldn’t search them out. At lease I can drink this colour of pu’erh :P
Eight Treasures Yabao is probably my favorite Verdant blend so when Terri HarpLady sent me some of the yabao, I was excited, why did it take me this long to get to it? Ha.
Immediately after being hit with water, these buds smell like hay, almost exactly like a white tea, and sweet marshmallows, with just a little mint. I did two rinses and I’m steeping for five seconds.
First steep: still got that mintiness and a bit of other spice, but with sweetness. It also tastes a bit like a hint of sparkling water was added to the cup.
I ended up steeping this about 6 times before I got bored with it, I still have it in the infuser so I may save it for tomorrow. It continues to be sweet and sort of marshmallowy, with a hint of pine.
Just when I think I have a handle on the boundaries of the tea world this happens. Completely unlike anything I have experienced. It defies description but I’ll try. Marshmallows sprinkled with stone dust. Yep. I worked in the stone fabrication industry 31 years. That is what this reminds me of. Yet not. I’ll try again. The taste is like the scent of a newly pulled tree root with fresh damp earth still attached. While that sounds like a puerh description this is completely different. I also catch very light cinnamon and apple with a herbal note – maybe basil. I liked how different this is. Thanks Terri. I took a trip and never left the farm with this one.
Sorry to be absent for a while on Steepster. We have been busy putting the finishing touches on our new website. With that done, I hope to contribute more to the conversations here, and answer whatever questions I am able to.
I thought that with the season, yabao would be a good tea to meditate on. Here in Minnesota, all the trees are just bursting with little “yabao” buds. They are those hard buds ready to unfold into a clump of leaves. I can only imagine the little buds in Yunnan right now and the Xingchen workshop busy picking.
I stumbled upon Yabao as a complete accident. I drank tea with the same vendor every day for a month or so, and each day they would pull out something new and crazy to challenge me, asking me questions about what I tasted. Finally, they ran out of new things to show me, until he remembered yabao.
The vendor looked sort of shifty-eyed around him before pulling a pressed brick of the buds out from under his desk. He wouldn’t say a word about it before I tried it. When I was at a loss for words, tasting something I had never before experienced, a look of triumph appeared on his face. “I bet you have never had THIS one before, huh?”
He was right! I didn’t even know what those strange little buds could be. He explained that they are picked in late winter and that only a few of them can be taken from each tree so as not to stunt the tree’s growth. I unfolded a bud for me and showed how many layers they have. We counted over a dozen.
I resolved to get some of this tea. I went back every day asking him about the yabao, but he didn’t want to part with any. He only had nine bricks. Finally, right before I left, he gave me one of his bricks. Last time I was in China, he was pleased to hear that I was going to brew it at my wedding for the guests.
The woman in Kunming who represents Xingchen workshop was so surprised when I walked into her shop and immediately identified a bag of yabao. She practically jumped out of her seat. “Don’t you want jasmine or something? How do you know about yabao?” I explained to her trying it before, and she invited me to sit for the full afternoon drinking some pretty crazy teas.
I was able to get back in touch with her workshop when I started Verdant Tea. In fact, yabao was one of the teas I was most excited to share when I was just getting started. It is a subtle experience to be sure, but one whose depth is rewarding under the right circumstances. I enjoy yabao the most in the evenings when it is dark and quiet, as it reminds me of mulling spice, of cedar wood chests, and the like. It is fun to see others discovering yabao as well. Happy tasting!