You know what’s absolutely amazing with this tea?
Monkey bread. Seriously. I know that’s probably tea-blasphemy or something but it seriously works together in an I NEVER WANT THIS TO END sort of way.
“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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Appearance: large buds, reminiscent of the tops of wheat, mostly pale blond, with hints of sandy coloration
Aroma when Dry: sticky spiced vanilla
After water is first poured: pine, citrus, melon and sweet cream
At end of first steep: same
At end of first steep: clear
Preferred time of day: unsure, first tasting
At first: bright, melon tangy,
As it cools ? Notes open, tea gets velvety, fuzzy, then fluffy and brothy
Additives used (milk, honey, sugar etc)? No
Lingers? Yes, with a fuzzy, creamy texture melon and honey notes
Second steep: (1 min)
Aroma: bitter melon
At first: bitter, sour, layered, fuzzy, then pine notes
As it cools: salty notes surface, tea gets increasingly sour notes that linger, then tea sweetens again, into salty brothyness, starts to close on lemony note
Third Steep (2 min)
Aroma: bitter melon, lighter notes, cucumber minty
At first: bitter, and then cloying sweet cocoa nutty cookie, closing on spiced vanilla notes
As it cools: cucumber melon cookie dough? notes
Fourth Steep (2 min)
Aroma: melon, lemon
At first: silky melon floral, with lemon
As it cools: same notes, adding salty brothy notes
For the fact that this smells like trees, I’m immediately drawn to it. I am not disappointed with how it tastes, either. It looks like it will be a delicate tea, as it is pale when brewed, but the taste is complex and robust. Not robust like black tea; robust in its own way. I feel I need to be listening to serene and deeply troubled classical music (Moonlight Sonata) and watching snowflakes fall while drinking this tea. It’s different and flavorful, and I like it.
I used 1.5 Tablespoons for 8 oz of water, with a quick rinse.
Anyone know the relative amount of caffeine in this tea?
This just came in the mail yesterday, but I decided against trying it until after I tried the Yunnan Golden Buds. As an experiment, I decided to brew this tea Grandpa style, and I have to say the results were interesting. The first infusion was sweet and flowery, with an aroma that was reminiscent of fresh pines. There were also subtle spice flavors present, but they had not started to assert themselves yet. Past experience with Yabao tells me that they will get stronger over time, so I can’t wait to see how they develop. The only downside to this tea was that only half of the buds have sunken to the bottom of the cup, which is a bit annoying when trying to drink the tea.
I’m on infusion number five, and the only change to the flavor so far is that the spiciness – which peaked around infusion three – has started to fade. This is definitely my favorite white tea. I’m glad that I bought enough of this tea to last me quite a while, as it is very unique and is certainly much better than the standard fare for white tea.
I’ve been holding on to this sample of tea for too long! Friday night I finally got around to brewing it, and it lasted me over three days, and when I finally decided to move on to another tea, I believed it could have still been brewed more. I made this gong fu style, and I didn’t make tasting notes. The flavors/aromas/sensations were very much like what is described on the website (peppercorn, sparkling, linen, apple [didn’t really get so much of this], cedar). Through later steepings it begins to get more earthy and the spice notes go from being light and peppery to more of a cinnamon or allspice (although neither of those I think are quite it). In much later steepings it became very mineral-y. This was a great tea, and it inspired me to make a last-minute Verdant purchase before their sale ended. This has also really piqued my curiosity as to what an aged version of this would be like.
Wow, this is unlike any tea I’ve ever had. This is tea from another planet. The smell is grassy and vegetal but not like summer vegetation. You can smell the winter in the buds, there is an unripened quality to it. I did an initial rinse, didn’t know if it needed it and I steeped it for about a minute. The taste is a combination of pine needles and brown sugar, with a hint of wood. As I drink more the woody taste gets stronger and stronger, it’s almost like the taste of an old barn or shed. It also has a nice bite to it like a black tea. This tea seems to combine elements of white, green and black tea into a interesting hybrid of smells and tastes. Very interesting and I hope they produce more, I’d love to see the variations they could make.
This came in the December tea of the month club from Verdant.
What a unique tea . . . my first reaction was to think how strange it was, but by the fifth steep, I found I enjoyed it a lot.
The dry leaf of course didn’t look anything like tea, and smelled interesting, a little like hay. I brewed it western style, but in a kyusu. The first steeping was probably the least flavorful. Like hay, cedar, or dry pine needles. I expected some sweetness, as the tasting notes/suggestions said it is added to other teas to add sweetness, but the first steeping didn’t have any. It actually reminded me of sheng, because it caused the same drying sensation as I’ve experienced with young sheng.
The next four steepings were good, and even, getting better with each one. The drying sensation was no longer there, the hay became slightly more floral, and overall it began to be very juicy and slightly astringent. It was exactly like white grape juice, actually (without the sweetness). However, there was a sweetness present – not in the sip, but these last steepings left a very nice returning sweetness in the throat. That was easily my favorite part about this tea.
This tea is great it just for the aftertaste (which remains for quite a long time, too).
I can see why you would want to add this to another tea – it won’t have a significant impact on the other tea’s profile during the sip, but it will intensify the aftertaste noticeably, as well as add a juiciness. It would add more depth and interest to the other tea, without overpowering it. I look forward to mixing it with their Golden Buds (as suggested) to see the result.
I have had an utterly run of the mill day, woke up in the afternoon, sorted some mini hama beads, logged some tea review notes in my journal, watched some videos on youtube, got into yet another long winded Tolkien themed debate with Ben, and cooked some food. It was a completely standard day for me and I enjoyed the relaxed pace of it. Sadly that means I have no exciting stories and interesting anecdotes share, so I will make up for it with an interesting tea from my tea notebook.
Silver Buds Yabao by Verdant Tea is one of the great mysteries of the tea world (at least to me it is) picked in 2008 from winter buds in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan it manages to be both a white tea and a pu’er. You can see how I find it so mysterious, the buds look like adorable little catkins and is labeled by some as a white tea, but Verdant’s Yabao is aged and like pu’er, has aging potential (quoted from the website). To say I was intrigued by it was selling it short, I needed to try these ‘bud treasures’ as soon as possible. The aroma of this tea can be described as crisp, with strong notes of cedar and pine resin. There are lesser notes of pepper and sage and finished with a mild sweetness that tickles the nose as it leaves.
Once the buds are brewed their aroma becomes even more herbaceous, the notes of sage and hint of basil become the dominant aroma followed by under tones of cedar and pine resin. Again it finishes with sweetness. In the liquid I can pin down what that sweetness is, it is the aroma of fresh pine sap. The aroma of the liquid is very mellow and the notes of pine are sweet and delicate.
I was describing this tea to my grandmother the other day and I described it as ‘tasting like a winter forest smells’ which I enjoy, I love when a tea tastes very clearly of the season it was harvested in, like it captured a piece of time in their leaves. The initial tastes is sugar sweetness that fades fairly quickly to sage and then almost explodes into cedar. This tea leaves the mouth tasting like cedar long after sipping has finished. The mouth feel is tingly from the trichomes (plant fuzz for the non-botany savvy) and as the tea cools it becomes sweeter.
With the second steep the aroma wafting out of my teacup is even stronger notes of cedar and pine than the first steep. The taste is even sweeter that the first as well and when it transitions from sweet to cedar taste it had a very quick twinge of tart sweetness like sour apple which made my salivary glands twinge in a not unpleasant manner. The taste and aroma still remind me of winter in a pine forest, very crisp and clean.
The third and final steep has the aroma still being strong though not as much so, notes of cedar and sage with a hint of sweetness. The taste is mostly subdued, mild notes of cedar, sugar, and sage blending together. The finish is crisp and feels clean, I feel refreshed after drinking this tea. When I recorded the tasting notes for this tea it was a long way until winter (during a heat wave no less) and I was brewing it Western style. I recently received more tea for Christmas and plan on revisiting this tea Gongfu style to see if there are any major differences. This tea has a permanent place in my collection now.
Backlog from last night.
During my first steep of this, when I took out the tea strainer from my mug, I thought to myself, “Gosh, this looks so clear. Did I steep it wrong? I don’t think it’s ready yet.” But, I caught a whiff of something from the mug, which convinced me to take a sip.
Reading Verdant’s description of this tea gave me an idea of what the tea was like, but I still had no clue what I was tasting in my first few sips. At first, I thought I could taste some pine-iness, which was followed by a slight spiciness, joined with some sweetness, which lingered in the aftertaste. I was blown away by the complexities in what I was expecting would be a very watery/light tea.
With later steepings, the spiciness fades a bit, but the pine-iness remains. The sweetness changes from a rock candy-like sweet to a slightly marshmallow-y sweet.
As I was drinking this, I almost felt as if I were walking through a forest in New England. I wonder what would happen if I were to brew some pu-erh alongside this— I could get the earthy smell of a forest in the spring after some rain, along with the pine smell of the trees. A pine forest in my dorm room!
This was my first experience with Yabao Silver Buds. This is a very welcomed new experience. I already knew Puerh was world by itself but I had no idea it was so broad as to deconstruct my perception of Puerh and what to expect.
When dry it has very faint scents, that reminds me almost of freshly cut pine wood in the distance. While steeping the scent is more apparent but seems a little more wood like. The tea itself is very subtle and sweet, a bit spicy but not heavy more refreshing than anything. Once again, I’m glad I tried it.