Okay, I am going to try to keep this one short. Knowing me, I will probably fail. I have been working on a small sample bag of this tea for the past two days and should finish it by tomorrow. Since I find writing about yabao difficult, I’m just going to record my first impressions as clearly and succinctly as possible in this review.
I brewed this one gongfu style. I followed Verdant’s gongfu guidelines closely this time around. Following the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose buds in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I performed eleven additional infusions, increasing the steep time by 10 seconds per infusion. So, steep times on the additional infusions ranged from 20 seconds to 2 minutes.
Prior to infusion, the dry buds gave off a subtle aroma that reminded me of spices and herbs. After the rinse, I noted a combination of spices, herbs, pine, juniper, cedar, and citrus on the nose, but I was not particularly able to pick out clear impressions. In the mouth, I noted a blend of straw, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, pine, juniper berry, cedar, eucalyptus, clove, and lemon on the early infusions. The middle infusions were sweeter and fruitier. I began to note impressions of peach, apricot, yellow plum, oatmeal, and marshmallow beneath the woody, spicy, and herbal sensations. Later infusions continued to emphasize sweeter aromas and flavors, though I could still detect impressions of oatmeal, straw, pine, cedar, lemon, and juniper lurking in the background. I also noted a subtle minerality on these infusions, though it was not particularly distracting.
Well, now that I have completely failed at writing a short review, allow me to state that I found this tea to be very enjoyable. I’m still not particularly familiar with yabao, so I do not know what separates a decent one from a great one, but I did very much enjoy this offering. As a matter of fact, I have only had one other tea of this type (the yabao offered by Whispering Pines), and I have to say that I found this one to be the better and more accessible of the two. In the end, I would recommend this tea to drinkers specifically looking for something subtle, graceful, deep, and challenging.
Flavors: Apricot, Cardamon, Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Marshmallow, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Peach, Pine, Plums, Straw