2009 Late-Winter Budset Yabao

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Pu'erh Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by David Duckler
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190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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19 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I know everyone really loved this tea, but somehow it didn’t impress me as much. I brewed it western style. I brewed it in my gaiwan. It was good, yes, but something about it didn’t sit right with...” Read full tasting note
  • “An interesting tea!! Very unusual. I think I love it. :) I know I didn’t brew this perfectly. I just felt like I needed to try this today and so I threw it in my bag to try at work. (So my...” Read full tasting note
  • “Story Time: Well I have experienced food poisoning for the first time. I ate some of my left over stir fry that I think was a day or two past prime. For that night and to late after noon I was...” Read full tasting note
  • “This is one of those teas that has me mystified. I have read all the positive reviews, and I am a big fan of Yunnan Yabao tea, and yet this version tastes nothing like I had hoped. I have made...” Read full tasting note

From Verdant Tea

Year: 2009

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.

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19 Tasting Notes

139 tasting notes

I know everyone really loved this tea, but somehow it didn’t impress me as much. I brewed it western style. I brewed it in my gaiwan. It was good, yes, but something about it didn’t sit right with me. Eventually I put it in the cupboard and sort of forgot about it.

Until David of Verdant Tea put up that iced tea post,I had never even considered making ice tea with anything other than blacks and fruity teas. As it seems he had good results, I decided to experiment a little. Out came this tea – and a few other oolongs – from the far corner of my tea cupboard.

I cold brewed it overnight and the results are quite unbelievable!
This is iced tea perfection. It tastes and smells of pine trees. May seem sort of odd that something tastes like pine trees, but it’s subtle and refreshing and very good. It brings back memories of childhood, running around in the forest collecting pine cones.

It has a quiet elegance that I find is characteristic of many Chinese oolongs (I know this is not an oolong, but it’s gentle flavor reminds me of some oolongs).

From the corner of the cupboard to front and center!
I am in love with this tea.

Oh, and so far I’ve cold brewed these leaves 3 times and it’s still great. The first pitcher wad brewed for about 8 hours, the second for about 12, and the third for 24 hours. I wonder if I can do yet another….

Iced 4 min, 15 sec

oooh! I will have to try this with mine. :)


Cool! Did your buds ever sink to the bottom? Mm.. your description has me craving this, and we need a new iced-tea to brew over the weekend..


Some of the buds sank and some didn’t. You should definitely try it. It is so exciting to discover a whole new world of iced teas that I hadn’t even considered before. Tonight I’m going to do some iced TGY for tomorrow. I wonder how that will come out.
The only thing I think will not work is iced pu-er? THAT sounds strangest of all.


I cold steeped mine for 8 or 9 times! Sometimes leaving it in the fridge for ~36 hours. It starts to get such a subtle sweetness like marshmallows and pine! =)


*my silver buds yabao


8-9 times?? Wow! This tea is more amazing that I had thought. I got to 5 and thought I was pushing it :) I will have to try for more next time.

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314 tasting notes

An interesting tea!! Very unusual. I think I love it. :)

I know I didn’t brew this perfectly. I just felt like I needed to try this today and so I threw it in my bag to try at work. (So my impressions are based on roughly 1 teaspoon of tea and 190 degree hot spigot water in a 12.75 oz travel tea mug):

It smells like freshly peeled corn husks!! With slighty sappy, crisp evergreen and watermelon-like notes.

Tastes delicate and sweet, yet somehow has substance. No strong floral notes or spice—maybe a wisp of clover and grain with a sprinkle of sugar.

I love the scent the best and I also feel very calm and centered while drinking this.

It looks like a full-size order of Late-Winter Budset Yabao is in my future!

190 °F / 87 °C 8 min or more
Nathaniel Gruber

I too love this tea! The beautiful thing about this tea is that it is almost impossible to brew it incorrectly. It is so forgiving. Good description of it, too!


Yay! Thanks Nathaniel! I especially love teas that I don’t have to “baby”. This one is practially perfect in that way.


Ditto Nate’s comment. This tea is so ridiculously forgiving! I’ve definitely just thrown leaves (buds?) into a cup at work, and let them sit in water all day as I refilled with hot water.

The only way I wouldn’t recommend this tea is putting it into a fill-yourself tea bag. The ones I tried, at least, were made of a linen-y paper, and they ended up absorbing and masking a lot of the sugar-crystal sweetness and replacing it with..paper. Also, since the buds are so big, you don’t fit as much into a bag as you probably really need.

Glad you enjoyed this one! This kind of pu’er was the very first sheng I fell in love with, and my gateway drug into pu’ers. It’s so pleasant and forgiving; there’s no way to do it wrong, and everyone who tries it invariably enjoys themselves.

I’ve heard that Verdant is trying to bring in some Yabao pressed into bricks and much older than what they have already. If they ever do (fingers crossed!), I’d recommend you try some of that, too.


Hi Spoonvonstup (such a great name…how come I never thought of it??) I agree with you about forgiving teas! I think puerhs are forgiving in general, since they’ve had so much time to “mellow out”.

I don’t have much time for temperamental teas nowadays. So, to a tea, I say: “Just let me throw you in my tea mug and let’s see how you hold up!” ;).

Geoffrey Norman

I loooooooove Ya Bao. Lemoniness and sheng pu-erh. What better combination.

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143 tasting notes

Story Time: Well I have experienced food poisoning for the first time. I ate some of my left over stir fry that I think was a day or two past prime. For that night and to late after noon I was suuuuper nausea’s. Luckily I felt good enough to eat tonight, but man that was not fun. I think I am going to wait to make my stir fry again though for a while.

Tea Time: My Verdant tea order came in today. Even though I was not going to buy any more tea so i can get WHO tickets, as soon as I saw the email from Verdant Tea saying that they had sample sizes, the impulse was just to great to ignore. This one was the sample sent with it. It is funny cause I was planning on trying this one, but was going to have to wait due to money constraints. Maybe David is psychic…

The tea leaves look really interesting. I have never seen white tea look like this before; then again i don’t normally drink white tea. The smell of the leaf is light, but crisp.

I was a little nervous when I noticed that the liquor had no color when it was done brewing; but i had to remember that this is white tea of course. The liquor itself smelled crisp and a little dewy….ohhhh.

The first sip of this warm was good, but not OMG! However, I figured this would be better cooler then warmer so I let it set for a bit. I am glad I did. This tastes soooooo refreshing. Very sparkly on the tongue and taste like dew off of pine needles, and taste like how a summer rain smells. The after taste is great. It leaves this cooling dewy sensation in your mouth.

This is a highly addicting tea. I have been make a half and hour long brews from this tea. I am leaving the rest in a mug to cold brew over night to see what comes of it.

I have been intriged by the concept of pu erd white tea. I must say I think it adds a nice level of earthy fullness to white. I diffidently will be trying Verdant Tea’s other pu erd white tea and the alchemy mix with this tea.

I would recommend this tea to white tea lovers and anyone interested in trying a white pu er.

Water: 8 oz steepings
Pot: Make shift Gaiwan
Sweetener: sometimes a couple of drops, but not really needed.

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 15 sec

I HATE food poisoning… Sorry you got to experience it…


Food poisoning is the worst orz, you don’t want to eat again for days after!


It’s ok. I haven’t been sick in a couple of years so I was expecting something; plus I should have know better. I don’t think mine was too sever though. I ate some chicken and stuff later on tonight. This morning though was not fun. I hate nausea…

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134 tasting notes

This is one of those teas that has me mystified. I have read all the positive reviews, and I am a big fan of Yunnan Yabao tea, and yet this version tastes nothing like I had hoped. I have made three valiant efforts over the past week, doing multiple steepings at different temperatures, and all I get is tea water that tastes of old hay. :(
I’m not putting a numerical rating for now, since my experience was so different from everyone else — I thought I had a pretty good palate, but this leaves me with a big question mark…


white tea has a vibrant shelf life of about 6-8 months…and i would dare say if the tea is not a sheng pu-erh or a dan cong and is over 2 years old, I would expect it to be quite stale and flavorless and to have lost much of its complexity…my guess is your palate is fine…the tea is just…er….old

Jesse Örö

White tea is quite interesting. As far as I know, oxidation of whit tea is not fully stopped, as it is only sun dryed. So, theoretically it will oxidize with time, possibly changing, maybe even developing it’s flavour. But well, it is supposed to be drank fresh, and by your description I would think that aging white is not that good idea.

David Duckler

Yabao is a little different. In China it is actually aged, both loose and in bricks. The younger stuff tastes more similar to a white tea, though with more honey and less of the crisp vegetal notes. As it gets older, you get more and more spice out of it. I have a 15 year old brick of the stuff that has aged fantastically. I think it is treated more like sheng pu’er. As for the hay taste, I can see where you are coming from. I think it has developed a mustiness, but I like the way it pairs with the pine notes. This is the most intense Yabao I tried when picking one out. Most of what you get in America is much lighter. People are somewhat split with this tea. I do know a few people who dislike those notes you are getting and prefer an older brick version I have that is way sweeter and creamier. It is good to hear another perspective on it as I decide which one to bring in next. Thanks!

As for aging straight white tea: Definitely! My friends in China love to pull out their 20 year silver needle and white peony when I visit. Interesting stuff. My only concern is that it sometimes seems less rewarding than aging a more traditional sheng pu’er, since the changes are way more subtle.

I am working on finding some good white teas. I have tried over 50 samples from farmer friends, but I think I am closing in a source. When I do get it in, it will be absolutely fresh. I would be embarrassed to sell any tea that wasn’t supposed to be aged if it were more than a few months old. I buy before the picking and arrange 2 day air shipping to get the teas in the same week they are processed.

E Alexander Gerster

Thanks for your words on Yabao. It is interesting how we develop different likes and dislikes — which are based on a wide range of perceptions in our brain as well as the taste buds in our mouth. Even when I don’t “Like” a tea, I am generally glad to try it, because I learn something new! I tend to pick up on mustiness in teas (and wines, etc) that others don’t. Wish I could selectively turn it off. :)

David Duckler

I know what you mean. I always get at least 3 or 4 other people to come by for a tasting before picking out teas to bring in, because, like you said, so much of taste is based in the brain, and linked to memory. My favorite party game is to have everyone taste a tea and fill out a tasting chart, and then compare the radically different responses. (Super nerdy, but hey…) If you do end up ordering again, I will put a sample of another Yabao in the box that the people who disliked this one tended to like. Mysteries like this are what keep tea fun and interesting.


Wow! I am so sad to hear that this tea didn’t perform for you! I am also quite mystified, too. I wish I lived somewhere near Florida at all so I could come visit you and make this tea for you and find out what the difference was and what happened.

The only time this tea hasn’t been sweet, sparkling and delicious for me was when I brought some to work and experimented with putting it in a tea bag. The paper of the bag seemed to suck up too much of the flavor and replace it with it’s own paper-y aftertaste, and I realized later that I actually hadn’t put enough tea in the bags. This tea is really light, but really large in terms of individual bud size, which might lead some to just not use enough leaf. (First time I bought this tea, I asked for an ounce, and as the store measured it out, they just kept pouring, and pouring, and pouring……).

I even had this the other day iced, and it stood up to the tuna / risotto / roasted asparagus of my dinner meal. I filled a brew basket about 3/4 of the way with buds (maybe more) and put it in a tea pot that brews for two standard-sized coffee mugs. I filled the tea pot all the way with boiling (212 C) water, and then left it to go set the table and carry the food into the dining room. It probably steeped for five or six minutes. I then poured the tea out into two tall glasses that were about 3/4 full of ice (8 cubes). The cubes melted almost instantly, and then I added three more cubes to each to actually make the drink cold.
Even after all of that extra water melting in and the savory taste of the food, the tea was still the delicious thing I’ve loved so much! Extremely sweet in a sparkling way, very full and thick and unexpectedly floral.

Could you describe the three different ways you tried making this tea? I want to try a replicate it at home to see what I get out of the tea. As much detail as possible would be helpful, ie: how many grams of tea (or how much of a brew basket, etc), how big was the pot/gaiwan/etc, how hot was the water, how long did you steep, what kind of water did you use (tap, filtered, bottled, distilled, reverse osmosis)?

I will confidently back up what Verdant says about Yabao and aged white tea, and I’m sure there are many others around steepster who could do the same. I lived in China for about a year, and learned most of my Chinese spending my weekends at a tea market. There was one woman who specialized in selling white tea only, and she had several vintages of bricks of white tea that she was selling; about half of her shelves were full of beautiful bricks! Another good tea friend of mine had a stash of 1992 bai mu dan (white peony) that she pulled out for us to try on several different occasions: it still had that great texture of white tea, but the citrus-y notes of white peony had blossomed into something really full and juicy and intriguing and mouth-watering.
Yabao is really really fun, and it really does get more delicious over time. I would recommend it to anyone hands down as an easy to tea that doesn’t fail to impress.

Oh E.A.Gerster! I am so puzzled and sorry that this didn’t seem to perform for you like it never fails to do for me! If I’m ever headed over your way, or if you ever find yourself in Minnesota, I want to get together and make this tea for you (along with a bunch of others, of course! it’s always so fun to meet new tea friends).
Looking forward to hearing about the details about how your prepared this tea so I can experiment at home.

E Alexander Gerster

Spoonvonstup – Thanks for your post! I wish I was in the Minnesota area so I could share a cup, or two with you. :) I’ll send you a post with my various tries at this one, and maybe you will find out what I was doing wrong… Or that my taste buds need a serious tune-up. :)
Not many friends here in Miami that want to join me for tea. The one or two TeaGeeks that I know are pretty addicted to black teas, and are not too adventurous. More soon…

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294 tasting notes

I hate to say I thought I was’nt going to like this. I brewed it up in the Yixing with what I thought was an appropriate amount of buds. After about a few minutes I lifted the lid and I smelled evergreen. Maybe I should of had a cup then. I let it go longer. It was a yellowy liquor with a mild flavor and fragrance. Very nice in a white tea way. But the surprise is the high. A nice relaxing eye opener. As others have stated, I too am going to let it steep away for a long period after my 2nd steep. It’s very different yet very enjoyable if you have an open mind….


I’ve been wanting to try this for a while..something about its appearance and ability to ‘age’ picks at my interest and I keep thinking its like like a ragged snow leopard’s coat and litter the mountain with discarded fangs

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189 tasting notes

It took a lot of work for me to get something from this tea. I started with a one-minute infusion and tasted very little, so I continued on to three minutes. I found a faint sweetness and a musty, earthy taste redolent of the cedar that Verdant mentions in its tasting notes, but even then I felt I was tasting not so much a delicate tea that needs patience and dedication to tease out its complex essence (an approach that I adopt when tasting lightly oxidized Oolongs), but a cup of lightly vegetal hot water. I guess I do need to have that “wow” or “aha” moment when I drink a tea. Emily Dickinson defined poetry this way: “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” I want that kind of experience when I drink tea.

Interestingly, this tea gave me a different kind of buzz than other tea. Maybe it’s all that energy packed in those buds.

David Duckler

Hi Triumph,
It looks like one or two other people have had that very light experience you describe with the Yabao. I find that a lot of the flavor in this one is in the aftertaste, and that it does not have the same gripping mouthfeel as a conventional sheng pu’er, but that the spice and textures at play make it more than worth while. Try using more tea leaves next time. Using 3-4g of this looks like a lot more tan 3-4g of Tieguanyin. Sometimes I fill my gaiwan 1/2 full with leaves, and do pretty long steepings, which gives the riches textural interest in the tea.

I am sorry that you had a less-than-perfect experience with this one. I share your values of needing that moment that you describe of being gripped and fully consumed by the tea. A tea that I think is just really pleasant is not worth importing for me, as it is an incredible series of hoops to jump through to get these small farm teas through customs and over here. I hope that you find the “aha” in the Yabao. If not, I will send you a sample of the new yabao I am looking at bringing in with your next order. It is less cedar and more honey spice.

Doug F

I’ll try adding more leaves next time. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I found it interesting and I could sense some of the flavors that you mentioned coming through. I do generally love the teas you find and I’m grateful to you for doing what very few people must be devoting themselves to; namely, going to great lengths to connect us with local farmers and providing us with memorable tea experiences. I look forward to making my way through your catalogue!

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59 tasting notes

This will always be one of my favorite kinds of tea.

We used a brick of yabao at our wedding, just because it was one of our most treasured flavours we wanted to share with everyone.

I was so pleased and excited to find more yabao. Even though this one is loose and considerably younger, it still has all of the great things I was looking for: sweet and spicy (almost sparkling), with nutmeg and cinnamon, marshmallows, and a feeling or a flavor that reminds me of fresh white linen in sunshine.

I’m interested to see how this one will grow over time (since it’s loose, it will probably age faster), especially since this one is a little more woodsy and less mushroom-y than others I’ve tried.

If you don’t think you like pu’ers, definitely give this a try! It is a perfect “gateway drug” and it’s practically idiot proof. I accidentally left some leaves steeping in a cup for a few hours one afternoon at work, and it still tasted amazing- not a trace of astringency. I have no idea how you could make this tea bitter or unappealing.

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19 tasting notes

I just purchased this tea and I am waiting for it to come in the mail. What drew me in was it was on “clearance” and is “age-able”, I plan to give it to someone with more self discipline than myself for Christmas. My question for now is, How does one age this particular tea? Should it be air-tight or open to air? And where would be a good place to store it?

David Duckler

Hi- Thanks for picking up some yabao for the holidays. This Yabao actually reminds me of holiday time, mulling spice, baking, pine trees, etc. In terms of aging, leaving them slightly open to air in a non-damp environment away from smells is best. However, they can stay in the bags they came in, especially if they are opened up once every few month to get some new air in. Yabao changes slowly, but it does become deeper over time. Some silver needle white teas and white peony are aged in China as well. I am looking to get in a good candidate for aging.

I hope that whoever you give this to has fun with it. Yabao is a pretty unique tea.
Best Wishes,


Thanks for the quick reply! I will probably print all this out and put it with the gift. I have wondered for some time if aging wine was something I would want to try, but aging tea actually seems less risky, more rewarding, and much cheaper. $15 for 3 ounces of tea is really cheap when compared to wine.

Going by the reviews on steepster some people don’t quite enjoy the tea, as with any tea. So I’ll have to brew some at the Christmas party to see who would actually enjoy aging this tea.

I assume room temperature is best for tea, but from what I’ve read control over moisture, smells, and air flow is more important than temperature. Some pu’erh is good stored with lots of moisture and air flow, and some needs to be air tight and with no moisture. Yabao is a unique tea with very little info on the internet so I had to be sure, dry + air flow doesn’t sound too hard.



Perfect! Not only did I buy on the last day it was 50% off. I think I got the last of the 2009! The webpage says it’s 2010 now.


Great information on how to age it. I was wondering on how to do it.

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144 tasting notes

This one immediately piqued my interest as a strange and unusual (and authentic) offering. Nathan at Verdant Tea was kind enough to supply me with a handful of bite-sized samples of some of their sheng (which are all very, very good by the way) and this fortunately found its way in there.

It is different that any other traditional tea I’ve had as it carries very airy, herbal qualities. The taste is an exquisite blend of chamomile, lavender, lemongrass, and definitely sage. At no time does this taste bitter or medicinal. Instead there is a caring warmth throughout. Only at the tail end of the flavor profile does the taste of Yunnan sweetness come through reminding me that I am, in fact, drinking tea..

All in all I have to say that I am impressed. It is most certainly in a genre of it’s own with the only similarity in taste to puer being the lingering sweetness at the end. It’s really interesting, if anything, and I can recommend it to anyone who like hot beverages of any sort.


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138 tasting notes

The dry “bud” has a nice woodsy smell. I was eager to get home to brew it. The wet bud was a little musty but had a sweet cedar aroma. I did not know how long to brew it so I did it for 3 mins. It seemed to be enough to get the flavor from the buds. I don’t know what to say about the tea…I might have to come back to it.

After drinking this again I can see how this tea can grow on you. I have steeped it 6 times. 2mins,5mins,10mins,15mins,20mins, 1 hour. The buds really do take off on the flavor. I will have to try the new silver buds.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Regarding steep time on this one: if you’re making it in a pot, you could definitely steep to 5 min or more. I bring this to work a lot and just let is sit in my cup (refilling water throughout the day)- it does not get bitter at all, only stronger and sweeter.


Good to know. I went ahead a brewed it for 5 mins. I’m getting more from it now. Thanks.

Nathaniel Gruber

Yeah, it’s amazing how indestructible this tea is. I’ve never reached the end of it even after steeping it for hours and hours.

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