Silver Buds Yabao

Tea type
Pu-erh White Blend
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Apricot, Cardamon, Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Marshmallow, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Peach, Pine, Plums, Straw, Drying, Fruity, Grain, Hay, Hot hay, Nectar, Sweet, Wood, Butterscotch, Caramel, Cream, Frosting, Vanilla, White Chocolate, Bamboo, Fennel, Melon, Cucumber, Honey, Honeydew, Ginger, Smooth, Spicy, Licorice, Spices, Autumn Leaf Pile, Mushrooms, Brown Sugar
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Edit tea info Last updated by David Duckler
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 45 sec 8 g 5 oz / 138 ml

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108 Tasting Notes View all

  • “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...” 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...” 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

From Verdant Tea

Year: 2010

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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108 Tasting Notes

32 tasting notes

Hmm… Not sure I did this one justice. I’ve been having a bit of issue figuring out new teas in my collection, lately. Just yesterday I ruined my entire Xingyang 2007 shu sample because I brewed it incorrectly. I may have gone to the other extreme and underdone it with this yabao. Fortunately, that means I still have enough leaf to try again later!

I used about 3 teaspoons of the yabao in my decidedly huge swan yixing, about 10 oz. I used boiling water to rinse the leaves and the pot, then used boiling water for a few seconds to make each steeping. I made it to around four steepings with some help drinking the tea – otherwise in pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to drink so much tea!

The smell of the wet leaves is sweet and delicate. I can definitely pick up on the pine needles the description mentions. I’m not sure I’m reminded of snickerdoodles, but there’s definitely a lightly spiced smell. The brewed tea is alarmingly clear and colourless – they really weren’t kidding!

As for the taste… I definitely did something wrong, as I can barely taste anything. What I can pick up, is lovely, though. It’s sweet, and it lingers. It reminds me of the bite of pine needles without the followthrough of pine needle taste, if that makes sense. There’s a toastiness, but whether I’d call it marshmallow, I am just not sure. It’s very nice, really, but I need to brew it properly to get a good idea of what I’m tasting.

Gonna hold back on rating it for now. I have a feeling this is something I could rate much higher than I would right now.

Oh! As an amusing postscript, my boyfriend walked in as I was cleaning out the pot, and thought there were insects in my tea. “You eat crazy things, wouldn’t put it past you to drink them too!” Ha.

Nathaniel Gruber

fascinating stuff. this one is hard to add too much leaf to. it’s pretty durable. if you were adding 10 grams to your gaiwan, then you must have a HUGE gaiwan! in my 5 oz. gaiwan i generally use 4 grams or so. so to use 10 grams and not get much taste from it probably means either that the gaiwan is enormous, or perhaps something with the water? reverse osmosis water will take flavor away from tea, and with a lighter tea such as this one you run the risk of losing out on some of the subtlety for sure. fascinating though. i’m intrigued to solve this little riddle for you.


10oz is a very large vessel for this. I brew it in a small 3oz gaiwan, and fill that to about half it’s capacity with buds (a couple tablespoons). It will deliver a vivid flavor with the right leaf to water ratio. I then do many short steepings, starting with 5-10 seconds, and adding additional time as I proceed with further infusions. With that leaf to water ratio, it can pretty much be re-steeped indefinitely in my experience, and I just keep steeping until I’m ready to move on to something else. Boiling water is fine for this stuff, but as Nate suggests you should avoid certain kinds of water like reverse-osmosis or distilled, or water that has been previously re-bioled a few times. I find filtered or spring water, freshly boiled, to be the best for tea brewing. Hopefully these comments are helpful. Happy drinking!


Nathaniel – my swan yixing is indeed enormous. If you can believe it, I own an even bigger one! (20 oz) I’m really learning to appreciate the smaller gaiwans and yixings, especially with anything Verdant has to offer. I use tap water with a Brita filter, though it’s possible I overboiled the water.

Geoffrey – I agree with you. I love my swan yixing but it’s just TOO big for just about anything I’m drinking these days.

Also, question for both of you – are you using actual measuring spoons or normal spoons? What’s the spoon to gram of tea measure?


Spoon to gram measure is going to be different for each kind of tea, because the weight to volume of each tea can vary dramatically. A gram-sensitive food scale is better for measuring by weight, but when you’ve done enough weighing for each kind of tea you can start to eyeball these measurements. At home, I typically use measuring spoons when I’m measuring out, and with that I just use rules of thumb developed from experience. Otherwise, I’ll just eyeball it when I’m pouring or pinching out tea quantities from a bag. I might measure weight if I had a food scale at home, but I don’t have one. Do you use a scale at home, Nate?

Brita filtered water is fine. That’s the same as what I use at home. Just watch out for re-boiling the same water too much.

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570 tasting notes

I have yet to be disappointed in a Verdant Tea offering.

In a Gift-of-the-Magi-esque situation, my wife and I both got the other a six-month subscription to Verdant Tea’s Tea of the Month club. Because David is awesome, he’s making them consecutive instead of concurrent, so we can look forward to a whole year of amazing tea.

Anyway. This yabao is incredible, I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. It’s a white tea, but there is a depth of flavour to it that’s quite incredible, especially since it brews up practically clear. From the colour, I was expecting a faint delicate flavour, but I was pleasantly surprised by the party that happened in my mouth. Very heavy and spicy, as promised. Definitely a tea to be savoured.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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329 tasting notes

This is intensely grassy and woodsy, but surprisingly light at the same time. No snickerdoodles here – I wish! – but I am picking up on the pine notes. This reminds me of some Darjeelings – the driest, grassiest, most herbal kinds. Those are not my favorites, and this isn’t either. Still, it’s my first yabao, and I’m glad to have been able to try it. It’s unusual, for sure. Thanks (very belatedly) for this sample, moraiwe!

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57 tasting notes

Not assigning a numerical rating on this one. I’m tasting it from a surprise sample that was included in my recent verdant order (I feel I need to try the tea several times before making final judgement on it).

Anyways, first things first, I like it very much! Very light and subtle but with a clear sweet woodsy taste. I decided to write on note on this one because I currently have a much newer yabao (produced in 2012), and when this sample was included in my order, I was excited to see what the differences would be between an aged yabao (2008 according to verdant’s site) and a new one.

All I can say is that the aging makes it sweeter and definitely more complex. My newer yabao is very flat and with a strong pine needle aroma/taste, so I’m glad that aging it will make it better on the long run :)

I’d definitely recommend this one if you enjoy white tea.

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122 tasting notes

My first-ever Pu-erh! Thanks for widening my horizons with this sample, Verdant. It’s my first official day of summer break and I’m celebrating with tea! Also, I lined up a position for the fall. Feeling golden!

These little tea buds are so cute. Fuzzy and smaller than I expected – they look like little sheaths of wheat. After the rinse they smell strongly of… something I can’t put my finger on. Sorry, that’s not helpful.

The tea tastes interesting and has an unusual mouth-feel. It’s a good tea but I’m not loving it. Maybe with a little resteeping it will grow on me, but so far not so much.

Edited to say: Chaqi like woah! Maybe I do like this tea…


This isn’t at all like any other puerh I’ve tasted and I’ve had at least a hundred or more puerhs (lost count). Some people think the flavor is like an exotic spice…mace possibly. I prefer to under leaf steep it in a gaiwan and let it cool a little. There’s a rock sugar or stone quality I like too. It’s an interesting tea.

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111 tasting notes

Got this as a sample on my last order.

So this note is for Western brewing. I think I’ll do up the rest of the sample as gongfu, because I think that might be a better representation of this tea.

Anyway, as it was, Western brew style isn’t anything to write home about. The idea of buds rather than leaves is intriguing, but the result wasn’t really anything exciting. I can’t decide if what it’s making me think of is corn or cauliflower. I have nothing against corn/cauliflower, in fact I really love it, but I’d rather eat it than drink it.

Second infusion is the same. A cup of corn/cauliflower. This tea is very similar to white tea — which I really like by the way — but a very lifeless version of it.

As I said, I’ll try the rest of the sample gongfu style. Unless it’s quite a bit better that way, this won’t be anything I buy again. Too boring.

Edit It’s not corn nor cauliflower it’s making me think of, it’s rice. Sweetish rice. Well at least that mystery’s solved. lol

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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511 tasting notes

What a unique flavor (⊙0⊙)
I’m not sure exactly what to make of it. It smells like weeds and weedy-flowers (like lemon verbena maybe). The taste is like weeds and garden mulch, very earthy! It’s smooth with no detectable astringency. The first few sips did not do me well and I made some funny faces at it, but the flavor started to grow on me after that. I think this is a tea that I can learn to appreciate given some time, but for now I am undecided.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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142 tasting notes

Remember the first time you had milk oolong and said ‘this is just TEA?’ before buying a pound of it? (No? That was just me?) Silver Buds Yabao is kind of like that. A revelation. Yes, it’s a pu’er, and that comes through quite clearly, but … actually, maybe that’s the difference. None of the muddiness. Depth and lightness and complexity all in one cup. Verdant even suggests icing it, and yes, thank you, I think I will do that too. Despite its lightness, there is nothing delicate about this tea.

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58 tasting notes

When I opened this packet I was greeted with a familiar sight. My parents have a camellia sinensis plant that is often covered in these little buds. I’ve never drunk them though and was really excited to try it.

I prepared this using the gongfu method on the verdant website which produced a very pale brew with a faint pine and honey aroma. Thankfully the flavour was stronger than the aroma, with the first infusion producing a delicate sweetness with lovely woody notes and some kind of tropical fruit that I can’t quite pin down. I started enjoying this a lot more as it cooled and could see it making a wonderful delicate unsweetened iced tea.

For me the whole experience is let down a bit by the aftertaste which is reminiscent of chewing up paper to make spit balls back at primary school (don’t pretend like you didn’t do it too!). It is also such a subtle flavour that I think if it was drunk with food the enjoyment would be completely lost.

This isn’t a miss for me but it isn’t a hit either. Some sips I think “yes! yum!” but others are just “meh”. It is so unique that I’m really pleased that I got the chance to try it. Thanks Sil :D


Glad you enjoyed it more than I did. :)

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541 tasting notes

flails My package did end up showing up today! I asked for no jasmine for my sample and ended up getting Yu Lu Yan Cha black; which I’m really excited about because I wanted to try it, but couldn’t fit it into this small sample order. I also got a very nice, personal thank you note. :)
I have wanted to try this type of tea ever since I first started to study pu’erh online. It was really interesting to me and it is just cute. At first I had a difficult time placing just what the smell reminded me of and then it hit me! Peppery sawdust. (not in a bad way either)
I am steeping this in my very small (6oz) little teapot. I am using just about half of the given sample and brewing in short steeps.
1st steep (5 sec+2 quick rinses): Now, I’ve called rooibos woodsy before. No, that was not really accurate after smelling and tasting this. It reminds me instantly of cedar. The liquor is almost completely clear. After this I’ll be using a different drinking vessel! I forgot that these don’t expand as much as other teas and so the level of liquid in my wide-mouth drinking bowl is near to spilling over. This cuppa is distinctly cedar and not too much else but what I could describe as warmth. At first I thought of pepper, but that isn’t quite it. More cayenne pepper, actually! Very intriguing.
2nd and 3rd steeps (5sec & 6sec): I combined these two to equal one mug. The liquor looks a bit more yellow this time than the 1st steep. I actually just ate a kashi apple cobbler bar and it tastes really great with this tea! I don’t know how to cook with tea, but some kind of warmed apple something would be fabulous with this; maybe fall themed? Still tasting mainly cayenne and cedar.
final notes I actually steeped this 4 more times. The cayenne kind of tapered out near the end and was replaced by linen flavors. It was a very up-front tea and left an interesting tingle on the back of my tongue. I am so glad I had a chance to try this, as it is one of the most unique things that I’ve tried, but ultimately, I don’t think it is for me.

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