Saturday, January 4, 2014

Verdant Tea: Silver Buds Yabao, A Tea Review

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.


  1. I looooooooooo*gasp*oooooooove this stuff. Funny thing, it's actually a different species of Camellia than the tea plant. So, it's technically a caffeinated herb like yerba mate or guayusa. It isn't, however, aged like pu-erh. When they say "aging", they mean "kept-in-storage-for-a-long-time" aged oolong.

    That said, Yabao has been used to produce a wild pu-erh that is to die for.

    1. I did not know that if came from a different species, that is so awesome! Thank you for letting me know :) I am going to have to hunt down this wild Pu Er you speak of!