Sunday, January 26, 2014
Verdant Tea, Silver Buds Yabao
Yabao is one of the most intriguing teas out there. Picked from compact winter buds, young Yabao is light in body but wonderfully nuanced. It has none of the earthy qualities of pu’er. Instead, it is sweet like raw sugar, with the silky spice of Yunnan budset teas like Golden Buds black. This 2008 harvest still maintains a fresh sparkling quality to it, with toasted marshmallow flavors coming through in later steepings. Growing so close to the wild forests of Yunnan, the tea has hints of pine or cedar in its aroma that complement the spice perfectly.
Are we now harvesting tea on some exotic alien world? Actually, no. This unusual offering is from Yunnan China. I don't even know how to describe its appearance much less how it is produced. It looks kind of plantlike and kind of like it came from the depths of the ocean. Apparently this is sort of a white tea that ages well. It is made of bud sets that have not yet opened, picked in mid to late winter.
This was steeped western style in my press with boiling water for 4 minutes. The result is a very lightly tinted clear liquor. The buds, pods, whatever they are, have a scent like mushrooms stored in a pine or cedar box. The wet leaf looks like giant opening grains of wheat.
The taste is a very unusual. My best effort to explain it is marshmallows sprinkled with limestone dust. Forgive me but I worked in the limestone industry for 31 years. The scent and the taste are unavoidably familiar and kind of stay with you.
There is some herb scent as well, maybe basil? Very, very light notes of cinnamon and apple. It is kind of pine tasting but only mildly so. To my sweet tooth this is only mildly sweet. To me this is far closer to sheng puerh in taste than to black or white tea, though it does not have the strong mineral bite of a young raw puerh.
With later cups I am still trying to pinpoint the taste and I am still at a loss. It seems to taste kind of like smelling a freshly pulled tree root with fresh damp earth attached. It is not puerh like at all but again that is the closest association.
Just when I think I have experienced the boundaries of tea, one comes along and moves them. This is very different. As weird as my review may make this sound let me add I rather enjoyed this tea.
Visit the Verdant Tea website.