I have been wanting to try yao bao for a while. Dear @dragonleaves wrote a great review in the 365 teas challenge. Read it here to understand what is a yao bao. I had a discussion with him as to which category we should place this tea. He suggested ‘white tea’, although they are not the leaves of the camellia Sinensis so in this sense it is not a ‘tea’. But he argued that they carry leaf material as these buds would turn into leaves eventually. Fair enough.
I saw this tea in a tea expo, and I was intrigued. It was sitting with some good looking pu-erh teas. I asked what type of tea it was. The fact that it could be yao bao did not occur to me because the photos of yao baos I saw before were quite different. If you compare the images in this review with that of Dragon Leaves’ one, you will see what I mean. The reason could be that these buds were collected from wild and ancient tea trees of Mengku Mountain in Lincang, Yunnan. According to the seller/producer, the ancient trees are about a thousand years old. This sounds like an exaggeration, I have no ways of confirming it. But I was sent these beautiful photos by the producer, and the forest does look amazing.
Anyway, obviously, not speaking Chinese did not help. I was trying this tea, and for a long time, I thought I was drinking a form of white tea. This is also what the seller suggested. I found the taste and smell very, very pleasant, and unexpected. But something was missing. It felt like a tisane to me, and just for this reason, I would not classify this tea a white tea.
As for the flavours of this tea, I can tell that there was a citrus element. I also tasted other fruits like mango. It was a very mellow and sweet taste almost felt like I was having a herbal tea. Actually, sort of it is herbal tea. Anyway, the taste is very satisfactory. According to the seller, it is the original taste as the processing was minimal whereby the leaves were laid to dry slowly.
I wonder how similar this taste was to Dragon Leaves’ yao bao. I should try that type and then compare.
It is incredible that I am at day 284 of my challenge and still discovering new tastes and aromas.
Origin: Lincang, Yunnan, China
Harvest time: Spring 2020
Leaf colour: Green and purple buds
Liquor colour: Tones of yellow (depending on the steeping time)
Tea aroma: Fruity
Tea taste: Mellow with citrus sweetness
Steeping/brewing: Place about 4 g of this tea in a teapot and add about 100 ml water at around 90°C. Rinse after 5 sec. Steep for 10 seconds for the second time and increase the consecutive steeping time by 5 seconds each time. You can steep this tea multiple times.
Shelf life: Can be aged