Ya Bao is a Camellia varietal wild white tea. Wild is right! These white buds are totally different from any other white tea I’ve come across to date. They have the same light color and shiny hairs, but the flavor is not subtle at all.
Best drank while hot and without sweeteners. Embrace the woodsy flavor!
Norbu Tea describes this tea as:
Ya Bao literally means “Bud Treasure,” and it comes from a wild Camellia varietal specific to the Yunnan/Myanmar border region. Sometimes referred to as “Ye Sheng” or “wild Pu-Erh tea” by indigenous populations, this is not a Camellia varietal traditionally used in the manufacture of Pu-Erh tea; however, Xiaguan tea factory near Dali (in Western Yunnan where this varietal is from) regularly produces compressed teas incorporating both leaf and bud materials from this Camellia varietal.
This particular batch of Ya Bao is from Dehong in the far western portion of Yunnan province. In the late part of August, small new growth buds (and some small leaves) from these trees are harvested and simply dried in the sun to produce this Ya Bao. The leaves and buds which grow on these trees later in the harvest season (like these) are used to produce various wild (“Ye Sheng”) Pu Erh teas in the factories of the region.
In contrast to our Spring harvest Ya Bao, the dry leaves have a more reddish brown color, indicating that they have oxidized a bit during harvest, sun-drying and subsequent shipping and storage. The steeped liquor of this Late Summer Ya Bao is a light amber color with excellent clarity. In my opinion, the flavor and aroma have a hint of “evergreen-ness” to them, but this evergreen-ness is tempered by the aroma of camphor trees that can be found in some traditional Pu-Erh teas. The taste is sort of a cross between white tea, and a young Sheng Pu-Erh with camphor tastes but without the overpowering bitterness associated with young sheng Pu-Erh. It is difficult to describe because it is so unique, but it is definitely worth a try.
Brisk! Pungent! Unique — and hard to describe. Moss comes to mind… but in a good, earthy, and naturally fresh sort of way. Sheng Pu-erh flavors? Yes. Evergreen? A little bit, yes. Definitely not overwhelming but pleasantly strong.