Ya Bao (芽苞) is an interesting tea from the Yunnan province, there is ongoing debate whether it is a white Puerh or a White tea, and can we even consider it to be tea? Some believe the Ya Bao buds to be a parasitic plant that lives on tea trees.
So what is Ya Bao and why do you definitely need to try it if you haven’t already?
In Yunnan tea plants vegetate as early as February or March because of the warm climate, during this time the temperature can sometimes drop below 0°C. Ya Bao consists of buds from wild trees which were affected by low temperature levels below 0°C.
After the buds have been collected they are dried in the sun, once dried they are ready to be brewed. So in terms of the production process, Ya Bao really is very similar to White tea. Nevertheless, the buds are harvested from Puerh trees which belong to the camellia assamica variety. Technically Ya Bao is neither a white Puerh nor a Whtie tea.
Its flavour profile has a sweetness similar to that of a White tea and a potential to age like a Puerh. The end result is an unusual tea. The flavour profile also includes notes of vanilla, dried fruit, honey and forest pine. It has a slight astringency with a long lasting sweet aftertaste. Some compare Ya Bao to champagne: the liquors are the same colour, the effect and sensations from both drinks are also very similar.
The Puerh buds in Ya Bao are not very sensitive to high temperature levels, you can even use fully boiled water to brew it. The recommended brewing temperature is 80-90°C.