Tea of Vietnam is a tea company that specializes in tea from Northern Vietnam from ancient trees. Their tea is produced by the Red Dzao people using traditional methods. What I found interesting were their tea trees. They are called Shan Tuyet (high-mountain snow tea) and some trees are claimed to be over 300 years old. They have some really impressive photos on their website, showing off the highly respected and preserved trees. They sent me an assortment of their teas, but the one I am showing off today is the Red Dragon Ya Bao. I have never seen or heard of this kind of tea before, so I took a bit of a deep dive into my experience and a little background on this tea. Here are my thoughts:
This tea was a treat, and I have one serving left that I might hoard forever. Outwardly, I was not sure how I was going to like this tea, as the dry leaf aroma just had a natural, earthy aroma. But as soon as I added water, a total transformation occurred. Once I did the first steeping, I noticed some extremely sweet and slight floral notes with a tiny bit of earthiness. It reminded me a bit of juice or maybe a syrup? I absolutely love it, and it incredibly unique, as I am not sure if I can accurately describe it. There is just this absolutely unique sweetness and some simple elegance to it. The color of the tea is a very pale yellow color, not really varying in the gaiwan steeps.
I was not prepared for the taste to be similar to the aroma. It was naturally so sweet. I would take a sip my nose would be met with the lovely aroma and the brew itself seemed very aromatic and lovely to each of my senses. As I first tasted it, goosebumps erupted over my body. It reminds me more of fragrance, like a naturally sweet fragrance on my tongue that spreads. I brewed this in my gaiwan, and the sweet fragrant aroma just danced around the lid. Each sip made my mouth water even more and it just was so easy to sip on. There was no astringency to it, very smooth. I did long steeps, about 45-60 seconds each. I did about 10 steeps in and the tea is still so lovely, eventually waning to just a subtle sweetness. I had to take a break to heat up more water, and I noticed a charming lingering taste in my mouth. There is just a crispness to this tea, with syrupy notes. As steeps went on, I noted a slightly woody taste in the very background, but not super apparent at first.
A Little Background
So, at first I did not realize that this came from a tea tree. I had no idea mostly because it did not look anything like tea leaves. So, a little research is needed!
There is a great debate that Ya Bao is even tea. There are three versions of Ya Bao, depending on variation: camellia sinensis var. assamica, c. crassicolumna, and c. taliensis. I believe this tea is from the camellia sinensis var. assamica, from looking at an article from Verdant Tea (Check out this article for some awesome information) and examining the buds and their tasting notes. Each tea plant variation gives a different looking and tasting type of Ya Bao, making it incredibly unique and different due to the variations of caffeine, theobromine, and antioxidant levels. While some variations do not have caffeine (camellia sinensis var.), c. assamica and c. taliensis does have reduced amounts of caffeine.
Price: This tea is priced at $14 for 50 grams, $28 for 100 grams, and $49 for 150 grams.
Packaging: This tea came is beautiful tea packaging, and it really did keep the integrity of the tea intact.
Sourcing: Wild tea trees of Ha Giang, Vietnam, said to be from century-old trees in the Shan Tuyet tea forest. Their tea is produced by the Red Dzao people using traditional methods.
This was just….a treat. Amazing honestly. I am going to try and hunt down the other variations so I can compare and taste this new tea. Have you tried it? If so, which variation? Let me know! Happy Brewing!