Ah the mythical Golden Fleece. It’s been built up to such levels of epicness by fellow Steepsters that I’ve been hesitant to even open my sample. I had convinced myself that I needed to refine my pallet more so that the beauty of this tea wouldn’t be lost. I mean, it’s such a rare tea and people love it so much… I honestly almost felt guilty having it, like I knew I wouldn’t appreciate it fully and someone else who could was missing out.
Three days ago I decided that was the stupidest thing ever. Tea is about the journey, not building any single leaf up to be some mythical destination. Golden Fleece is not the endgame, it’s a step on my teaventure! So I ripped open the packet with glee (okay, I carefully cut it up, but that is not as dramatic sounding) and inhaled the delicious aroma. Malt! Chocolate! Like fancy chocolate cake. Flourless chocolate cake, the “so dark and decadent it should be illegal” kind. And that just from the smell~!
So far I’ve brewed up 4 steeps in my gaiwan. I tasted them all individually and in the end mixed them together into a mug. There was not a huge amount of variation in steeps 1-4 so I feel like it’s okay to do! 1-2 had some faint vanilla notes that weren’t present in 3-4, and 3-4 were a bit deeper in color and flavor (though I chalk that up to the longer steep time).
I love Yunnan blacks, and this is a delicious one! Malt and caramelized sugar are the predominant notes, the sugar flavor bordering on almost bitter but the brew is smooth enough to make up for that. Oddly enough there is no cocoa or chocolate in the steep even though it smelled so heavily of it! My cup is leaning more towards yeasty bread, rye bread, maybe even pumpernickel! Very dark and deep.
There are also some citrusy orange notes similar to what I got from Teavivre’s Yunnan Dian Hong. Blood orange!
I’ll be honest: I like this tea, but so far it’s not showing me any “wow” qualities that I haven’t seen in other high-quality Yunnans. Of course I have many steeps left in these leaves and half the sample to go, so the journey’s not over yet! I will hold off on a rating until I feel like I have really “gotten to know” this tea: I brewed it at near-boiling as per the instructions on the back but some of the notes (caramel, orange) verged into bitter territory and I think this tea would benefit from a lower temperature. Also going to try out cold brewing, because why not? Gonna get as much use out of these pretty leaves as I can!