82
drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
2410 tasting notes

For whatever reason, I felt like doing a comparison of the black teas I have from Verdant tonight, so of course wanted to start with the highly regarded Golden Fleece! I used about 2.5 tsp of leaf in 8 oz. of water.

The first thing I noticed about this tea was the downy golden orange fuzz from the buds, which left itself everywhere – most noticeably on the teaspoon, and collecting at the top of the cup. Interesting! Unlike downy white teas, the fuzz here obviously was no longer solidly attached to the buds. I got a bit of a weird aroma while brewing; reminding me a bit of fermenting compost or something. A touch offputting, but I’ve smelled far more dodgy teas, and aroma doesn’t necessarily dictate flavour.

The first infusion, for 30s, is super sweet! So sweet and honey-like. The mouthfeel is SO smooth and creamy and velvety. No astringency, no bitterness. There’s a creamy aftertaste as well. Quite tasty; I’m wishing I had done a 1.5 minute infusion to better compare to the other teas though.

Second infusion (boiling/2.5 min): Oops, got distracted for this one, so there’s some astringency now. Same thick, creamy, velvety mouthfeel though. This infusion has a similar but darker flavour profile, and although it’s astringent, it’s still pretty enjoyable. I have to admit though, that the flavours in it do remind me a bit of fermentation, moreso than I get from other blacks. (Hmm, the astringency has dropped off a bit as the cup cooled. Tastier now.)

I might try another infusion (hopefully I didn’t ruin the leaves with that overly long second one), and am glad that I have an ounce to play with so I can try a few different things. This tea by far had the sweetest initial flavour that I’ve seen in black teas, which was absolutely delicious and intriguing. As I’ve said before, black teas are not my thing, so this would probably garner a bit of a lower rating than I’m giving it because it’s not a tea I’d keep around or drink often, as I’d prefer something lighter, but I feel like black tea lovers would adore this one! Glad to have tried :)

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec

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I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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