242 Tasting Notes

100
drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
242 tasting notes

Alright, time for my first legit tasting note for this tea. The website says that this is my 152 tasting note, but I don’t really count my most recent two as notes, since they aren’t detailed, and don’t have a rating. Yesterday was a nice preview, but I getting interrupted by things, so the session was cut short. I don’t have a gaiwan, so I had to make do with what I had available: Two mugs, a strainer, and a steady hand. I didn’t want to use my tea ball, for fear of restricting the leaves when they try to open.

The first infusion was not as intense as most black teas, but it makes up for that with the amazing taste. I did not rinse the leaves before the first steep, but it still tastes well above average. Steep time was more than five, but less than ten seconds, using approximately four ounces of 205 degree water paired with about four grams of tea. The taste is silky, sliding over the tongue in a very unique way. The taste is slightly malty, but not very strong. There is no doubt that this is a Dian Hong, but it is clearly more refined than every other that I’ve tasted. There is also a hint of the sugar flavor I talked about in my note yesterday, but it’s not well developed yet. The tea finishes with an aftertaste that lingers for a good minute on the hard palate of the mouth. Not quite sure what it is, but it is pleasant. I can’t wait to see how the tea develops.

Second infusion, 8 seconds, 4 ounces, 205 degrees. More refined than last time., still silky, and the raw sugar has developed nicely. The aftertaste still lingers on the hard palate, but it has started to stick to my tongue as well. There is also a bit of cinnamon starting to peak through the flavor palette, making the tea delightfully complex. I’m starting to think that this is the platonic ideal of a Dian Hong. Again, I can’t wait to taste the developments of the next infusion.

Third infusion, the only change to the method was I got a bit distracted, and made five ounces of tea, and steeped for 12 seconds. The end result is a cinnamon-flavored tea, sweetened with raw sugar. The mouth-feel is a bit less prominent now, but is still silky, and the tea’s taste is very clear, creating a very enjoyable experience. The aftertaste is weaker, lingering for only about thirty seconds on the hard palate before it fades. The end result is a very nice development of flavors, which combine in such an amazing way to create a great cup of tea.

Fourth infusion, 4 ounces, 12 seconds. Unfortunately, I had a bit o lemonade while the tea was cooling, and that messed up my sense of taste a bit, but here’s what I got from this tea: The cinnamon has really started to get strong, and clove seems to be appearing, but it was hard to tell. The tea feels silky, and is still very clear. I don’t know about the brightness that David mentions on the website, but it was very remarkable nonetheless. The aftertaste has weakened, lingering for only 20 seconds now, but the end result is still exceptional.

The fifth infusion, 15 seconds, four ounces. The tea has become delightfully spicy. The clove flavor has really started to show itself, and the cinnamon is still going strong. There is also some other spice flavor present, but I can’t tell what it is exactly. It might be morel, but I’ve never had morel before, so I can’t really say that with any degree of certainty. Because of this, the tea isn’t really sweet any more, but that just makes it interesting, reaffirming my earlier claim that this is an ideal Dian Hong. Another interesting development is that the aftertaste has gotten a bit stronger again, lingering for 45 seconds on the hard palate. It has also changed in that the aftertaste is tingly, like spice or perhaps something rubbing on the surface of my mouth. Different, yet pleasant.

The sixth, same parameters as usual, 25 seconds. The taste has changed subtly. It is still smooth, but I would no longer consider it silky. It is a bit more like the mineral smoothness of a Wuyi Oolong, but not quite the same. Also, the cinnamon and clove flavors are rather strong, and they are very harmonious at the moment. The mystery taste also meshes well with them, but not to the same extent (at least, not yet).

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
Bonnie

Ah time to enjoy! I’m so glad that you are persistant! The tea was waiting for you.

Joshua Smith

I agree! The worst part is I have my tea stuff set up in my room right next to my bed. It was hard to have to go to sleep, knowing that it was sitting right there in front of me. But the wait was definitely worth it. Like I said in the recent edit, this tea seems to be the Platonic ideal for a Dian Hong, possibly even a Yunnan blacks.

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100
drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
242 tasting notes

Ugh, real life decided to be annoying today, so I don’t have enough time to do this tea justice. I promise that I’ll do something substantive tomorrow. I really like it, it’s an amazing tea, with the most amazing palate that I’ve ever had. I have to agree that the mouth-feel is silky, and it’s amazingly sweet. I went and got a sugar in the Raw packet from a friend’s house to comp[are, and it does indeed remind me of raw sugar.

Unfortunately, I’m only at the second steep, and this is probably all that I have time for today T_T. I was really looking forward to the interesting spicy flavors that the profile describes, but I just don;t have time. Luckily, I’ve already got time planned out, and I’m going to do this right. A tea this good deserves nothing less.

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89

This isn’t too detailed, since I took this with me to work, and drank it over the course of about 9 hours. I was really impressed with the flavor, starting out pretty sweet yet intense, like good dark chocolate, but then it started to develop a lovely spiciness. I would agree that cayenne is one of the flavors, and the mouthfeel later on definitely reminded me of clove. Anyway, expect a substantive review sometime this weekend, but not tomorrow. My company lets out early due to the holiday weekend, and I intend to spend most of it trying out my Golden Fleece. Based on Bonnie and Jim Marks’ reviews, it really is something special. I almost can’t wait.

Bonnie

Perfect timing for new tea wouldn’t you agree! Have a great weekend!

Scott B

Thanks for the review, have been wanting to hear about this tea.

Bonnie

Scott there are three reviews of this tea right now.

Scott B

Thanks, Bonnie. I guess it just got added to the database yesterday.

Joshua Smith

Yeah, I added it when I got my order.

Also, thanks Bonnie! Have a great weekend yourself!

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91

Just a quick little note: I’m starting my internship tomorrow, so my reviews will be more limited until late August.

Anyway, This tea is delightful, espeically now that I understad why Verdant tea has Linen as one of the flavors. David Duckler had a post about tasting that discussed the other sensations, like touch and smell, and how they impact flavor. If you haven’t read it, you should check it out:

http://verdanttea.com/rebelling-against-the-tyranny-of-flavor/

I finally understand that the linen flavor is really the interesting sensation that you get on your tongue while drinking this tea, not a flavor in the traditional sense. Anyway, time to get back to unpack stuff from college…

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I’m glad you read that article too! All the best with the internship!

Joshua Smith

Thanks! I’m actually working at the same company as last year, and I’m friend with a few of my co-workers, so everything should go pretty smoothly. Also, since the HR rep that I need to see doesn’t get in until 9, I get to sleep in an hour!

Bonnie

Great!

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89

Alright, actually taking some time to properly review this tea. Unfortunately, my allergies are still acting up a bit, so I can’t really smell it (that, and the grass outside was just cut, which certainly doesn’t help). Anyway, the taste is interesting in that it’s both warming and cooling, and it’s actually very “clear.” The other shu that I had was very murky and tasted a bit like lake water. It’s very complex and flavors are all muddled together, but still enjoyable

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec
Bonnie

Hope you feel better!

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92

Alright, after surviving my last two exams and helping a friend move out, I finally have time to actually post a note. This is actually my second cup of tea, as I was really nervous this morning and made myself a cup of fukamushi sencha to calm down. Anyway, I went into this tea with kinda low expectations, as I really didn’t like the last dancong I had, but I was pleasantly surprised by this tea. This one is also juicy, but the flavors present seem better to me. This first cup displays evidence of something woody/spicy, and is a bit sweeter than I expected. I can’t wait to see how it develops.

To clarify, the previous cup was a bit rushed, and was interrupted frequently as my suite mate was moving out. That’s why I was a bit vague. Anyway, the second cup was really, really good. I actually got a chance to check out the aroma while it was still nice and hot, and it was simply astounding. The sandalwood seems to envelop me, making everything seem more peaceful and relaxing (which is amazing, considering I’m in my dorm room in the middle of packing, and there is stuff thrown everywhere). There are some other aromas present, but my allergies are acting up a bit, so they’re hard to catch for me right now. Anyway, the tea’s taste is also wonderful, with a bit more fruitiness than last time, but still retaining the juiciness of the previous cup. There is also a nice spice flavor developing, but it’s still a bit muddled.

Mmm, the third cup displays delightful development for the spice flavors. It tingles on my tongue after each sip. It’s also warming, which is nice since the weather took a turn for the worse and it’s raining right now. Anyway, back to the tea, it’s remarkable that it’s such a “warm” tea, yet is still tastes so juicy. It’s a very pleasant combination.

The forth and final cup was really nice, much like the third but more mellow. The spicy tingling has been reduced to a much weaker sensation. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s less and a tingle, but there is still a sensation involved. Anyway, it’s very pleasant, and I’m glad that I had a few hours to really do justice to this tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

Hooray for you! Done with the tests! Time fore R & R &Tea!

Joshua Smith

Yeah, pretty much. My internship starts on Monday, so I need to make the most of these next few days.

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89

My first impression of this tea is that it’s really, really good. My first experience with shu went pretty bad, but this is so much better. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for a full review, I have a double-header of exams tomorrow, and I need to review. I’ll reserve judgement until I have some time to really reflect on this tea.

After hours of studying and several (I lost count) cups of tea, I have to say that I do not in any way regret buying this tea. In all honesty, it’s actually a nice break from the Yunnan blacks that I’ve been favoring recently. I’ll try to post a more substantive review later this week, probably Thursday or Friday.

Bonnie

Blessings for your exams!

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91

It’s been a while since I had this, and I felt like having a green Oolong today, so my choices were fairly limited. Anyway, this tea is great because it’s really buttery, and because the aftertaste lingers for minutes. Some of my tea linger for a minute, maybe two on a really great day, but this Tie Guan Yin lingers for up to five minutes! Since this is the first cup, it’s not that complex yet, mostly grassy and buttery with hints of fruit, but I recall that this tea develops well.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Another day of intense study, another black tea, and another delightful piece of music. It’s really crunch time for me, so I’ll keep this brief. Today, I’m pairing this malty black tea with more philosophy (but I don’t agree with the author today, so it’s a bit frustrating…), and I’m listening to Das Rheingold as performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Georg Solti. Not the best recording, but I bought this when I was a little less picky, so if you know of a really good recording. please leave a comment.

Anyway, back to the tea, it’s very malty. Not as much as the Golden Buds that I was drinking yesterday, but it’s still the dominant flavor. The tea is a bit too strong yet to be classified as creamy, but I’d say that it will probably be next steep. Finally, the sweet aftertaste provides a nice smooth finish to complete the experience. It’s worthy to note that the tea is sweeter and a bit weaker than last time I brewed it, but not by a terribly significant margin.

As the forth scene of Das Rheingold draws to a close, so does my second cup of this tea. It must say that this was a singularly unique experience for drinking tea, but that might be due in part to the nasty weather I just had to deal with. Anyway, the malt flavor of the tea has begun to retreat a bit, and a wheat flavor has become evident. Also, the wonderful buttery mouth-feel has started to show itself, which combines with the wheat to give a sensation similar to taking a bite of buttered wheat bread, and letting it sit on the tongue. If you’ve ever done this, you’ll realize that it starts to taste sweeter the longer it sits there, kind of like how this tea has a sweet finish. Of course, you should take what I say with a grain of salt, as campus food leaves me longing for something a bit more flavorful…

As the the second act of Die Walküreplays (with an interlude of Byzantine music, see the comment from Bonnie for more info), the third cup of tea finally reached the right temperature to drink. The big developments of this cup was the malt flavor going dormant, and the beginnings of the peppercorn flavors beginning to show up in the aftertaste, lingering on the hard palate of my mouth. Unfortunately, I think this tea is past it’s prime, and I’ll probably only get one more cup out of these leaves.

Ah, the forth infusion of this tea was delightful in it’s subtleties. Most of the flavors of the tea are in decline, but the peppercorn flavor provides a delightful sensation as it dances across the surfaces of the mouth, and once again lingering on the hard palate. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else left for the flavor, so this is definitely the final cup. Surprisingly, one of the things that has stuck around until the (figuratively) bitter end was the buttery mouthfeel. Usually this little sensation would have been long gone from the tea, but that just goes to show how good this tea really is.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I began to notice on the second steep as it cooled a bit a yam sugar wheat bread flavor, but you’re right that it was not as malty. I did enjoy this tea. I was listening to Russian Chant with it.

Joshua Smith

Oh, I remember when you posted that! That was some wonderful music to listen to, and sparked a bit of n obsession for me. Anyway, as I’m sitting here composing the edit for the second post, I have to agree with you about the wheat bread flavor in the second infusion. Combined with the newly-emerged buttery mouth-feel, it creates a very cozy experience, especially since the weather here has taken a turn for the dreary.

Bonnie

Very good too! Here is something different…tell me what you think. It is in Hagia Sophia (now a museum) so you know what it means to me that it is being sung in this sacred space. http://youtu.be/RwFYUJb03d0
So many people have never heard the more ancient Byzantine Christian music like this. It is still being sung here in the U.S. too.

Joshua Smith

Wow. That was some powerful stuff. The best part was the acoustics of of the Hagia Sophia letting the voices echo, giving the music that otherworldly quality. I wish I could get an album that was full of music like that…

Bonnie

I have a bunch of CD’s. Jim Marks can shoot you suggestions. I can shoot you a message with some I have but I need to go to the post office to send some samples off to a guy in Denver. I’ll be back. Uh Look at Sacred Treasures Choral Masterworks from Russia there’s a series (Hearts of Space) but I have others from like St. Catherines on Mt. Sinai and Vaalam in Russia and so on.

Joshua Smith

That would be greatly appreciated. I’ll send Jim Marks a PM to ask him as well. Again, thanks for the recommendations!

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91

First of all, the music for today is the album Beethoven: The Late String Quartets by The Emerson String Quartet. Anyway, I was generous with the amount of leaves I used, and I let it steep a bit longer than usual, but the result of the first steep was still great. The tea is blacker than my ex’s heart, but very warming when you actually take a sip. The flavor is intensely malty, with some nice cinnamon undertones, which results in a pleasant tingling sensation that lingers on the tongue for about two minutes. It’s a very intense experience, and was perfect for waking me up (I’m barely sentient until I have my caffeine). Anyway, this tea pairs well with my music and my activities (reading a bunch of books and articles to study for finals), so I’m really glad that I picked it for today.

The second infusion is still malty, but the cinnamon as gotten more prominent, the taste has sweetened a great deal, and the overall experience is smoother. The aftertaste has a smooth, almost-mineral quality to it. It’s like the tea is starting to become creamy, but it isn’t quite there yet. This is probably due to how strong I brewed the tea, but I’m certain that the next cup will have the creamy goodness that I remember. In the mean time, I’m going to enjoy the current flavor as much as possible.

The third infusion is malty, creamy, and a touch spicy due to the cinnamon flavor. There’s no linen (not that I’ve ever tasted the illusive linen flavor of this tea before), and the citrus flavors hasn’t made an appearance yet. Regardless, it is a well-balanced cup of tea, where the flavors harmonize quite well. On a side note, I switched my music over to J. S. Bach’s Das Musikalische Opfer, a delightfully complex piece of music to complement the tea’s development. My recording is even better because it is a Historically Informed recording, played on period instruments with a tuning system that Bach preferred. The end result is an astounding. Anyway, the tea is getting more complex, and it’s various flavors mesh together well to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 45 sec
Bonnie

There is no tea blacker than an ex’s heart. But I love that phrase! I give you an A+!

Joshua Smith

Bonnie – Thanks! I chuckled a bit when I wrote it, as it is a bit absurd, but then I asked myself what one of my professors would say. He’s an editor for the Washington Post, teaching a course about narrative journalism, so I though he would have said to use it for the emotional impact. Then I realized I was over-thinking the problem, and left it there.

Incidentally, A+ is the grade this professor gave me on a recent paper, so I’m glad you agree with him! XD

Bonnie

The only A+ I ever received was in advanced comp at San Jose State Univ. which knocked me over! It was on the day my ex-(darker than tea..) went into the Vet’s Rehab for alcohol and I had 2 kids to support all of a sudden! I needed that A+! Treasure your A+ and congradulations! (an aside the ex- has cancer and just came to say goodbye to his children 43 and 39 and asked me to forgive him which I had done long ago. Black as tea hearts do change!)

Joshua Smith

The paper I wrote was about the book Hiroshima by John Hersey, a very influential and thought-provoking novella from 1946. It’s interesting because it is told from the point of view of people who were living in the city, and follows them through the immediate aftermath of the explosion. If you ever run out of material to read, you should check this out. Also, this is one of maybe five A+’s I’ve gotten in two years of college (the rest were for programming assignment, so they hardly count). I’m honestly thinking of having it framed…

Anyway, thanks for the encouragement, and hopefully your ex- gets better. I’ve seen a good third of my family get cancer, and I really don’t wish it on anyone, regardless of their past.

Bonnie

Great read! I had A ‘s too that meant less. My A+ was for a paper on my work at the Children’s Shelter School in San Mateo County. A one room class K thru 12th with. 1 teacher and myself. Awesome experience! I was allowed to create art, music, field trips, cooking etc on my own and had a ball! I think this is why my daughter is a foster parent today. Frame your A+!

Joshua Smith

That sounds kinda fun, but I don’t have the right personality for it. I’m just not a very patient person, so I get frustrated with children. That, and I have a really hard time explaining things to them. I tried to teach my younger brother some basic calculus once, but things that I take for granted were like magic for him…

Anyway, the stuff that you talked about seems like it was a really great experience. A lot of the stuff that you mentioned is difficult for teachers in Norther Virginia because you need to deal with stingy bureaucracies. My mother (a second grade teacher) needs to do hours of paperwork to get a field trip scheduled. It’s obvious that you were either working during a more ideal time (the 60’s or 70’s?), or your school district was a bit more liberal than mine.

Geoffrey

You have good taste in music, Joshua. Beethoven’s Late String Quartets are among my favorite pieces of music. First you got David’s, now you’ve got mine. I particularly like the recordings the Vermeer Quartet made of this. To date, they give the most moving treatment of the Heiliger Dankgesang (op. 132) I have heard. The third movement, and centerpiece of the whole quartet, is what I use to measure all performances and recordings of these works.

I’ve at times said that if I were facing the prospect of going deaf, and given the choice to listen to one last piece of music, I would choose this. Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart (A Convalescent’s Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Divinity, in the Lydian Mode)… A fitting title for an amazing work of art. It’s final climactic passages especially, when done right, and listened to with the appropriate quality of attention… it’s like hearing the very heart of existence break open and throb.

Joshua Smith

Hm, the Vermeer Quartet recording sounds interesting. I need to do a bit more research, but it’s likely that it will end up on my wishlist. I bought my recording because it was by the same group that did my wonderful recordings of Shostakovich’s string quartets, and in retrospect, it’s one of my least researched purchases…

Anyway, thanks for the recommendation, and if you have any more please feel free to pm me or drop a comment after one of my notes here. I’m always looking for more music, especially classical music.

Daniel Scott

Oh hey, just realized this is a really recent review.

That being the case, do you mind if I ask where you got the specific recording you mention in the last paragraph? I mean, how would I find it?

Joshua Smith

I actually got it on iTunes. The name of the album is “Bach, J.S.: The Art of Fugue BWV 1080”, and the artist is Musica Antiqua Köln. That should be enough to find it on iTunes. If you want to look for other recordings, I would suggest looking at this site:
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/Drilldown?name_id1=527&name_role1=1&genre=227&bcorder=19&comp_id=103

This is a list of recommended recordings, of which the one I mention is part of.

Daniel Scott

Awesome, thank you! It being on iTunes is very convenient.

Joshua Smith

If you really start to get into classical music, then your going to get very disappointed with iTunes. They just don’t have the selection that can even begin to compare to Arkivmusic.

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Bio

I am a university student, studying Computer Science, who found that I really enjoy a nice cup of tea. I finally got into loose-leaf tea in August of 2011. I am currently in the process of expanding my horizons, and have found that I have a particular fondness for Oolongs in general, and Wuyi Yanchas in particular. The unique mineral taste is very appealing to me, as well as a nice Sencha. More recently, I’ve developed a taste for Sheng puerh, white tea, and black teas. The only things I’ve tried that I didn’t like was Shu puerh, but that might have been because it was quite young. Regardless, I’ve been slowly expanding my horizons, so if you have any recommendations, please feel free to send me a PM.

Just for the heck of it, my other interests include classical musics (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Debussy, Shostakovitch, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Wagner, to name a few composers). I also have a fondness for a bit more modern music, like The Beatles, all Jazz (by all, I really do mean all), Gorillaz (I love Demon Days), and a couple of Indie artists you will never run across unless you play a lot of semi obscure Indie games. Also, I love cats.

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Fairfax, VA

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