Golden Fleece

Tea type
Black Tea
Chinese Black Tea
Almond, Anise, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Celery, Cocoa, Fennel, Honey, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Saffron, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood, Yams, Orange Blossom, Sweet, Creamy, Sweet Potatoes, Spices, Mushrooms, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Coffee, Meat, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Cinnamon, Smooth, Pastries, Earth, Musty, Sugar, Grass, Sugarcane
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Edit tea info Last updated by CHAroma
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 15 sec 4 g 11 oz / 338 ml

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259 Tasting Notes View all

  • “First, thank you SO MUCH to David @ Verdant for sending me this sample!! I wasn’t on Steepster when this tea emerged, never got to try it, & have always (I say “always”, but I’ve only been on...” Read full tasting note
  • “oh hello you gorgeous cup of tea that is so unlike the last cup i had that i bath in the glory that is you. yeah.. that’s right. i’m looking at you…plain old golden fleece, the one that is never...” Read full tasting note
  • “I feel like I’ve been avoiding this tea subconciously. As if it’s too much of a big deal or something… I went ahead and order 2oz of it, but I don’t want to mess it up or anything. I mean, those...” Read full tasting note
  • “I guess I’ll be the first civilian foolish enough to talk about this tea. As soon as you unseal the bag and get that heady aroma that’s been trapped in there, you know you’re in for something...” Read full tasting note

From Verdant Tea

This wild-picked Golden Fleece is an exquisite lesson in texture, and one of the truest flavor embodiments of Yunnan itself. . . .

This is the finest, most nuanced and intriguing Dian Hong we have ever encountered. Wang Yanxin, our sourcing agent who has devoted her life to Yunnan, has been searching for a Dian Hong like this for years. Every time she sends us pu’er, she includes 30-40 Dian Hong teas, and Jin Jun Mei teas. This time, she only sent us one, and wrote on the bag “this is the one. Best Dian Hong. Taste slowly.” She was so very right.

This tea is not the assertive experience that some seek in a black tea. It is not robust in the traditional sense, Instead, this is a subtle experience that will appeal to lovers of fine oolong and pu’er. The mouthfeel is perfectly smooth- not creamy, but silky. The taste unfolds slowly, confident in itself. The sweetness begins like that of vanilla ice cream, but quickly expands on the palate in the aftertaste with a gentle tingling similar to raw sugar. An enveloping honey profile is also present.

The wild-picked buds yield an intriguingly well-integrated spice profile. It is hard to pick it apart, but there are certainly cinnamon flavors, and the sweetness of ground clove and allspice. The tea has a warming quality and a brightness that truly feels like sunlight. In later steepings a satisfying thickness like incense and sweet morel mushrooms begins to develop and mix with the sparkling and sweet qualities.

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259 Tasting Notes

792 tasting notes

I decided to crack open my sample of this today and made one big pot long steep (+3min steep) and one little glass pot steep (15sec).

15sec is light and smooth, but on the bright and sweet side. My roommate tried some and asked if I added a little sugar to it. Big pot has a thicker flavour, and yielded honey nectar syrup. I don’t really pick up any spices from either session but long steep has something musky about it that may be reminiscent of cloves.

For me this is a very sweet tea. Maybe that changes in later steeps, but I won’t find out until later tonight.


Oh wow, I wouldn’t have thought that this one would be that sweet.


Yes it has a honey quality…not dark honey though. The sweetness is cocoa cream to me.


I love Dian Hongs. A good one can taste like mead.


…and I just realized that almost all the “good” black teas in my book taste like alcohol!

Darjeelings = Champagne
Keemun = Whiskey
Assam = Bourbon


I have a puerh that was aged in a bourbon barrel and it’s crazy good!


OMG Bonnie…bourbon barrel puerh??? That DOES sound amazing.


Comes from Oregon…I’ll have to review it…but Happy Luckys Tea House in Fort Collins has a few pounds for sale (might be on the website.. don’t know though). Not ‘flavored’
but ‘aged’ in the bourbon barrel until all that yum gets infused into the puerh. Pretty kickin!

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30 tasting notes

Wang Yanxin did it- She actually acquired several more pounds of the Golden Fleece from her friends who wild-pick this tea in Yunnan. I didn’t want to breathe a word about it until the package made it to Minneapolis, I opened all the bags and tasted to be sure, but I can say that the Golden Fleece is back. It was somewhat mind-boggling to see the whole last batch sell out in one hour, so I hope that my work to convince Wang Yanxin to part with more than a pound this time will allow more people to try this tea.

Wang Yanxin is such an interesting character. Getting tea from her is not as simple as ordering it. She will allude to a tea that you never knew that she had, dangling it out like a test. If I ask to buy the tea, it is suddenly gone, ‘sold out.’ Only through a discussion of flavor texture and aftertaste will Wang Yanxin decide whether or not to part with teas like this. She wants to know that it is going to be appreciated and cared for. She wants to see the tea leaves advancing the tea culture. On the occasions that I can convey appreciation appropriately, we end up with tea like the Golden Fleece, Artisan Revival Sheng and Yiwu.

She is not trying to be temperamental. Indeed, her desire is to inspire people all over the world to fall in love with tea, and through it gain a respect for the leaf and a humility towards others. She wants small farmers to gain recognition for their tea without the pomp and glitter of brand name pu’er workshops. She is an idealist, but a fierce and practical one. The Golden Fleece is an incredible tea in that the majority of its complexity lies in texture and aftertaste, two elements of the tea experience that are underrated. In the west we tend to prize flavor above all else. Yet flavor is only a fraction of what tea has to offer. Golden Fleece gives so much in flavor, but so much more in texture, and sensation. Wang Yanxin is sometimes concerned about whether the merits of a tea like this will be noticed.

Thanks to support from so many friends on Steepster, so many intelligent and thoughtful tasting notes, and such a positive and humble attitude towards tea, I have material to translate and share with Wang Yanxin, making her more and more comfortable releasing teas like this.

The Golden Fleece will be available on our website Friday May 18th at 12 noon CST, along with an entirely new black tea offering, the Zhu Rong Yunnan Black, named after a dagger-wielding warrior queen of Yunnan. I hope that both teas are enjoyed thoroughly.
Many Thanks,


Noooooo I told myself no more purchases :( We’ll see how well that works out for me at noon tomorrow…

Autumn Hearth

Me too Krystaleyn, husband said $30 is my limit


I already told my employees that the office is mine at 11:55! No way I’m missing out on it this time around if I can help it!! Thank you for the work you continue to do to bring teas like this stateside!


(Is anyone else moderately worried that Verdant’s site will crash due to too much traffic shortly before noon tomorrow??)

Charles Thomas Draper

I thought this was a secret. I hope I get some….


I GOT MINE!!! 2 oz. of GOLDEN FLEECE AND 2 oz. of the new Zhu Rong Yunnan Black! Yo Jason…isn’t there a movie about you getting the Golden Fleece huh!?!
It’s your destiny! I got the kindest message from a friend in Italy of all places informing me of the time today (I knew about it like so many who were on the list in case it became available again). We are a good group of tea people!


I was able to get 2oz as well! Yes, the Argonauts and I will be enjoying this one soon!

David Duckler

Thanks for the reference Bonnie. I have been waiting for someone to make it. Great to look through the orders and see that I get to send this one out to so many of you. I am so glad that Wang Yanxin was able to secure a few more pounds of this one than last time. My hope is that it lasts at least through the evening and into the weekend, if only because I have put a claim on 4oz if it is left on Monday.

That Zhu Rong Black is something else too. It tastes great in a tasting paired with a Big Red Robe or Dancong to bring out the dark deep spices. I told Wang Yanxin about the excitement for today’s release and she was very proud and happy. I have another shipment from her leaving China next week and she said that we will be very pleased with some of the surprises inside.


Well I just ordered some at 8pm CST… I was so pleased to see it was still available since I wasn’t going to have internet until tonight. Can’t wait to try it (and the others I ordered!)!

Michelle Butler Hallett

An astonishingly beautiful tea.

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583 tasting notes

2tsp for 300mL water (very fluffy tea, guess-timating here), steeped four minutes 45 seconds, drunk bare.

I’ve deliberately not made this tea for a while, so I could experience it again like something new.

Liquor is honey-coloured. Lots of sweet potato notes in his cup, and a fuzzy tingling from the down on the leaves that gets into the liquor. Clean, sun-baked earth. A joy to drink.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Second infusion: steeped four minutes 30 seconds. Not as fuzzy this time, and less sweet potato, more Yunnan tea notes. A gentle black tea. Lots of honey still.


Sounds lovely!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Oh, it is. Worth every penny, and every day waited for shipping.


Hopefully they’ll be able to get more of this sometime.

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417 tasting notes

Thank you Kasumi no Chajin for the sample!

Well, work has finally calmed down and my sudden strong espresso craving has subsided. So, I finally have the time to enter the notes that I have for my side-by-side tasting of “new” and “old” Golden Fleece today! I’m pretty sure that they must be different years or something, but I think I will email Verdant to ask (I still haven’t done this).

Instead of trying to figure out what my rough notes meant, I’ve decided to just put them here as is:

“Old” Golden Fleece- elegant, whiskey, peanuts still covered in cellulose, silky texture, Morel mushrooms, sour.

“New” Golden Fleece- unripened banana aroma, earthy, mushroom, vanilla, wet forest floor, foam on leaves.

I remember liking them both very much, and I am unable to come to a strong opinion as to which I prefer.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
Charles Thomas Draper

Did you notice a change in flavor? One could be a spring and one an autumn harvest.


There were differences in appearance, aroma, flavor…Only the color seemed consistent between the two. I’ll edit this post with my complete notes after I’m done. I’ve only steeped each three times so far.

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525 tasting notes

Said to husband, “I’m about to start quiet tea time…don’t bother me!” Using my gaiwan today. I haven’t quite mastered it, but this tea’s reputation seems to call for something special.

Dry smell: bark, sweet buttery cream, coconut mochi, spice, light cocoa. It smells like dessert.

I love how the dusting of the brown tea fuzz makes everything look like it’s been covered in cocoa.

Steep 1: Hot water hits the leaves. Wow. Such a luscious sweet aroma. The taste is sweet creamy cocoa. Smooth and refined, yet dark and reminiscent of wilderness. Thick mouthfeel. I keep sniffing my cup. It’s fantastic. Non-tea scented air is so plebeian.

Steep 2: Hmm, darker. There’s some spice here…like roots. Still sweet and cocoa-y, but also more savory somehow. Mouthfeel is still brothy, but the moment the liquid moves past my tongue, I feel the effects of astringency. Liking steep #1 more so far. I probably went too long with this steep though. Let’s try again.

Steep 3: Oh my. The caffeine is kicking in. This is why I can’t do gong fu tea more often. Or if only I could convince husband to have tea with me. But the tea! mmmm… this steep is good. not so astringent as the last one. Dark and tastes like bark. Sweet cream and vanilla. Smells like ancient forest.

Steep 4: Last one till later. Something floral now. I’m terrible at recognizing floral scents and flavor except for jasmine and rose. And this is neither. More vanilla and dark spice.

This is a heavy rich tea. Nothing like the light springy green oolongs that i adore. Yet, I still enjoyed this thoroughly. More steeps to come, but my belly feels sloshy. I got a 4oz gaiwan, which produces about a quarter cup of liquid after allowing for the tea leaves and water absorption, but I’m still wishing I had a smaller gaiwan. They don’t seem to come much smaller than this.

Anyway, I’m feeling all warm and alive. Somehow relaxed yet alert. Lovely.

EDIT Here are my lovely tea companions (not imbibing)[email protected]/8438839204/


Steep 5: Did not record this one while drinking. It was starting to develop that flavor tea gets if the wet leaves stay out too long. But the flavor of the tea underneath is still good. A bit weak, but I will blame that on my steeping time.

Steep 6: Reminds me to dark rye bread. It is a strong tea but the flavors are becoming more subtle now. There is bitterness in the swallow. Almost unpleasant.

Though I had originally wanted a ceramic gaiwan, I must say that this glass one has its charms.

Steep 7: This is, again, light. Reminds me of watered down barley tea. Or toasted rice porridge, which my grandpa was very fond of. This next steep shall be left to develop.

Does anyone else get super thirsty from gong fu sessions? I think I’ve chugged like 2 tall glasses of water since I started this late morning.


Aw. They look relaxed and soft. :)


They are both. :) A nice warm gong fu session, the sound and sight of barely snoring puppies. A lovely sunny winter weekend morning. I couldn’t ask for more.


I was looking at gaiwans this morning and came across one from Dragon Tea House that is only 50ml, less than 2oz! They are beautiful but not cheap because they are hand painted.


Oh my, they are gorgeous! Could I have an unpainted one for a discount? :p


I know, right? I really want the birds and lychee one, though.


That one is cute! I’m partial to the bamboo one myself. :)


D’awwwwww, puppies!! And it’s funny actually – lately when I’ve been brewing up tea, I’ve been hit with super strong thirst, enough that I knock back a cup of ice cold water. While I’m in the midst of brewing up like 7 teas. I suspect that iced tea would do be just as well were it available, but I’m thinking that at least in my case, pouring water, etc. for tea just makes me realize I’m thirsty/dehydrated…


I suspect it’s the diuretic properties in tea. Gong fu tea is concentrated tea which delivers more diuretics with less liquid medium so it makes sense to become thirsty. I didn’t think it would make me that thirsty though. :) Husband wanted to know why I was drinking tea and water at the same time.


You’re probably right! It’s definitely still kind of amusing/strange though :P

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1779 tasting notes

I’m a bit afraid to actually review this. It’s a Verdant Tea, and not only that, it’s super fancy and expensive. And it’s a Yunnan, which I like. :O How can I possibly do it justice?

Here goes….?

Steep One (1 min): It’s silky and sweet. The aroma is warm and welcoming. It’s also very honeyed in note, which is what I associate with Yunnan teas!

Steep Two (1 min): Still silky and sweet. A bit of something stronger in the undercurrent. Still honey – maybe more?

Steep Three (1 min, still): Even after 20oz, I’m still enjoying this. I am however getting bored of trying to analyze every steep. Maybe today wasn’t the day to do that.

I am sitting and enjoying each sip, but sometimes analyzing it takes some of the fun away. (Sometimes it adds to it)

ETA: This was tasty, but at the price I probably wouldn’t stock it.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

I just western steep it, add milk and sugar, and it is good, but yeah, I could get cheaper teas that are tasty like it…especially if I am not drinking it pure.

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172 tasting notes

I just received my first order from Verdant and I’m very excited to try out all of the teas I received. After reading the extremely fond, well written reviews I was most excited to try this one. I don’t have what you would call a “refined” palate, I’m sure there’s a lot that I miss in my inexperience but I’ll try my best. Let me start off by saying that the dry leaf smells fantastic. I honestly cannot think of proper words to describe the smell, but it was more pungent than I had imagined and very pleasant. Once brewed and allowed to cool off a bit, it was time to taste this wonderful tea. After reading the reviews, I knew I had to pay close attention to the texture of the tea, something I’m not used to doing. To me, it seems best described as a little bit thick or syrupy, and it’s a very pleasant sensation. On top of that, I get a drying sensation like that of silver needles I have tried. It’s as if I feel the little downy hairs of the tea buds dancing around on my tongue. The taste is primarily malty in a “bright” kind of way, with honey flavors comparable to Teavivre’s Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip. I’m enjoying this tea very much so far and I feel lucky to have been able to try it.

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1258 tasting notes

Oh man, this tea is good! This taste so much different than other golden tipped blacks I’ve had. I think this tea is all golden tip than black! (totally check out the photos I took on my blog entry)

Golden Fleece’s flavor is quite nice: kinda nutty, little spice and lots of sweet vanilla and marshmallow root like flavor. Also a really nice silky texture to this tea. The silky creamy aftertaste sticks throughout all the infusions. I’m talking 17 infusions here!

In sum, Golden Fleece is like drinking liquid gold!

Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl

Sigh, all these tasty blacks I’ve been drinking makes me feel like I should buy another yixing pot for black tea. Argg!


Well, you can never have enough teapots! ;)


OMG! That new shaded brown owl is super cute too! I may have to buy one of these from you…and by “one” I mean one HUNDRED! LOL!

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1328 tasting notes

I honestly don’t know why I bought a sample of this. I don’t really much care for most Yunnans because 95% of them tastes like hay to me, and I particularly don’t enjoy the golden ones. I suppose it was just extreme curiosity that came over me. (Strangely though, I can find myself in a state of mild panic sometimes over not having any Yunnan at all in the house, so there must be a time and a need for it. I just haven’t figured out what it is that creates this)

I suspect that I got this out of simply sheer curiosity, since I was ordering a vast amount of Laoshan Black anyway. When this one was first introduced to Steepster at large it was with many a word of praise, and those who got their hands on some swooned en masse. Really, they fell like flies! So I thought when I ordered, now is my chance to see what all the fuss is about.

The fuss is indeed about a golden type, but with that name I would honestly have been rather disappointed if the sample had not contained bright yellow leaves.

The aroma is heavy and smoky. I’m getting a fair bit of pepper here too, and a funny sensation that there is more depth to it than this, but gravity itself is preventing the aroma molecules from being pulled into my nose. There is also a thick sort of smell, that makes me think it smells as though I’ve put milk in it. (Which, for the record, is something I never do. No additives here, ever.) It doesn’t, however, seem to smell like hay at all. Good!

The first sip is a confused jumble of flavours that I can’t pick out from one another. On the whole, it feels thick. It’s this pseudo-milk sensation again. And then there’s an aftertaste of pepper and smoke. But all that stuff in between? That’s just a right mess. It feels all tangled up in there, so I’ll have to see if I can untangle it a bit.

No, I can’t. Or rather, I’m not sure it’s actually really necessary, because every sip I try, here, just gives me those three same primary notes. First the milkiness, then pepper and a smidge of smoke. Under it all we’ve got that hay, that I was fully expecting, but it’s not as prominent as it can sometimes be with these types.

And that’s really all there is to it. This is a funny sort of tea which has a fairly simple flavour profile but somehow manages to make it seem like it’s extremely complicated. I’m not sure how that even works at all.

Unfortunately for me, I does fall somewhat to the fact that I’m just generally unimpressed with Yunnans and it just doesn’t hit my swoon-buttons. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, because I honestly hadn’t expected to swoon either, but I am still somewhat underwhelmed. Sorry.


You like what you like. No need to feel sorry at all.


haha i don’t love it either, seemingly for similar reasons as you. :)


Starfevre, I’m not really either. I don’t know why I added it, because it tends to annoy me when others make excuses for themselves in that way. When I read it, it sounds more dismissive than sincere in my mind. :)

Sil, yeah, I’m just not a Yunnan person. I like the dragon pearls from Yunnan, but that seems to be about it. On the other hand, now that I’ve got started on this one, I’ve steeped it three times. Might as well get my money’s worth. :) It’s not by any means bad, it’s not even really boring. But it’s just a Yunnan.

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676 tasting notes

My first tasting

Everyone is getting their Golden Fleece in the mail and reviewing it! What a treat!

I watched David’s video on the Verdant website and chose the method of steeping with a basket in a mug…just to be different than what I’ve done before. All the timing was the same as the video and I’m recording 6 steepings. After that I was full and happy!

I. The scent struck me first. It was like one of my sweet potato pies…full of the best cinnamon and butter, steaming hot right out of the oven. There was a scent like pineapple far off. Taking a careful sip was like plunging into a pool of water and gasping for air. The flavor was clean but humid like the tropics after a rain and you take a breath which is juicy and spice filled from exotic plants. I could taste the spotted verdura plantains ripe but barely sweet. The tea became creamier as it cooled.

2. My tongue lit up. Fire! There is no tannin but heat on my tongue with butter lettuce and juice. I put my nose into the glass mug and breathed in and out…slowly inhaling steam. Sugared creamy pudding. I have no idea how to say what the flavor was! Tapioca? Something had happened physically to me! The tea was in my pores like I’d had a tea transfusion! It was all over me! Whoa…what an awesome feeling!

3. Cake. Juicy cake.

4. The insides of my lips were tingling and my mouth and cheeks felt like they were vibrating. This was too strange (but not bad)! I know that I have a brain dysfunction, but I’d like to know if anyone else has a tea high like this!

5. Very spicy and juicy.

6. Here’s where it also got interesting. I’ve had all these steepings to think about the flavor. Pie, yam, cinnamon, juicy, lettuce…all good. Then, a memory came in to ruin everything and I had to put it here.
My old Aunt had a cabin in the Coast Range Mt’s. of California, where my daughter also lived before moving to Colorado. The place is Mount Hermon, close to Santa Cruz and is in the Redwoods. The smell of the Redwood forest floor, the California Scrub Oak, Bay, Myrtle, Laurel, Arbutus, and….Wild Blackberry bushes not far from the ocean! That smell and this tea. The forest floor and the berries in the sun is what I thought of on the last sip.

I want to recommend using a Gaiwan for this tea. My infusions were very successful but I know that a Gaiwan would allow these tea leaves to have contact with the water better. I am still tasting the tea long after finishing the actual drinking of it. Like liquor I am tea drunk. I expect my rating will increase as I have more experience with this tea.

I want everyone to know that I did NOT read the review notes of anyone besides Jim Marks prior to my tasting today. So whatever I wrote is my opinion and you can form your own!

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