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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Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by CHAroma
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 11 oz / 338 ml

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257 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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257 Tasting Notes

81 tasting notes

Venturing into the world of tea and searching for that “Golden Fleece” can turn up quite a confusing adventure where nearly every sip and smell and taste could be the proverbial “Golden Fleece” ! Suffice to say I am writing to you all while drinking Golden Fleece, courtesy of wild tea trees of Xishuangbanna. True to its testament as the embodiment of Yunnan teas, Golden Fleece has all the attributes of Yunnan teas being velvety, a tad bit spicy, smooth, sweet and medium bodied with just a hint of minerals.
Successive brewing from five seconds to 15 gave off aromas of boiling sugarcane juice with subtle morel notes that adds a minerally vegetal note. Brewing from 15 seconds to 35 seconds raises the level of sweetness, becomes far more velvety that hugs the palate and coats the throat, a bit of molasses comes out to brings a bit of boldness in the aroma. Past the minute mark in brewing from successive brews flattens out to a linen, lightly sweet and coarse sensation, not that its actually coarse. Throughout most of the sessions not once the tea became too bitter, too faint, too astringent that prevents most of the uniqueness to shine.
This my friends is what tea is! The very height of crafts of a culture and abilities of one plant no matter how mundane it looks nor how ordinary its product bestows to thirsty mouths. The quest for the real “Golden Fleece” however maybe a fool’s errand, yet almost certainly the most simplest pleasure in life is one with kindred spirits and a beverage as historical as the world over! Do drink on steepsterites!
Cheers, Tony!

Terri HarpLady

Beautifully said, Anthony!

Anthony Bazic

why thank you Terri! Its quite a tea have, Yunnan will have something in store for all of us! That first sip of a Yunnan tea a couple of years ago was something special, an awakening on how much nature can bestows us with a great bounty and reach a zenith in the most ordinary of drinks. Tea. Certainly, to me and the Chinese tea is life, find meaning and messages that resounds through its essence, find time to appreciate its awe in simplicity with a healthful respect for nature and its wonderful capabilities. There are no “golden fleeces” to be found yet but the ones a heart aches for, for its tea. Do drink on Terri!

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62 tasting notes

I really like Yunnan teas, so I was almost certain that I would love this one. But I was skeptical due to the hyperbolic description. I’ve tried a number of Yunnan teas, including all-bud teas so I wondered how this one would be different. When I opened my bag of Golden Fleece the dry leaves looked and smelled very similar to Rishi’s Organic Ancient Golden Buds. When I put my nose into the bag, I could smell the difference. Golden Fleece had a more potent aroma, and unlike Golden Buds it had strong caramel and cocoa notes coming off the dry leaves. My guess is that it is fresher than Rishi’s Golden Buds. But dry leaf aroma doesn’t always equal taste, so I brewed Golden Fleece Western-style exactly the same way I brew Golden Buds. The aroma of the wet leaves was very similar between the two teas, and my initial tastes were similar as well. I started thinking, “There’s nothing special about this. It’s just Golden Buds!” However, when I took more sips of Golden Fleece, the differences started to become apparent. This tea runs neck and neck with Golden Buds, but comes out slightly ahead. The differences are subtle. Golden Fleece has a more complex flavor and a longer-lasting aftertaste. The spiciness of Golden Fleece also leaves a slight tingling on the tongue.

These teas are so close that I picture two farmers (one Rishi supplier, one Verdant supplier) who live across a dirt road from one another each arguing that they have superior golden tea.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

I think if you compared their steeping life, too, you’d also find the Golden Fleece comes out far ahead, and then there’s that texture on this one… Try them side-by-side, and I think you’ll see what I mean (just get yourself some snacks and comfy chairs, because it’s going to be a long session). A comparison done gongfu style (lots of leaf, super short steeping times) would also be very revealing. The style of steeping is not for everyone or every occassion, but it’s usually where I find the very-most rewarding experiences.

As for the arguing farmers, it would be a hard fight, because the Golden Fleece isn’t grown by a farmer- it’s wildpicked!! That’s an amazing thing I love about this tea. The poor Rishi farmer would just be yelling at the primordeal forests of Yunnan, winning him nothing but a sore throat and worried looks from his neighbors.


I would like to compare Rishi Golden Buds, Rishi Golden Needle, and Verdant Golden Fleece side-by-side if I could get my hands on some more of the Rishi tea. The farmers arguing was just supposed to be a joke. I didn’t mean to mislead anyone about the origins of the Verdant Tea.


Definitely! I didn’t think you were trying to be misleading at all- just spinning out the imagined scenario to even more silliness. :)

Do you get your Rishi teas mostly online, or from local resellers? We used to have a teashop nearby that sold lots of Rishi tea, but it recently went out of business. :/ Also- I noticed Rishi is selling something called Ancient Golden Yunnan. It’s not the same name as the Ancient Buds, but it could be similar?


I order my Rishi teas online. I don’t think the Golden Yunnan is the same. I don’t think it’s an all bud tea.

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348 tasting notes

Finally! Finally, finally, FINALLY!

I got to try this. And it was perfect. I have a fetish for Yunnan golds in general….but now I have one for this tea in specific. After nearly two years of people extolling its virtues, it finally made it into my cup. It was honey-ish, malty, floral, and teagasmic in all the right ways. Definitely worth the hype.

Even better was the conversation it invoked. You can find that here:

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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38 tasting notes

Now that I have tasted Golden Fleece, I can die happy…honestly, that is about what I expected after reading the reviews. Ummmm, for real, it’s…good? I mean it is a nice tea, really. For the price and hype? Nah, not so much. Jing Tea Shop used to sell one remarkably like for almost nothing under the category of everyday teas. (Which they no longer have, after they sold out and remained that way for a long, long time). Yes, Golden Fleece has bigger leaves. But, the smell and the taste are much the same. Upton’s Yunnan Rare Grade also has the same wonderful candy/ sugar cookie smell and, to me, the same taste. Maybe better. I guess that marks me as a tea peasant.

Really, I’ve made this tea three times now and I end up trying to remind myself that this is a great tea and to appreciate it. Because, when I’m drinking it, it doesn’t hit me and I end up just slurping it down. Some teas really make me quite happy, time after time (Yunnan Rare Grade) and when I find myself drinking it in a distracted manner, the taste reminds me and I remember and think “Dang, that’s good!” It is kind of the opposite with Golden Fleece. I guess I can save a lot of money, at least on this one…

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

You are no peasant if you appreciate Upton’s Yunnan Rare Grade! That is deeply good stuff. :)

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35 tasting notes

Phenomenal. I preheated both the gaiwan and my cup with boiling water. Weighed out 4g of leaf for 4oz of boiling water. Quick rinse and decant. Steeped the first infusion for 2 seconds. The aroma is similar to malt extract, oxidized/honey smell. Caramel notes abound. The liquor is slightly hazy but a nice shade of brown with hints of red. Extremely smooth mouthfeel. Absolutely no astringency. Some spice in the flavor. Very well integrated. Lots of complex caramel. Delicious.


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147 tasting notes

I’ll write more later…but I just wanted to write a quick note to say…

I have never had a tea like this before in my life. I’t exquisite and complex.


Terri HarpLady

That says it all Ali! :)

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117 tasting notes

I was a little skeptical because of all the hype this tea gets, but I have to admit I’m pretty impressed. I’m finding this tea really good in a really subtle sort of way. It’s very light and very smooth, and there nothing even a little bit thorny or offensive about it. All the flavors melt together perfectly, nothing really sticks out. And it tastes… like what a black tea should taste like.

(It also reminds me a lot of the Zhu Rong Yunnan Black, but vanilla instead of chocolate. =])

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49 tasting notes

I don’t know if this is left over from 2011, or 2012, but it’s still a favorite black tea. Seems a shadow of its former self, though still satisfying. Maybe I’m wrong… Or maybe leaving it in its original packaging did it no favors. Regardless, it’s still lightyears from a loss.

I’m rarely in the mood for a black tea, but when I know I’ve got a hankering, I know I’ve got a hankering. Today was one of those days.

Honey, light, delicious. Reminds me of an unseasonably warm Fall day, pleasant and crisp with clear skies.

Lost count after 7 infusions, but still kept going. Started with short 10-15 sec steeps and went progressively longer, sucking the life from this tea. Lovely sunset-orang-red liquor that remains long after the flavors have waned.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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511 tasting notes

I have found amazing green and white teas from Verdant, but I haven’t much enjoyed the black tea selection so far. This one is the best I have come across yet, but it’s far from stellar for me. There’s no nasty mushroom and no musky manliness going on in this one. It’s very smooth, almost oolong-like. I can recognize it’s quality and how it would appeal to others, but it’s not the tea for me.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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388 tasting notes

So very good, I took this hot and cold to work. I like it a lot and definitely can see why people talked about a sweet potato taste. Yum.

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