Golden Fleece

Tea type
Black Tea
Chinese Black Tea
Fennel, Rose, Cocoa, Earth, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Butter, Grapes, Hay, Medicinal, Sour, Almond, Graham Cracker, Green Wood, Apple, Chocolate, Graham, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Pumpkin, Anise, Bread, Caramel, Celery, Honey, Lemon, Lettuce, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Saffron, Vegetal, Wood, Yams, Orange Blossom, Sweet, Creamy, Spices, Mushrooms, Brown Sugar, Coffee, Meat, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Cinnamon, Smooth, Pastries, 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 / 317 ml

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247 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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247 Tasting Notes

3294 tasting notes

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 steepster for 29 days, so my “always” is relative to that) wished I could have had the honor. During this last month, I’ve ordered from Verdant ‘several’ times (obsessive compulsive & their tea is awesome), & on the most recent order David sent me this sample, with a hand-written label that said “Original Harvest Golden Fleece Sample – Just for fun!”

Today is a special day for me. I often joke around about 12 step programs & mysterious substances of my youth. Let’s just say that I was very wild & out of control, at one time, & I suppose you could say I was a connoisseur of sorts, at least in the realm of psychotropic & hallucinogenic substances. I’m not going to say it wasn’t fun, because I had a lot of awesome revelatory experiences, some amazing highs, but there were also lows, which I won’t go into here. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “The higher you rise, the farther you fall”.

Today I’m celebrating 29 years clean & serene!
No alcohol, no hallucinogens (believe me, I did enough of those to be able to slip in between realities at will for the rest of my life), no cigarettes, etc, & when you add in food allergies (no dairy, no sugar, no grains (no pastry…sigh…), etc it starts sounding like “No Fun”.
You could say my only vice, my ‘drug of choice’ is tea.
I was contemplating what tea to drink today, & when this sample arrived, I got tears in my eyes, LOL, & gave thanks to the Divine Universe, & to David.

I read the instructions on the website. To brew in the Gaiwan or the basket???? I couldn’t decide…So I asked the leaves, & then I went with a hybrid (I’m sure someone is laughing at this point).

Dry, I smell a mix of Tobacco & chocolate. The beautiful blond leaves brew into a deep golden honey cup! The flavor is rich & smooth, I think of dark chocolate, but it’s deeper, more earthy. I see an old growth forest, & there is a hint of spice. The 1st 3 steepings were done in my favorite cup with the finnum: 1 min, 2 min, & 3 minutes. There was a sweet undercurrent, which I identified in the 3rd cup as sweet potato. Also, my tongue & throat developed a satisfied sensation as if I’d eaten some really wonderful dark exotic 92% chocolate. The chocolate that isn’t really sweet. All of these steepings were full, dark, & rich!

At this point I switched to the gaiwan, so that I could keep steeping these leaves in a smaller amount of water. Now I’m getting a hint of banana bread pudding! I’ve gone through several steepings of this tea, & it is still flavorful, still caramel honey colored. Still tasty.

“Onward through the fog”


Ohhh you got some coveted golden fleece GO YOU!!! :)


Oh crap I meant to say HUGE congrats on 29 years!!! YAY!!!!

Terri HarpLady

Yeah! Thanks on both counts, Azz!

Autumn Hearth

Congrats! What a wonderful tea to celebrate with!

Donna A

One of my favorite teas. Like you, I really enjoy my blacks (and never knew it until I discovered the good loose ones recommended on Steepster). I started drinking tea partly to get away from Coke Zero. I second Azzrian on the congratulations for 29 years.


Congratulations Terry! Sounds like it was a great tea for a great day. :)


*Terri. I promise I can spell.


Congratulations, Terri! I love that you received this special little gift on such a special day.

Terri HarpLady

Thanks Nik! It was awesome!

Terri HarpLady

Thanks everyone! My life is awesome!I love this community!

Nathaniel Gruber

Love your “sweet potato” description! I was trying this one with David today and someone actually said the same thing. So funny that I ran across your review and you got the same thing – awesome!

Terri HarpLady

I just ordered a bunch more of it!!

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15131 tasting notes

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 as amazing to me as to others…right now? you are my life line. happy sigh

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2201 tasting notes

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 two ounces cost me a pretty penny. But I’m going to go for it now, and I’m going to steep it western style (following the instructions on Verdant’s site) because it’s somehow less stressful to me at this point.

The dry leaf is beautiful and smells like very fragrant sweet potato chips. I took a big whif and was like, woah! sweet potatoes! Someone came into my office moments after I poured the water on these leaves and asked if I could unlock a door for them, which put me in a panic because I only had a minute to play with. I had a moment of indecision: do I tell them to wait one minute until the steep is done, but the door is just around the corner and that would sound odd anyway. So I walked briskly and I arrived back at my office with 5 seconds to go! Whew.

The steeped tea has some of that sweet potato-y aroma, and maybe the slightest hint of vanilla and spices. First sip, after it’s cooled a bit: woah. woah. Sweet, like brown sugar on a baked sweet potato. Sooooo smooth. Just a luxurious, silky, creamy feel to it. With a little tingle in the aftertaste. In the first part of the sip its straight up sweet potato, one that’s been baked to perfection and still has those fresh notes. Then the brown sugar and spices come sliding in… I mean, not spices so much as the faint hint of allspice perhaps. The after taste is light, and more of a sensation than a taste, a light tingling that is really intriguing. Really an amazing Dian Hong, and if you are a fan of that varietal you owe it to yourself to get a bit of this tea. Can’t wait to gong fu this one and see its performance there!

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I see your hesitation. At $30/2 oz. I’d be afraid of messing it up too! I just might have to make a purchase too though…your tasting note has sold me, and I love Dian Hong!


The price tag of this scared me away…


So worth it! I’ve gone to a movie and spent money in 2 hours that is less satisfying and gone faster! $30 for this…it really is special! Some new tea’s are coming out…a White and a Pu-er.


I have a serious need to slash my tea budget unfortunately. Need to stay away from the fancy pants stuff until I drink more of what i already have. :-/


This sounds so awesome. But it really does put things into perspective when you start comparing the price to how much people would spend when going out to a movie and/or restaurant. Sounds like it would be money well spent here.


Yeah, I haven’t been buying new tea lately (or much of anything, actually!), so I didn’t feel so bad about dropping the money on the tea. There are certain teas that are just worth it.


Hey, no judgments here… :)

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368 tasting notes

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 different.

I actually got out a kitchen scale, weighed my gaiwan, and then weighed in David’s recommended gram of leaf per fluid ounce of the vessel.

Uncharacteristic of myself, I even gave the leaves a rinse so that I could ensure the first steeping I drank came off “awake” leaves.

The aroma off the wet leaves will leave you speechless. It is like that sensation you get when you walk into a humidor. I don’t mean the tea smells like cigars, although, to some extent I think perhaps it does, what I mean is that there is a particular physical sensation that goes beyond smell, when you walk into the damp, close, still, thickly scented air of a humidor. And smelling this tea leaf once wet, is like that.

With the first steep I understand what Geoffrey and David have been describing in terms of texture. Drinking this tea reminds me of the sensation one gets in the mouth after engaging in wuji qigong for the better part of an hour. There is at the same time a thickness of the mouth but your mouth is watering at the same time. I’ve now been typing, and taking a conference call, and haven’t sipped the tea for perhaps ten minutes and my sinuses are still registering all the aromas and tingling sensations and my mouth is still watering and thick.

I can actually feel the small heavenly circle flowing rapidly and if I were to stand up and correct my posture, I suspect the grand heavenly circle would open up almost immediately.

My ears are ringing.

I actually need to wait a few steeps to even begin using adjectives to describe the aromas off the leaf or the cup or the flavors from the liqueur. Neither my mouth nor my brain are entirely awake right now and I know that strictly speaking neither is this tea. So, expect a follow up later today with all kinds of pretentious wine tasting words in it.

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Your beginning leaves me on the edge of my seat anticipating more later! Great start! I would have been timid to tackle this one first. Bravo to you Jim!

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171 tasting notes

I’m feeling much better now. My cold is almost gone after a miserable 6 days. My house is clean, BoxerPapa isn’t much of a house keeper. The dogs and I went for a walk. I’m tired now though, so I’m going to watch a movie and see how many steeps I can get out of this lovely tea.
I get cravings for it, I’ve never tasted anything like it. It’s like a sweet potato casserole. Sweet and creamy with a hint of cinnamon. Today is a great day!

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Good to hear you’re feeling better


Glad to hear you are on the mend. This tea sounds amazing…enjoy!


Glad you are better, I always feel good when the housework is done and sit down with my tea.


Yay! Feeling better is great!

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59 tasting notes

I feel very lucky to have received this gift of tea. So lucky, I have not wanted to write about this tea. What can I say about it that has not been said? To speak would imply judgement, and how can I pass judgement over a gift such as this? I am happy to drink and learn.

I can say nothing but Thank You.

It’s a pleasure to meet you, Golden Fleece. I am thoroughly enjoying our time together.


Awe, I think that what you said is just perfect!


I second that! :)

Charles Thomas Draper

I love your review!

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58 tasting notes

I may have committed a crime against the tea gods, but I figured I should write about it because it was a good experience.

Last night I decided to use the last 4 grams of my sample of this amazing tea. It was late and I had homework but I had had a long day and needed to relax. I went through about 12 steepings, right around where it starts weakening, when my brother needed help with the computer. I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to squeeze the last drops out of this tea so I threw it in my teavana perfect brewer with some breakfast black and let it steep. I wasn’t expecting to notice anything about the Golden Fleece because I had already drained a lot of it’s flavor, and I use a pretty strong breakfast black brew. I was blown away by the first sip. It had the typical deep rich breakfast black flavor that it always has, but the Golden Fleece was coming through very strong. The first thing I noticed was it smoothed out both the flavor and the mouth feel of the tea. It didn’t have nearly as much “kick” as the breakfast black normally has. It also acted almost like a tea flavored sweetener. I could clearly taste brown sugar and cinnamon, which removed any bitterness that the breakfast black had before. It was the best cup of BB I have ever had. I almost want to go looking for an inexpensive, sweet, and smooth tea like golden fleece to throw a couple grams in the bottom of my breakfast blacks.

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470 tasting notes

Golden Fleece round 2, fight!

As I mentioned in my last note, I cold brewed my leaves from yesterday. I did 4 short steeps in my fish gaiwan so I knew there was more than enough flavor left in here for a cold brew! And I know some people must be thinking it’s crazy to cold brew leaves like this but let me tell you, I am a cold brew addict. I do it to almost every tea that crosses my path, and 90% of the time I prefer them that way! Teas can taste quite different with this brewing method and I tend to like the sweeter, softer notes that it brings out.

The liquid after a 12 hour steep is… well, it’s golden! My steeps last night were much darker, a murky brown even with super short steeps, but this time it’s a stunning color. Liquid gold!

And the flavor… oh my. Hello, Golden Fleece! It smells like fresh pastries, brioche buns hot out of the oven. I think I am finally seeing (well, tasting) what all the fuss was about! This is liquid honey, soft and floral (yes, floral, from a Dian Hong!), faint notes of citrus and malt. Orange blossom, and the end of the sip is almost custardy. This is Fabulous with a capitol F. I think I’m in love… which is unfortunate given how pricey this is and, you know, the fact that even if I could afford it, Golden Fleece is sold out!


Your description makes me swoon.


It’s coming back soon though….start saving your money!


When I’ve finished with my ‘special leaves’ I don’t throw them out either! Into a container of Spring Water they go for cold brewing. (I just finished some Earl of Anxi, yum!)


Did you see the note about Golden Fleece being shipped and on the way to Verdant?!


Oh noo! As happy as I am that it’s coming back, my wallet is crying silent tears


I have been saving my $10 off reward for its return if I can keep myself from getting more than a full ounce of this…ha


I have a $5 voucher at Verdant that I was going to use for the Laoshan Black Genmaicha, but now I’m torn! By the way, does the amount come off automatically or do you get a coupon code for it? It’s only been about 2 days since I redeemed my points but I haven’t gotten anything.


Coupon code…sent to email.

Terri HarpLady

Huh? I didn’t get one of those?

Terri HarpLady

See Alpha, I knew you’d come around! I haven’t tried it cold brewed…what’s your ration of tea to water?


I didn’t get my coupon code either! Maybe it takes a while.

@Terri: I am not very precise in my cold brewing, usually it’s about 4 grams to a glass, mine hold about 2 cups I think.

Terri HarpLady

That’s about what I did, using a pint jar. I’m gonna try a cold brewed Golden Fleece tonight!


Sometimes it takes a few days for someone at Verdant to email out the coupon code, so don’t worry!

Lily Duckler

Hi there!

@Alphakitty- Thanks for the great tasting notes! I’m now imagining a hot cup of Golden Fleece fighting a cold-brew jug, Mortal Combat style. :)

I just wanted to follow-up on the Reward Program coupon codes. These get e-mailed to the address associated with your Facebook account (I know for me, that’s an older account from college that I don’t check very often!), and sometimes get caught by spam filters. If you haven’t received it yet, just send me a PM and I’ll make sure it gets re-sent!

Take care,
Lily Duckler

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39 tasting notes

I feel like I shouldn’t even be talking about this tea. There’s really no telling whether we’re ever going to see it again. The Golden Fleece, true to name, has already developed a mythic eminence among those few who’ve had the opportunity to experience it. “Why?” is a question that recurs often. Why… this inexplicable privilege? And the apparent difficulty of obtaining even a small quantity of this stuff only intensified the pounding I felt in my heart at the prospect of parting with any of it. Truly, when we realized how little there was, the temptation to tell no one and keep this tea to ourselves was very strong. But David was adamant, and the best part of me completely agreed, that to not share this tea would do it dishonor.

It has been my good fortune and great pleasure to try many inspiring teas, but this Dian Hong, which we came to call the Golden Fleece, immediately stood apart as one of the finest things I’ve ever had the chance to drink. I’m sure this will all inevitably sound hyperbolic, and in any case, it is known that I’m nothing close to an unbiased source on these matters… But I just want to say, for whatever it’s worth, I’m writing this in earnest as an endeavor to draw out and unburden myself from the weight of the inspiration this tea has placed inside me. Apart from that, I can’t see any other gain in writing about a tea that we don’t have, and perhaps may never be able to obtain again. Whatever the case, I must speak… it can’t be helped.

A little back story. David first told me of this tea about a month and a half ago, while we were still hard at work getting the new Verdant website together. I was surprised to hear him emphatically going on about “the most exquisite Dian Hong I’ve ever seen”. It’s not common to hear David talk about black teas in this manner; most often he’s praising a Sheng Pu’er or a Dancong that has recently inspired him. I probably reach for the black teas far more often than he does, so this got my attention; but I was so busy at work on the website that I kind of had to forget about it.

Anyway, we finally got around to staying after work one Friday evening to relax and drink some teas, and he brought the sample of this Dian Hong out for us to try first. I remembered how he told me that the tea buds of this Dian Hong were extraordinarily beautiful. Indeed, on inspecting the plump buds closely I was struck by their beauty. Light shined off of them, glowing and golden, giving the appearance of something very precious. (Note: photos have yet to do them justice.) I observed closer and commented about how the downy filaments on the surface of these buds looked unreal, like I wasn’t even looking at tea, but rather was looking at the fleece of some enchanted mythical creature. Now, none of us really remember who said it first, but perhaps it’s most correct to say that the words appeared somewhere between the three people present at that drinking session. What we do know is that one of us then uttered the words “Golden Fleece”, at which point we all looked at each other and agreed that we couldn’t call this tea by any other name from that moment forward.

So then David brewed it. I took a good ten or fifteen seconds just to appreciate the aroma of it in my cup. As a serious fan of gourmet mushrooms, I melted in the sensation of this fragrance, which was like walking into a large room where a master chef was laboring to perfect the finest mushroom soup anyone had ever prepared. I gazed into the pure, liquid gold color of the liquor and imagined all the very best qualities of morel, chanterelle and truffle mushrooms synthesized to perfection. First sip… a moment of silence… then the only comment I could make…

“It’s not even fair.”

The texture of silk, a delicate effervescence, as if an exquisite sauce had been made from the very spirit of Yunnan and poured over that platter of incredible mushrooms. An incomparable tea. Only a few sips of this heady brew and I was tea drunk. The tail and aftertaste revealed a sweetness like vanilla and honey. These sweet things seem far away from the savory qualities described above, but somehow this tea manages to bridge, no… encompass the spectrum of all these flavors in a way that is completely integrated, and hard to comprehend. But how it works doesn’t need to be understood, because it works so magnificently. Further cups had me writing notes such as: feathery, lush, luxurious. And the spice of this tea, it’s like pepper, cinnamon and clove, but it doesn’t bite you – which I mean in the best way. The image that comes to mind is of a large and powerful enchanted creature (something like the forest spirit in Princess Mononoke) that has amazingly soft fur, and is completely at peace with letting you nuzzle and rest against it. That’s what this tea is like for me… an encounter with the forest spirit of Yunnan.

It’s only appropriate to know that all of this was wild-picked in Xishuangbanna. I asked David where Wang Yanxin could have possibly found such a tea, and he said she didn’t explain much about that first sample she sent us. She only sent this one Dian Hong and wrote on the label, “This is the one. Best Dian Hong. Taste slowly.” Indeed. There was no question in my mind about whether we should try to get more. Although, the possibility of sourcing this tea did raise some questions. We don’t do grades of tea; it just doesn’t fit into the curatorial rigor of our selection process and goal for the Verdant collection to carry more than one representative of a given tea, unless they’re expressing dramatically different things. We were already carrying another very good Dian Hong at an attractive price point, and it was popular. The Golden Fleece, because of its rarity, would have to be twice the price of our Yunnan Golden Buds. And at that point, we didn’t really know how much of the Golden Fleece we’d be able to acquire, much less how much was harvested to begin with.

After some careful deliberation, it was decided that the Golden Fleece was just so outstanding and unique that an exception could be made to source some quantity of it as a special limited offering alongside our other Dian Hong. The price and uncertain supply factors certainly made it out of the question for Golden Fleece to replace our other Dian Hong. And in any case, we found them distinct enough to exist side-by-side in a way that could be justified. So we ordered about ten pounds to be included in what was our next shipment at the time.

I vividly remember the day it arrived. I had more anticipation for Golden Fleece that just about anything else in the shipment. We were going through the box of sealed tea packages and pulled out all the ones that were labelled as wild-picked Yunnan budset tea. The red bags piled up in our office. We opened one of them to check, and in the first one found the Wild-Picked Yunnan Jin Jun Mei we ordered. Then we opened another bag and there was the Golden Fleece. The two Yunnan black teas were sent in the same colored bags with similar labels.

Anyway, I went home that night a bit drunk on the thought that we’d secured ten pounds of Golden Fleece. But then… The next morning I came to the office and David gave me the news. “I did a thorough inventory of the shipment last night, and it turns out that there’s only two pounds of Golden Fleece. The rest is the Jin Jun Mei.” Two pounds. That’s all we could get, and all that was available apparently. “Will we ever be able to get more?” I asked. David gave the answer I was most unprepared to hear, “Honestly, it’s impossible to say one way or another. When these two pounds are gone, we may never see this tea again.” It was at this point that the temptation to keep it all to ourselves had to be fought.

When you love something, and know how ephemeral your time with it is… that one day soon it will be gone… that it may never come back… and you’ll only be left with a memory to treasure… perhaps a pang of nostalgia… Well, let’s just say that it took some strength to come to grips with the situation, and accept the circumstances as they were. Ultimately, David made the point, which I already knew deep inside of me, that we should be grateful to have had the privilege to taste such a tea even one time – and not take that for granted.

That week we had scheduled a tea tasting for about sixteen guests at our office, and we had raised some anticipation for these attendees to try the Golden Fleece and purchase some if they wished to. It was before we understood how little supply we had. The day before that tasting, we were due to make the Golden Fleece available for purchase on the website, and I had to lobby with David for setting aside an appropriate amount of the tea to be available for our local guests. After that was done, we put Golden Fleece on the website with the limit of a two ounce maximum quantity per person and watched it sell out in a few hours. The most limited-edition tea we’ve ever carried.

As expected, the Golden Fleece we set aside for our local tasting was nearly cleaned out by the end of the night. I like to remember how, when we brewed it for everyone, a good friend of ours was at the end of the table and I only had about half a sip left in the serving pitcher to pour for him on the first round. He was still grateful, and appreciated what he had before him with no less care. This particular friend is a flavor aficionado, with highly developed taste from many years of developing an amazing talent for cooking, as well as from taste training in fine wines. The look on his face when he took that little sip for the first time… how to describe it? He ruffled his brow in a kind of quiet shock and consternation mixed with obvious signs of deep pleasure. He turned his face to me, wide-eyed, and whispered, “…the texture …this is wrong.” To which I replied, “Like I said… it’s not even fair.” He nodded, quietly repeating the words to himself.

I’ve now had four sessions with this tea, always preparing it gongfu style in a gaiwan. It blows me away every time, and what further bewilders me is that none of us have yet managed to exhaust all the flavor from the buds. I’ve steeped it out over twenty times in a given session and it just keeps going, even into the next day. We always get waterlogged long before we’re able to make the buds reach their limit… if they have a limit at all. My mother picked up some of this at our tasting, and she told me that she recently re-steeped it many times over for three days. The further I go into a session with this tea, the more its headiness gets to me; and in my tea-drunk musings I start to imagine that I’ll never reach the end of it… because it really may just be some enchanted mythic thing that always keeps one of its feet firmly planted in eternity.

There has been rumor from Wang Yanxin that we may be able to secure more of the Golden Fleece. But after all that’s happened, I’m not sure I’m going to really believe it until I see it. At any rate… if by some grace it does become available again, I can only suggest that you try some while you can – and taste slowly.


wow…such a spell binding review, cascading words that make me dream to even dwell on the idea of being inside the circle of those who have sipped from the edge of this cup…the formation of a regret that I was not able to hear even a single whisper of this tea from David or anyone, being that I’m such a Yunnan enthusiast and to dub it with the mythical reverence makes me even more captured by the elusive slyph…if only to have been able to draft a mote from such a cup…thank you for the seed of imagination and if this should ever grace the shore again, please keep me in the loop…

Joshua Smith

This is #1 on my list right now, especially given my recent fixation on black teas. Thanks for the substantive review, even if it made me green with envy.


Your review was so sensual and lovely that if I were a young woman and rich I would have invited you to run away to find that Golden Fleece! I mean this is the best of ways like reading a great story should make you feel. I hope I get to have an experience tasting such a remarkable tea before I die. If I do, it will probably come from Verdant.


What steeping parameters did you use, with the gaiwan? I don’t want to waste a single steep of mine – I keep waiting for the perfect occasion to bring it out, but it hasn’t presented itself quite yet.


@smartkitty – For this tea, in a given session I would use enough buds to fill the gaiwan to about 1/3 to 1/2 of it’s capacity (or by weight, approximately 1 gram of tea per 1 ounce of the gaiwan’s fluid capacity). I always eyeball it with these bulky budset teas, and find that about 1/3-full of a gaiwan is a reliably conservative measure for success with them. Try that and then adjust for your own taste as needed. I suggest using the best water available, which for me just means brita filtered tap. If you filter, make sure the filter is fresh and not an old spent filter. Fully boiled the water, reheating the kettle after every few steeps as needed when drinking many steeps continuously. I do an immediate first “rinse” on every tea I drink, for ritual sake, and to warm all the tea vessels, but it wouldn’t be necessary from a strictly flavor-oriented standpoint to do so. First three infusions, steep for only a few seconds (like counting 1-2-3 with my fingers). From then on I steep each infusion with an additional 3-5 seconds. Really, I do most of this intuitively though, based on what I’m tasting – the counts are just a general guideline for how it usually goes. So by the time I’m on, say, infusion #8 I’m steeping for about 25-30 seconds. The further out you go, the longer the time you might want to add to each infusion. After maybe 15 infusions I might start adding whole minutes to the steep time. And this one will keep going long after that. Like I said, I haven’t found the end of it. You can leave leave this tea and return to it the next day, and it will be in the same place waiting just where you left it, delicious and amazing. When refreshing a tea from this kind of break period, I make sure to boil up a fresh batch of water and then re-fresh the leaves with one immediate rinse before proceeding to steep again where I left off. That pretty much sums up how I brew this one.

How fortunate that you were able to acquire some in the brief window of its availability. I do hope that this perfect occasion emerges for you soon, and that you find it as inspiring as we have. When you find yourself in a quiet and receptive state of mind, and have a window of unhurried time, just make some space to sit down with it in undivided attention. I really think that will make the most difference.

And for all this is good in this world, I hope that we’re given the honor to offer this tea again – even if only a little more… as it’s clear from the responses here that we have number of people with a sufficient interest and reverence to give it that kind of undivided attention I mention.

Thank you all for the kind comments. It’s always fulfilling to know when someone has appreciated the words I’ve searched and worked for in trying to convey a suggestion of the experiences that have inspired me. Happy drinking to all! And mark my words, if the Golden Fleece comes into our hands again, I will personally make sure that each of you are among the first to hear of it.

Charles Thomas Draper

Thanks for the tease. Save me some when you get more please. Thank you


i received this today
after reading this all i want is to drink it right now but…
i decided to save it for a special day, and sharing it with friends.
this was my first order from vd and i felt so lucky to acquire this tea…

@Geoffrey thank’s for the helpful brewing instruction.


Thank you so much for the tips, Geoffrey :) I feel so exceptionally lucky to have some of this tea at home. I can’t stop opening the bag to inhale the wonderful aroma.


k. I broke down and ordered this. After your romantic review, I couldn’t resist. Oolong is my weakness and I couldn’t bare to miss out on such a fantastic opportunity. I have so many excellent oolongs right now, there is no way I can justify this, but…


I posted a weak review. I don’t think anyone will ever be able to touch yours! So remarkable that this became available!


@Bob – Honestly, oolong is my biggest weakness too, strip style oolongs especially. I’m such a sucker for them. Every time we taste strip oolong samples at the office I’m in danger of going broke. It just happened again recently with a certain Shui Xian we tried that I just had to have in my private collection. It’s less often that a black teas makes such a big impression on me, but this Dian Hong and the Laoshan Black totally floor me. I’m really glad we were able to get more so that a good number of people could try it. I hope you love it as much as we have!

@ Bonnie – Aww, shucks. It’s not a contest you know. I enjoy everything you write. You’ve got a really great style of talking about things, marked with “what’s coming next” surprise, and you notice stuff that I don’t catch sometimes. It’s a joy to read your notes. Thanks again for the kind words though.

Jim Marks

The good news is that dian hong isn’t oolong! :-)

Thomas Smith

Just watched Princess Mononoke so I finally get the reference you popped in there.


This tea frightens me, all of the reviews are so intense.


Don’t be afraid of this tea, we just get carried away by our tastebuds! I should write a review that says this is yummy, tastes great and you can keep steeping it and it will still taste really great!


I ordered it today. Along with a chai blend and an oolong. Now the wait begins.


You are wonder woman! I just ordered some more from them too!


I have to try it. And with that coupon, I couldn’t pass it up. :)


i would weep if it were discontinued… while at the same be grateful for the privilege of the experience.

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863 tasting notes

I FINALLY (after like 2+ years on here) got a gaiwan! I was making a Butiki order and they had a spouted one (the safest choice for my clumsy self) so I sprung for it. It is absolutely perfect for me – I love that it’s stoneware instead of porcelain and I love the way it pours, and that it is about 4 oz. Now I can finally do some gongfu and really get the most out of my leaves!

Verdant’s teas are all perfect for gaiwans, so I decided to start with Golden Fleece since I haven’t had it in a while. I was weighing out the leaves (per Verdant’s instructions, so 4 grams) and really, just holding it in your hands is a sensory experience in itself. They are so soft and feathery/fuzzy, and also super fragile looking. I want to keep them long and spindly so I’m fighting the urge to handle them too much.

1st steep= maybe 10 seconds? The predominant smell of the steeped leaves is peppery and kind of burnt – like very crispy potatoes. It was super hot so at first I didn’t get much taste. Just that smooth silky texture on my tongue. There was a pepper note after I swallowed and as the cup cooled down I could pick up honey and pepper together. Sweet and savory and silky. This steep seemed kind of delicate and light in flavor.

2nd steep = 15 seconds. The leaf smells sweeter now – honey, vanilla, cinnamon. The tea is darker, but still as smooth. This is mostly sweet – all honey but there is an umami-like bite at the end of the sip. Now that I’ve thought about it as umami, all I can think is that the liquor itself smells brothy. It’s as if somehow this manages to do everything at the same time – the only thing that changes is what flavor you choose to pay attention to.

3rd steep = 25 seconds. The leaf is back to smelling like potatoes and the taste is all umami + pepper. There is quite a bite at the end of these sips! I am starting to specifically identify the broad “umami” taste as more mushroom. Well, wait – the liquor smells like vanilla and honey, now. And tastes like it too, since its cooled.

4th steep = 45 seconds. Now it tastes like potatoes. Starchy but still amazingly smooth. This has plenty of flavor left in it but I think I’ll give it a rest for right now. Yay for gaiwans! I can’t wait to put these leaves through all of their paces!

I didn’t rate this numerically the first time I had it, but I feel like since I’ve tried it both ways I can do so now. Unsurprisingly it’s going to be pretty high. A very yummy Yunnan, for sure!

Mark B

Curious to see which Gaiwan you got. Is it their green one with the spout listed first in the Gaiwan section?

I’m partial to glass, but I have a cool blue glazed one from Wing Hop Fung.


That’s the one! I love it. I like the idea of glass but it seems so fragile. The stoneware seems to be a little bit more able to hold up to my clumsiness so far.

Your gaiwan is beautiful. I love the blue and the speckles. Reminds me almost of lily pads on a pond!

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