Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Verdant Tea's Golden Fleece Black Tea

Verdant's Description
Golden Fleece gets it's name to honor the soft, rich texture experience of tasting this incredible small-harvest tea. Golden Fleece is hand-picked from wild growth Yunnan Da Bai (Camellia taliensis) tea bushes over forty years old. The biodiversity of the growing region and deeper roots means a more complex flavor and aroma. Only the large tender buds are harvested. The down from the buds infuses into every cup, yielding a uniquely thick mouthfeel.

My thoughts
My second order from Verdant just got in yesterday. The wait between when you order tea and when it gets to your door is always the worst, especially when there are a couple teas that you know you'll enjoy in that box. This was one of those teas for me. I love Chinese black teas, especially the golden needle/golden bud varieties. This tea is sourced by Wang Yanxin and sold through Verdant. Their website says that this tea was grown in Lincang region in Yunnan, but the bag itself claims it is from Qingdao in Shandong province, so I'm not exactly sure where this tea actually comes from.

Dry leaves - The fuzzy leaves range from a bright sunny yellow to a dark rich gold, with a few dark tips thrown in for variety. The aroma has a very light floral/wheat/potato scent with just a touch of malt. Completely different than what I was expecting. Any thoughts I still had that this would be a typical golden needle black tea just went flying right out the window.

Brewing parameters - 200F,5s first, +3s after.

Tasting notes - Smooth, brown sugar, rose, saffron, graham cracker, sweet potato, banana, malt, honey

Yeah, this is most certainly not your normal golden needle. The first sip is quite unlike anything I've ever had before, with an incredibly silky, sweet florality of rose and brown sugar are right at the forefront. I was so enthralled by the amazing start that I nearly missed the rest of the sip. Mild sweet potato, sweet graham cracker, creamy banana, spicy saffron...this tea is really something special. It's not just a unique black tea, I've truly never had anything quite like this one before.

Steeps 2 and 3 are even sweeter than the first. The flavor profile has shifted somewhat, favoring the graham cracker and sweet potato elements now. I can detect hints of vanilla and malt towards the end of the sip now as well, and it finishes with a nice lingering honey sweetness.

Steeps 4 and 5 are beginning to look more like a black tea now. Flavors have shifted again to favor the sweet potato, malt and honey. I'm still not getting any cocoa at all, which I kind of expected from the start with this being from China. There is still just a twinge of that rose aroma right at the start of the sip, but it quickly disappears in the silky, mellow bliss that follows. I actually went to a total of 9 steeps with this tea, but after #5 it didn't really change much.

This is a tea you almost need to experience in a vacuum to really enjoy to its fullest. It is certainly one of the most subtle and nuanced black teas I've ever tried, and I'll likely need to do a few more brewing sessions to really get the full effect of what these leaves have to offer.

Being that this is a very small harvest wild-grown tea, I imagine that supplies are quite limited. Do yourself a favor, go to Verdant's site, and buy some of this tea right now before it's gone.

You can buy this extraordinary tea from Verdant here: http://verdanttea.com/teas/golden-fleece/

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