The oxymoron in the title of this post notwithstanding, I did have a terrific early morning adventure to Royal Oak’s Goldfish Tea on Saturday. I’d been to Goldfish once before in the afternoon and it had been a much more hectic day and there’d been no opportunity to really talk to the staff. I wanted to remedy that. Naturally I love Ann Arbor’s TeaHaus, and have supported them financially with my addiction since the beginning–they really do have some of the most amazing teas to be got in the Midwest. Yet, after my second trip to Goldfish I can assure you in no uncertain terms, that it is far and above the premier tea shop in Michigan. Obviously the opinion of one critic on the matter is hardly the sort of thing scripture is made of. Having spent almost ten years on Google, Facebook and Yelp seeking out every tea shop, house and vendor within arms’ reach, as well as having sampled some thoroughly upper crust unaffordable ones in Japan and Canada (my goal in life is to do much more of that in other parts of Asia), I am pretty much content to just keep going back to Goldfish until a new shop opens in my state. It’s that good. Allow me to explain why.
This beautiful device would have been enough to make me fall down on my knees and cry (if I wasn’t in public in a posh city). I don’t know how they fashioned this, but Goldfish has utterly won me with it. Here are some shots of other amazing Goldfish discoveries:
You get the picture. Goldfish induces much drooling and expressions rarely seen without orgasm. But what’s the tea like?! I’m glad I made you ask. In a word: bountiful. The in-house tea menu is enormous, separated into three columns in order of fineness: Select, Choice and Premium (which is a little confusing since they’re all synonyms). The menu is then further broken down into Black, Green, Oolong, White and Pu-erh (there’s a small selection of herbal as well). Additionally, there’s coffee to be had and some fun munchies, but the most exciting non-tea item on the menu to me was… also tea. That is is to say, Bubble Tea. And yes, Goldfish Bubble Tea is easily worth $5. They also retail their loose leaf tea (Kyaa~ You’ve stolen my heart!). Hanging about the shop are a vast number of sealed bags of 50-100 grams of tea, ranging in price from ~$8 to ~16 by virtue of fineness and quantity. I bought several the last time I went, but for this trip I was fairly poor and spent all my money on yet another incredible discovery: single serving loose leaf bags. A $1.25 each… Home run; they’re out of the park.
The tea I ordered to drink in-house was Goldfish’s 2003 burnt “Golden Sail” Beencha. It’s frickin amazing yo. It’s mossy and dirty as hell, with zero sweetness. It probably isn’t, but it tastes organic from what must be an old twiggy grove. Golden Sail has a full grit texture with a flavorful rounded burnt taste. A traditional Pu-erh, but one to be savored.
As you can tell from the picture, it’s nothing so much as mud. The smell of the spent leaves is quite wonderful. The aftertaste is completely absent, though the feel of tea grit remains on your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Sitting and doing nothing but smelling and sipping Pu-erh is a kind of meditation… Though the quiet tea shop with a constant stream of Bebop Jazz definitely helps. I really just need a warm stone massage and i’d be purring.
In terms of their Bubble Tea, as I said I wasn’t disappointed. I ordered the Thai Tea with coconut milk and passion fruit jellies. I didn’t realize I was ordering it with jellies but it worked well. I was given like two handfuls of jellies and it took forever to eat them after the fact which is why i almost never order it that way. Anyway. Very sweet and creamy this was a weaker Thai Tea than you’d expect, but it was oh so drinkable. Definitely one of the richest teas i’ve ever tasted; it’s hard not to drink too fast. The jellies pop very easily in your mouth, creating a neat mixture and totally variant aftertaste. Willie Wonka eat your heart out.
Finally, to review one of Goldfish Tea’s take-home loose leaf teas, I brewed one just this morning to try and wake up. Golden Eyebrows. For those of you in the know about such silly things, no, it’s not related to Chun Mee. It is however, one of Goldfish’s three incredible (there are probably more) Golden Tip Yunnans. The other two were Yunnan Gold and Pure Gold: i smelled both and all three were definitely enticing, but i think Golden Eyebrows holds the top spot. Unbrewed, the best way to describe Golden Eyebrows is “powdery”, as if the tea had been chipped off a tea wheel (but it wasn’t). When i was brewing it just now I actually licked the tea scoop if that tells you anything about how awesome this one is. In aroma Eyebrows is a delicate-to-tinged flowery black. Textured smooth if dirty, this Yunnan has less intensity, with all the intrinsic flavor you’d expect from a fine Chinese tea. You could say the taste conjures up the feeling of digging through an ancient Chinese library. ;} If not for the caffeine and “Tippy”ness (a kind of euphoric Yunnan sleeping potion that’s difficult to describe, but suffice it to say you don’t want to have too many cups of the stuff) I would want to just keep drinking this all day long. Addendum: I did keep drinking it all day long.