155 Tasting Notes

86

Clear and colorless, this tea has a dusty aroma. There is a lot of flavor for such a colorless tea, particularly in the finish. The taste is light and floral, with a viscous feel in the mouth. It is unlike any other tea I have drunk.

I’ve begun what may be an annual event: I’m trying to have one cup of every tea that I own. I do this in part to avoid spending money on tea, but also to remind myself of some teas that I’ve lost track of in one of my tea boxes. This is such a tea; it is unique, and I am really enjoying it, but haven’t had any for months.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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89
drank Nahan 2014 by Tea Urchin
155 tasting notes

I was a bit nervous drinking such a young sheng as I prefer a tea that isn’t too powerful. The initial two steeps surprised me by being mild and subtle, though with a strong, silky feel in the mouth. There was also a very strong cha qi

The dry leaves were very dark, almost black. Yet the tea was a light straw color. After a few steeps I noticed that the wet leaves are now green.

The power only became apparent later, as the 4th and 5th steeps were very strong and woody. I wound up shortening my steeps, which produced a very approachable tea. The dominant flavor is still wood, but it isn’t overpowering. By the 8th steep, the cha qi and taste are both still quite strong. Wood isn’t my favorite flavor, but this tea is otherwise very much to my taste: it was smooth and flavorful, with reasonable complexity. I suspect it might age well, given the power, but I can’t really predict that.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C

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80

I have found this tea to be a bit of a chameleon. I’ve had 5 sessions, or something like 50 small cups, yet when I review my notes they vary tremendously. My current session is has been very woody and smoky, but in prior sessions I have notes of fruit and in others bitterness. One theme is that I’ve enjoyed the steeps at higher temperatures, which seems to bring out the fruit without adding bitterness.

One consistent theme has been a certain amount of coarseness. This is not a delicate or smooth tea, although it does become softer after half a dozen steeps. There is quite a bit of astringency. Also, although various sessions have varied flavors, any given cup is relatively straightforward. This would be a decent everyday sheng, but I didn’t find it to be special.

Thanks to the friend who shared the tea with me.

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drank Yiwu 2006 Shun Shi by Tea Urchin
155 tasting notes

This is a very interesting pu. The first steep smells like a shu, but has the amber color of a sheng. The taste is a mix of shu and woody sheng. I’m not a big shu fan, but this is pretty good. The second steep has: less shu flavor; lots of smokiness. Powerful woody flavor. Smooth but very powerful. 4th steep: Moving back towards shu, but balanced on the edge with an aged sheng character as well.

The Tea Urchin web site says that this tea was stored as maocha for 5 years, the pressed and aged, which accounts for the shu flavors. I’m not going to give a numerical rating because I haven’t been enjoying shu lately and this tea leans in that direction, even though the Tea Urchin lists it as a sheng. I suspect that someone who enjoys shu might find this very interesting. I probably wouldn’t buy more, but I’m glad I bought the sample.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C
mrmopar

Very earthy in my tastes as well.

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87
drank Man Sa 2011 Spring by Tea Urchin
155 tasting notes

This tea is apparently no longer available, so I couldn’t post the description or photo from the web site.

Drinking this tea is a bit like taking a long journey. The trip starts out gently, with a mild floral taste, but then becomes woody and astringent (though not at all bitter). Around the 6th steep, a hint of cooked vegetables (peas) appears briefly, but the tea then becomes gentler, with a smooth straw/hay flavor.

I enjoyed all the various tastes, though the first was probably my favorite. I’m still enjoying it, though it’s running out of steam (at the point where my 3 gram sample has produced about 20-25 ounces of tea). My rating is a blend of all the different flavors: the best cup was probably a 91, and the worst about an 85.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C
Cheri

Sounds delicious. Too bad it’s not available anymore.

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88

I really like four seasons of Spring Ooolong. it isn’t as complex as some of the finer mountain teas, but it is reliable and a good value for the price. The Green Terrace version is very good: buttery with hints of veggies and spice. A great everyday tea. I’m a bit relieved, as I loaded up on 150 grams during their sale last Summer.

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81

This tea was somewhat disappointing. First, the “Silver buds” name is largely marketing. There are certainly buds, but not a high percentage (though that may be due to the luck of the sample). It may just be that my palate is not refined enough, but I don’t detect the brown sugar, honey, etc. in the description. I just taste a somewhat bitter wood, with a hint of anise that comes and goes. There is nothing bad about the tea, but it just doesn’t appeal to me.

I won’t pretend to judge the ability of this tea to age, but for everyday drinking, I found it rather ordinary.

I tend to prefer lighter, more elegant sheng, so it is possible that someone who likes more powerful teas would find this to their liking. I steeped at 200 degrees, then tried a session at 185, with similar results.

DigniTea

Sorry to hear that. I’ve not tried this one but generally I’m a big fan of TU products – always found them to be high-grade leaf and quite flavorful.

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86
drank White Coconut Creme by Art of Tea
155 tasting notes

I’m going through my cupboard and am embarrassed that I still haven’t reviewed many of my favorite teas. This is one of several white tea blends by Art of Tea that I really like. Partly, I enjoy their base tea, but also the blends are really well done.

This one is colorful, with bits of red, white, orange and blue among the tea leaves. Powerful aroma reminds me of the summer rain tea, but with coconut as well. Rich taste with lots of coconut flavor. Really good. Not at all toasted, like some other coconut teas. The coconut extends well into the finish, which is light.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec
gmathis

I like colorful confetti teas. Like drinking a party :)

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81

This is a fairly straightforward tea. Medium bodied, the light flavor is mostly wood, with hints of smoke. Not at all bitter. Solid, but not special; a good everyday tea.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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93

Most young sheng is coarse and powerful. This one is elegant. I have trouble calling out specific flavors because the flavors are so well integrated, but straw and wood are obvious, with hints of flowers early and black pepper and anise in later steeps.

There is a lot of cha qi, so I’m getting very relaxed. The first two steeps had very little astringency or acidity, and no bitterness. Later steeps have some acid and astringency, but still only a hint of bitterness. The finish is excellent, and much of the complexity comes via the interaction of the finish with the aroma and taste.

I really like this tea. I have no idea how it will age, but it is really great for drinking right now. I got it as part of the recent Tea Urchin Sampler set.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Profile

Bio

Retired engineer/physicist.
My ratings will usually be based on multiple tastings. Oolong teas are generally 3 grams of tea in 6 oz water for 1 minute. Black teas are 1.5 grams of tea in 6 oz water for 3-4 minutes. Pu-erh is 3 grams in 3 oz, generally 20, 20, 30, 40, 60 sec.

My numerical ratings are all based on how much enjoyment I took from the tea. Since I prefer blacks and oolongs, they will receive higher scores. I also give a couple of extra points to decafs, just because I can drink them in the evening without staying up half the night. I don’t dislike flavored teas, but find that they lack the complexity of finer teas.

90-100 = superior, worth a high price
80-89 = Excellent. Will buy again
70-79 = Good tea, but probably won’t buy
60-69 = Nothing really wrong, but…
Below 60 = Wouldn’t drink again

Location

Massachusetts

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