Tea Urchin

Recent Tasting Notes

I believe this is my first experience with a Baotang tea. The quality of the material used in this cake is excellent. Baotang is a village in Mengsong township, Menghai. Apparently, in Baotang the trees are large & ancient, growing in biodiverse, organic gardens. Beautiful leaves produce a bright and clear gold tea soup with a crisp vegetal aroma and taste. Pleasant but not impressive at this point. Very soon the leaves open up and begin to produce a much more interesting cup of tea – increasingly thick in the mouth with a nice bitterness that turns into a pleasant lingering sweetness. Moving through five quick steepings, the cups become increasingly mellow and smooth. I was left with a lingering mouthfeel and a good mellow feeling. I like this tea!
Update: Seems to be enjoyable for 6 steepings and after that it fades.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 85 ML
Stephanie

Sounds good to me :D

tea123

I’ve heard a mention of biodoverse before. I’m thinking of buying that one soon.

AllanK

I had a sample of a Tea Urchin tea recently and I thought it excellent. This sounds good too.

DigniTea

I find that I can always count on TU for hi quality productions because they are able to source very fine raw material. I am a big fan.

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drank Nahan 2014 by Tea Urchin
1030 tasting notes

Thanks for the sample Marzipan!

I really enjoyed drinking this tea all day at work. It is definitely my kind of young sheng. Bold, punchy, strong cha qi and nice pleasant bitterness to sweetness balance. Creamy and floral too. The only thing that would have made it more perfect is if it had some fruity notes and a little bit more sweetness. I enjoyed the heck out of it though and would happily drink it again some day!

I had a crazy busy day at work and I’m serious, the tea definitely helped me! I get like a calm energy from sheng sometimes that is super perfect for stressful days at work where I need to be energized but not jittery or overwhelmed. Very centering/balancing :)

DigniTea

This cake is made from high quality material and was probably produced with hope for aging potential. Even as you describe your experience with the tea, it speaks of promise and will likely be a great tea one day. Meanwhile, it sounds as though you had a very interesting session with it. I have a sample myself but I’ll wait 6 months or so before I try it.

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drank Yiwu 2006 Shun Shi by Tea Urchin
1030 tasting notes

I may have reviewed this tea before under a slightly different name. I’m a little confused about it!

ANYWAY a sample of this tea was part of my Christmas gift from Marzipan

Stephanie

Steepster appears to have mangled this one. Alas!

Sil

mangled?

Stephanie

Yeah my note is incomplete…steepster ate a big hunk out of the middle

Sil

OH haha well it doesn’t look mangled at least..

looseTman

Did you share this issue with Jason?

cookies

I had the same issue. I posted about it in the Steepster Bug Thread.

Stephanie

This is the 3rd or 4th note I’ve had this happen to. I’ll email him later when I have time. Thanks guys!

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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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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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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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84

Another delicious and complex young sheng from TeaUrchin! Lots of floral notes, a little fruit in later steeps…I like Yiwu sheng :D

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98

One of those teas that instantly knocks your socks off and I wasn’t wearing any to begin with. Used a thin walled gaiwan, rinse and 10 minute stroll to feed the birds then steeps of 30/30/30/30/40/40/40/50/50/60/60/70/70/90/115/130/145/160 and so on. Liquor was thick pouring and on the tongue, with flavors starting out floral and then turning sweet. Not a trace of astringency, a slight bitterness but you have to be paying attention. The spent large leaves are all whole and uniform and as I looked in my strainer not a piece of broken leaf to be found. A most amazing tea, will be buying the whole cake next time.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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Ooooooh! Another sample from my Tea Urchin gift from Marzipan :D

I’ve never had a sheng quite like this one before. It reminds me of Silver Needle white, sort of hay like and a little sweet, with a floral shengy vibe, and mousse-like creaminess! I keep thinking of it as flower custard :D

YUM!

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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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90

Above standard raw puerh, has a soft dry sweetness with all the prerequisite flavors of hay, pine nut, kelp. Hui gan much in present with a solidness on the tongue and that seeping of sweet coming off the parotids. Used a gaiwan one rinse and a rest then steeps of 20/25/30/35/35/35/40/40/40/45/45 after that it became a blur, as I needed to do some chores around the house since the cha qi was coming on strong. The spent leaves were all uniform and quite green with flecks of brown.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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86

This tea starts out with a light straw flavor with hints of spice, then gradually shifts to a more woody taste. Each steep is elegant and balanced, with some astringency but hardly any bitterness.

I’ve had the tea twice. In my notes from the first session, at 190 degrees, I raved about the cha qi. In the second session, at 200 degrees, my tasting notes were similar with respect to flavors, but I noticed only moderate cha qi. I’m not sure if this is due to the temperature or just my mental state at the time of the tasting.

I enjoyed this tea, but it didn’t excite me the way some teas do. At the price, I’m not sure it offers good value, though it seems that you really have to pay for Yiwu tea these days.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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drank Lang He 2010 Yu pin by Tea Urchin
1030 tasting notes

I got a Christmas present in the mail today from Marzipan! She got me a bunch of TeaUrchin Samples! SQUEE!

Stephanie

WTF Steepster ate…half my tasting note? sigh I wonder if anyone else can’t read past the "

Anlina

“I got a Christmas present in the mail today from Marzipan! She got me a bunch of TeaUrchin Samples! SQUEE!

Anlina

Oh crap, it broke my comment too. Anyway your tasting note stops displaying after the less than three heart. Less than signs sometimes, randomly break comments, tasting notes and forum posts. I’ve emailed Jason about it, but it’s really random. If you edit and save your note again, it may work.

Cheri

There’s a ?

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92

Like going from a steely Chablis to a refined Montrachet. Soft smooth buttery, lots of oak but there is one thing that Montrachet doesn’t have. Sweetness from the very 1st steep. I’ve never experienced this before probably cause I’ve never had a raw pu erh this old. It also has a gentle smoke, no astringency, and lasted forever. Used 7.5 gm in 100 ml gaiwan. I was all over the map with the steeps though, settling on 30 seconds to give a nice golden clear soup. This was added to my order as a sample from Tea Urchin and I thank them tremendously.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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drank 2012 Yi Bang Spring by Tea Urchin
1030 tasting notes

Having some really delicious sheng today while cleaning and prepping the house for thanksgiving. We are cooking for 11 people tonight! My husband is smoking a turkey, and we are making spicy collards, maple roasted Brussels sprouts, and dinner rolls. Oh and I made apple pie! My MIL is bringing scalloped corn and a pumpkin cake, and my mom is bringing fancy baked mashed potatoes with cream cheese in them (around here we call them party potatoes!)

Anyway I’m very thankful for all my wonderful steepster friends. Hope you all have a safe and warm holiday and tummies full of delicious food and of course TEA!

Tealizzy

Yum! Sounds like an amazing feast!

yyz

Sounds fabulous, have fun and have a great Thanksgiving!

Fjellrev

OMG smoked turkey. I really miss it! Sounds like a scrumptious meal.

boychik

Hope you are having a wonderful time with your family!

Terri HarpLady

My Son in Law smoked a Turkey today. I’m not a big turkey fan, but it was delicious!

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97

Just blissing out to some of the best Sheng on the planet and listening to some of my favorite music from 2014: Hiss Golden Messenger, Cloud Nothings, Alvvays, Mastersons, War on Drugs, Real Estate, Popstrangers, Future Islands, First-aid Kit, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Against Me and on and on.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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97

As I ascend into the rarefied air of truly upper echelon shengs, I marvel at the power of the ancient wild tea leaf to concentrate such a variety of flavors (citrus, teak wood, soy, vanilla) and to release such a transforming energy that, in one sip, swept away the cold, rainy Monday morning and replaced it with my own little tea Utopia. This tea should come with a warning: do not attempt to operate a computer or motorized vehicle after drinking this tea. Do not shop for this tea under the influence; hundreds of dollars will disappear as you stockpile the 2013 version of this tea. It’s worse than going to whole foods when you’re starving.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML
boychik

Wow, this tea sound amazing. i should drink it before going to bed ;)))

Doug F

I swear I lost an hour bound up in a tea euphoria.

mrmopar

They have some outstanding teas for sure.

TeaBrat

Looks like they are sold out of it!

Doug F

Yes, you would have to go with the 2013, which sounds equally as good.

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Breaking this one out after the "Chairman"was a bit indecisive tonight. I received this courtesy of a tea friend to try. I read the vendors note and am fairly excited to try this one.
The sample I was sent had 7 grams so I brought out the Gaiwan on this one. I am trying to season a new Yixing and I was afraid it would soak up a lot of this teas character. The dry leaf has a pleasant fruity and flowery aroma to it. I gave it a quick rinse and then steeped it. a 5 second or so steep done 3 times and into a 10 oz. mug. This tea pits up a sharpness quality to it. A good mix of the bitter and sweet and a nice little tingle to it. To be a young sheng it really doesn’t carry the astringent quality of many young teas but it has a good strength to it. The sharpness from earlier in the note is how quick those notes arrive in the cup. Some teas take a while to “put it on you”, but this is a straight to the point one.
I am enjoying this pretty well but only one cup tonight as the day starts early tomorrow and I don’t want this to interfere with me counting sheep tonight.
Getting a little brown sugar and/or caramel notes as it cools a bit.

Flavors: Bitter, Caramel, Floral, Fruity, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 10 OZ / 295 ML
KittyLovesTea

Oooohhhh this one sounds delightful!

mrmopar

Wish I could afford a cake of this…

DarkStar

Thanks for your notes mrmopar. I have been wanting to try Tea Urchin’s puerh for some time now (well over a year), but always got distracted by other vendors for some reason. Your posting has reminded me that I really need to get some samples from Tea Urchin. Their Guafengzhai 2012 in particular is really tempting me…thanks again.

mrmopar

I like like like this one DarkStar. Very nicely done tea for sure.

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drank Xikong 2012 Autumn by Tea Urchin
220 tasting notes

Breaking this out as the "Chairman’ has picked and ordered for destiny in my cup. This tea is loosely compressed out of the sample bag. A nice hay and clover aroma to it. I got out 10 grams for the Yixing to start with. Dry leaf very nice looking. gave it a 5 second wash to open it up. Wet lea has a nice floral aroma to it. Brew is a light yellow color. I did 2 quick steeps for the cup. It is a “mixed” bag. Some sweet some bitter but not overpowering in either category. It is more of a “soft” tea with a little tongue buzz but not punchy like a spring tea. I would guess this would be a very nice “starter” sheng to bring someone into puerh. As mentioned in earlier notes I think a Spring version would have a bit more strength and punch to it. A nice really easy drinking Sheng with none of the notes of a Spring tea. Aroma on this is really good and I quote another “Spring tea for the strength and Autumn for the aroma”.
A nice easy to drink Sheng that shouldn’t keep me awake too long after drinking. Relaxing and very mild one to have. Slight honey aftertaste.

Flavors: Bitter, Hay, Honey, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 10 OZ / 295 ML
Cwyn

Yay the Chairman is back!

mrmopar

Yeah the “Chairman” hopes the site will stay current and not lose all the notes.

ashmanra

My daughter is laughing as I read this to her. She loves the “Chairman!”

Kirkoneill1988

too bad ys does not have it

Kirkoneill1988

ouch! tea urchin is kind of expensive :(

JC

Yeah, I felt the same way about this. And for the price you can get better ones. Spring Xi Kongs are mellow, but delicious Shengs.

DarkStar

I wonder if the price tag was the same when they first released it. It seems expensive for an Autumn tea. However I would not be too harsh on Tea Urchin. Their Guafengzhai 2012 is priced at $199. Look at Essence Of Tea’s 2014 Guafengzhhai price at £340 (nearly $550). You can get nearly 3 cakes of Tea Urchin’s for the same price and with a little big of age. It is all subjective…aged puerh appears to be the better deal at the moment…look at Tea Classico and white2tea…their prices are very reasonable for aged sheng. Raw young sheng is becoming more and more expensive.

mrmopar

Oh no It wasn’t meant to be harsh. Tea urchin has very good tea I just like one that kicks my teeth in when I drink it. It is nicely balanced I just like the kick of some teas.
They are great sellers and I have quite a bit of their stuff.

DarkStar

I was referring to Kirkoneill’s comment about Tea Urchin being expensive.

Yeah I’m with you on that one…I prefer to have puerh that kicks my teeth in also :)

mrmopar

I got you. I like the kick a lot. I just had a Menghai Sheng brick from 2005. A bit musty but a heck of a kick to it.

Kirkoneill1988

either way, i prefer ordering from yunnan sourcing :)

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This cake is made from high quality leaves and the tea is very easy to drink (i.e. little to no bitterness or astringency). The leaves are whole and quite large. As the tea brews the aroma is buttery and sweet with a bit of hay thrown in. The tea liquor is very clear and is a lovely pale yellow-orange color. The flavor of the sip is also buttery and sweet with a warming freshness and a pleasant mouthfeel. This is a delicate and reflective tea to enjoy. I went through six very pleasant steeps today and will likely try it again tomorrow or the next day to see just how far I can take it. Some may find this tea a bit boring since it does not “knock your socks off” but I find it rather comforting.

Preparation
7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Yang-chu

Your review is spot on!

Stephanie

TeaUrchin yay!

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This Yi Bang is a very nice tea! When I first started the session, I was not very impressed but by the fourth infusion the leaves had become magical. Beautiful whole leaves and the resulting clear bright liquor has a warm, smooth mouthfeel with soft, sweet notes. I’ve been through 12 infusions and the leaves continue to produce. I also prefer it in 200 degree water rather than boiling.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Stephanie

I tend to do my young shengs at 200 as well :)

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I got a sample of this from the lovely Stephanie

Quite nice. Sweet with an almost bitter finish.

It took me several infusions to figure out what it tastes like: bell pepper!

Yummy!

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96

I can’t overstate the importance of tea urchin’s presence in the current tea landscape. Their shengs possess the most incredible energy and depth of flavor, which bespeaks the care with which the leaves are chosen and crafted into beautiful cakes. Read the reviews on their website; their devotees capture far better than I the intense experience of drinking them.

DigniTea

Agree – two thumbs up for TU!!

TeaBrat

you Steepsterites are a bad influence on me… :)

Charles Thomas Draper

Doug I agree 100 percent.

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