Tea Urchin

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Recent Tasting Notes

Thank goodness someone gifted me this… I am sitting here insanely tea sloshed and it feels amazing. This is the second best sheng I have ever had. Number one is easily Mandala’s Wild Monk because . However, just because this isn’t what I would label as #1 doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing. This sheng is absolutely beautiful. The color is deep and solid as if it is thick. The texture is wonderful but I can’t explain it well enough.

The taste is very pure and it has a touch of wild with any bitterness which is making me a very happy person. The deep taste to this is very intriguing because the mouth feel lingers for a good 12 seconds or so, the feel not just the taste.

As I take nice gulps of this I feel my eyes begin to weigh more, or so I think. This feeling is amazing… almost like drinking gyokuro while laying on a cloud on a beautiful spring day. It provides the same feeling that food does for the itis.

Liquid Proust

I think the cloud has molded to my body… this is such a wonderful tea/experience

Ubacat

Sounds like it has a good energy. Now you got me curious and I’m checking out Tea Urchin!

Glad you liked the Wild Monk 2012. I missed seeing your review. That tea just can’t be bought anymore. I have my tiny little bit stashed away for a special time.

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This wonderful sample came to me from Stephanie.

Having lots of new sheng since May i tend to overleaf them.
I wasnt thinking and put whole 7g of the sample in my tiny 75ml shibo.
Its a first time i recognized immediately my mistake.

This tea is very powerful. It hit me from the very first steep. I was tea drunk right away. Looked up on their website they recommend 6g/100ml.
Transferred to my 100ml yixing. Much better.

This tea is incredible. it is very thick, very sweet and smooth . Starts from yellow but on a 2nd steep it becomes pretty orange. And bitterness comes in. Not slight, pretty pronounced along with some astringency. Followed up with sweet aftertaste, but not like honey sweet, more floral syrupy.

I continued the next morning ,its pretty long lasting. Bitterness faded away. It was just smooth and pleasant. then i decided to increase the time to almost a minute and it was quite punchy and bitter again.

Thank you Stephanie for sharing this incredible tea with me. it was a great experience.

https://instagram.com/p/600OM8hwuS/

https://instagram.com/p/609ZVKhwoo/

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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From the Sheng and Shou TTB #2

I’m feeling guilty. I realized that until this week it had been 3 months since I posted comments. I’ve been mostly just drinking and have been concerned about how accurate my reviews of puerh have been since I’m relatively new to the type.

This tea is a good example. It didn’t hit me at first: a bit of off flavor in the first steep. After that, every steep just seemed to get better, through about the 5th steep. I’m now at the 8th steep, and there is still a lot of flavor. Mostly wood flavors, but fairly complex. A hint of bitterness and acid around the 3rd steep, but has since mellowed out. I wound up liking it a lot.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C
DigniTea

I enjoy this one as well.

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Wide leaves and brew that comes out much lighter than the website pictures. The website also denotes “earthiness” and I am really struggling to find it in this tea which is light amalgamation of bitter, mint and honeysuckle sweet throughout the entire session. This a good daily drinker, though pricey ($64.27 for 357g) when one considers the overall experience. I would rather have White2Tea’s Little Walk (also touted as a good daily) before this tea, not to mention it is cheaper (~$34.81 for 357g).

Acquired sample from Teaurchin.com, for $6.50

Flavors: Bitter, Honeysuckle

jschergen

Wow. Cake sizes sure are tricksy ain’t they!

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Talk about some amazing breakage. The sample of this that I was given looked like 100% loose leaf. Quite beautiful :)

This woke me up this morning quick quickly with the strength and bitter tones to it. I will say that it is always interesting to notice the difference in taste from 15s to 20s, there’s a lot that goes on within 5s. This is one that I have to almost flash brew to enjoy it’s liquid.

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85

I ordered 30 grams of this tea along with another Gua Feng Zhai blend a couple of weeks back. Upon arrival, I was rather eager to get this one into my Gaiwan. As usual, I go with about 6 grams to 100 mL of water. The wet leaves have a pleasant look – complete intact leaves with a brown colour with a subtle green tint to them. I really enjoy the nose off these leaves. The wet leaves produce a pleasant soft, sweet, fruity fragrance. I suppose one can say its typical of the region. The liquor isn’t too light or too thick in the mouth but rather nice. Definitely a nice sweetness and mouth feel to it. The Hui gan is definitely there as well. Easily lasting up to 20 seconds. I feel that this is a great tea to drink, however, I wouldn’t pick up a full bing at the asking price. I’d give this tea an 85/100 :).

I completely love the story behind the wrapper! From the dragon arms pointing to time Miles was born to the significance of the trumpet! Got to love Miles Davis!!!!! In fact, this entire tea session was accompanied by Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Birthday tea #16

Got back from the meetup and popped open a bottle of hard cider I bought for my birthday.
After that, meaning I drank all of it, I decided it was time for something strong being some pu’erh. Thankfully I was given a gift of this lovely Tea Urchin ripe :)

This tea is quite smooth! My best friend really enjoyed drinking steep after step of this, but I found it to be a bit robust for my taste buds. She drink coffee and I do not so part of me thinks it was just a little to deep and dark of a taste for me; however, I drank quite a bit of this so despite my flavor preference the quality had me coming back.

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Birthday tea #2

Let me just say that I am very grateful to be able to have a tea from my birth year; also, I am very thankful for members on Steepster who organize group purchases which make it more accessible to try/purchase pricey teas that came in larger quantities such as 100g or a whole cake.

Before even drinking this tea I went back to my memory of drinking Butiki’s 1991 oolong. Those thoughts reminded me of the smoothness of a tea that comes about through aging which is true with my experiences with pu’erh as well. This piqued my interested in an aged roasted oolong. Oolongs may be my favorite variant of tea, but many times I grow tired of a roasted taste as it leaves the mouth dry’ish.

Looking at this leaf doesn’t really tell me much to be honest and neither does the smell. I suppose this is to be expected with something that has been aged (in this case 26 years). Since this is in an aluminum bag inside a tin, I decided not to use my hands not a scoop to get the tea out; I simply just tapped the bag gently and let it flow out.

The first steep was quite bizarre in a way I cannot explain fully. It didn’t taste like an oolong at at. What I did taste was a roasted caramello bar. It sounds odd, but I am 100% serious when I say that there is a cocoa note in this which is not separate from the caramel. With that being said, I went online to look this tea up because I was utterly confused by what I was drinking. Tasting notes for this tea are rather low, if any at all.

Second steep, third, fourth, fifth… this tea goes on for quite awhile and it stays smooth and sweet (with such a mild roast taste that gets overpowered by the unusual caramello taste).

Pretty crazy tea, in a good way. This is the kind of stuff I am looking to buy to put together a taste testing group buy in which I will purchase 5 expensive and 5 inexpensive teas that have great reputations (company wise) and just labeling them with numbers. However, I’m holding back on this because I don’t want to have some sort of weird issue with being a tea company myself to promote certain other companies; but lets be honest, for instance: If Butiki was still around I would ask for all my customers to try their teas out since I view tea as a collective type of product. No reason to not support all the other people out there doing it. Everyone who talks to me eventually realizes that I hate the restraints that come about with the concept of fiat currency (aka, money).

I’m quite excited to be able to showcase and share this tea with 12 different people who are coming over for one of my hosted tea events on August 22nd. They are all in for a treat :)

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95

My mouth is numb and I can hardy speak, much less type. Love this Sheng—not too sweet, moderately fruity and a tad bitter, with a pleasant smokiness emerging in the mid-steeps. And teak.

Very little viscosity. A little bit of vanilla custard sneaking in.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
DigniTea

This is a special tea. Big fan of this one myself.

Doug F

I agree. I ordered the 2013 to see how it compares.

Stephanie

I’m so sad that it is sold out :( I love this one SO MUCH!

Stephanie

By the way the Miles Birthday Blend is 80% the same tea! It’s REALLY good too!

Doug F

Thanks for the tip. Next order!

jschergen

Doug, I’m curious about that 2013. Not much has been said about it, especially compared to the 2012! Please post your notes when you try it.

I think they’ve pressed a 2015 one too, don’t think it’s posted yet too.

Doug F

I will. It’s on the slow road from China along with some YS samples I’ve purchased based on teadb reviews and recs.

jschergen

Cool! Hope you enjoy em.

DigniTea

Thumbs up on Miles as well!

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With the Tea Urchin group buy coming in within the next week’ish, I decided to try one of the teas I already have from them. Even though I purchased some 1989 oolong… all I have from them is pu’erh currently.

I will say that I have high expectations because of their pricing :P and here is what I found out about this tea:

The first three steeps of this tea have nothing unique about it, it’s just another ripe… once you go into about the 6th steep is when you really get a glimpse at the beauty of this tea. I preformed my normal test for high end pu’erh teas by leaving out a few steeps for 30 minutes to get luke warm to see how it taste. I do this test because I have found it to be true that quality pu’erh will have a wonderful silky feel and great taste as it goes down at a normal temperature.

This tea just takes a little time to get ‘awakened’ and then it’s smooth sailing.
:)

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I’ve been finally working my way through the samples the Stephanie sent to me!
One of the many things I love about using a yixing pot is that every time I open the lid, the tea has grown. Its like opening a present over & over again. I know that probably sounds silly, but my inner child, little terri, loves it. It makes me smile.

So…what to say about this tea…the aroma is very sweet, almost syrupy, the liquor is a beautiful amber. The tea itself is a little tart at first, then sweet like apricot, but with a bitter edge on the tip of the tongue to balance it out. The tea buzz is very clarifying, and a real ‘feel good’ kind of energy. I like that.
There is a floral after taste, especially in the 4th & 5th steeps, which also taste of dried bell peppers. Weird, but true.
Thanks again for sharing Stephanie!

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I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the ‘sticky rice’ taste, but regardless, this was a pleasant afternoon tea session, with many steepings. I’ve been out of town for most of the past 2 weeks & my garden is insanely overgrown & in need of attention. I had planned to head out there, but a downpour informed me that I would not be doing so, and so it’s tea & harp playing, all for me!

This is clean, with that shiny & bright feeling, as if a group of brass players were all playing, using mutes. Yup…that pretty much describes it. Also, the taste of olive leaf. There’s more, but there are no words to give. Thanks to Stephanie for the sample :)
Sipdown! 267

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90

My god,

First thanks to the awesome Phi for giving me a sample of this one.

Here is the best example I can come up with this tea, this is the bastard child between
a very sweet yiwu AND a menhai production like the New Amerikah 2. It’s not bitter
per my standard but I do not find the NA2 to be too too bitter which is to say that
I love my teas VERY punchy.

The energy that goes out of this tea is awesome, deep relaxed calm that help me
to focus. I paired this tea with some solo piano jazz and it was perfect!

I will definitvely consider a cake of it at some point!
Cheers

Flavors: Bitter, Sweet

Preparation
6 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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Early spring material from Wan Gong (high altitude Yiwu village located near Gua Feng Zhai) which is supplemented by 10% from LBZ and Bing Dao. The cake itself is beautiful – beautiful whole leaves which have been well handled and carefully processed. Smooth and sweet from the first sip with a light buttery mouthfeel. In later steepings the bitterness increases but certainly not in an unpleasant way. There is a lingering sweet aftertaste to remind one that this is primarily YiWu area material. Nice mellowing Qi hits after the third cup. These leaves are excellent and the tea offers a very appealing mix of sweet and bitter. The tea is a winner and I definitely must give it a high recommendation. Note: I was fortunate enough to purchase one of the last 200g pressings of this cake which reduced my cost. I just checked the website and it seems they are now selling only the 357g cakes.

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

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drank 2014 Man Zhuan by Tea Urchin
1111 tasting notes

Thank you for the sample Phi!

Wow, a sheng with a creamy vanilla note! Very interesting! I wasn’t sure I was going to like this tea at first. My first steep started a little bland, second was creamy vanilla pudding and third started to develop a caramel note :)

Very interesting and tasty but again not something I will end up purchasing. Hurray for TeaFriend samples

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drank Nahan 2014 by Tea Urchin
191 tasting notes

Young and punchy.. This is too bitter for me to enjoy right now. I’m partial to middle aged sheng unless it’s a young jingmai.

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drank Xi Kong 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
1111 tasting notes

Thank you for the sample Phi!

I’ve never had a sheng quite like this. Extremely floral, with notes of hay and honey and sunshine. The florals are different than the florals I get from other young sheng. I picture the flowers in my head and they are blue and purple instead of white and yellow. (I know that is a little odd.) Pretty thick liquor too. Not quite sweet, but not bitter either. An enigma! Very tasty. Totally up my alley and I want to drink more but not for this price.

jschergen

I like that one too. It’s one of my favorites from their 2014 line, along with the Gaoshan Zhai.

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90

Very clean shu, light fermentation, no off flavors.. Very thick, dark, and creamy in texture, color, and taste. Notes of wood, mushroom in the early steeps. Tea is very dark from steeps 2-8, lightening after. The later steeps become clearer, the flavor developing a caramelized sweetness. Overall, a full mouthfeel over 12 steeps, and a delicious way to get into ripe puerh without any potentially off-putting flavors. Definitely on the short list for “really good shupu.” At $60 for a 400g cake, this is a steal – definitely a daily drinker and accessible to new shupu drinkers.

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85

This beauty isn’t the boisterous loud beauty that it’s sister bulang is… you need a lot of time and focus to really open Yiwu Beauty up. This is one of those rare teas that is best long after you think it’s a goner. A phoenix.

The initial steeps are kinda sugary generic yiwu, and around the time you think it is losing flavor… those later long soaks all of the sudden that sugar dusted yiwu is combine with deep fruit flavors. These later soaks is where it really shines.

While I wish the initial steeps were more boisterous and thick, this tea is worth taking the time and patience to get to know, because once she opens up she is a beauty.

Flavors: Floral, Peach, Plums, Sugarcane

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Not something that I really enjoyed.. The rinse tasted like if you roasted baked beans over a campfire and could bottle that up in a taste-able form.. But then the steeps were super bitter to me at 195F. After a few steeps, nothing really changed, so I went to 175 and it was mellow and a little sweet. Too finicky for my tastes.

boychik

I never make sheng lower than 200F. Maybe you should try to up temps. You maybe rewarded with huigan after. Haven’t tried this tea though

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79

This tea is deceiving, since the taste is of a much older sheng. The aging has been accelerated and it shows in the very shou-like qualities. Notes of smoke, wood.. The first steep tasted like it was aged in an oak cask or something. Very enjoyable, but not my favorite either.

Stephanie

Good description of this tea :)

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73

This is very complex.. Mildly astringent, for sure. Notes of floral, grassy, and for some reason, I smell roasted peanuts, but I don’t taste it. I really didn’t notice this tea change over time with the steeps. I wouldn’t buy more of this, but it’s still a pleasant experience to be sure.

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The eye appeal of this cake is spectacular – great wrapper; nicely processed cake; beautiful whole leaf material (small leaf gushu). XiKong, Manzhuan and Yibang are all located in Mengla County, Xishuangbanna and understandingly their teas share many of the same characteristics. The scent of this cake is a subtle floral (rather like wildflowers). Light gold, clear tea liquor with the delicate scent of sweet floral and a granary sweetness in the taste. Decent mouthfeel with a low level bitterness on the edge of the tongue. The qi begins to make its presence known during the third steep. The mouth feel becomes thicker and pleasantly astringent as the tea session progressed. This most definitely is not a “knock your socks off’ sheng in terms of bold power but rather a delicate, sophisticated sheng that seeks to impress one with its underplayed subtlety (subtle aroma, subtle sweetness, subtle bitterness). The quality of the material is evident from beginning to end. This tea is best enjoyed when you can give it your full attention and drink it slowly so that you can appreciate all aspects of its elegance.

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

Gosh I love TeaUrchin stuff so much! And the block print wrapper on this cake…someone needs to hire me to design and print wrappers! :D

JC

Yes! This. I love XiKong for those exact reasons, is a definitive bouquet of floral, honey and fruits with a good body, but it is all done in a very delicate and subtle way. I feel like Regions like XiKong help us properly define that subtle and delicate are no synonym of weak.

DigniTea

well put, JC – subtle/delicate does not mean weak!

DigniTea

Steph – yes, you can always count on TU to produce high level cakes always processed carefully and made with quality material.

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94
drank Golden Peony by Tea Urchin
107 tasting notes

Truly a high grade yancha. Abounds with flowery aromas equaled by the flowery fruity flavors (peony/apricot) with a touch of honey. Used a 120ml yixing pot which rounded the flavors. Lasted quite a long time which shows a supreme example of tea perfection. Felt a nice relaxed comfort all the way through brewing and imbibing. Will be re-ordering in the future as they are out of stock at present. The price is agreeable to the tea’s value. Thanks Tea Urchin

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