Tea Urchin

Recent Tasting Notes

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
209 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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96

Sampling this amazing sheng is like test driving a Ferrari or Aston Martin; it confirms that there is a level of excellence and a driving experience that is transcendent. Unfortunately, it also makes your own car seem like an ox cart. You buy these shengs from Tea Urchin for the long haul. Right now they are wild, mercurial, and exploding with fruity, grassy/grainy flavor, and there’s something enjoyably masochistic about the bitter fruit. The time will come when the this tea will mature into something incredible, but by then I’m sure my sample will be gone.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 0 OZ / 0 ML
scribbles

Nice comparison :) ! I’ve been itching to make an Urchin purchase. I’ve held off, but i’m reading a lot of positive feedback, so I think an order is soon coming.

Stephanie

TeaUrchin is wonderful stuff

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90

Breaking this out in remembrance.
Listed by the vendor as outstanding floral, sweet soft and creamy with a intense huigan.
lots like a man who passed last night. Soft and smooth, not creamy but always pleasant and a intense strong man who loved his wife and children and nieces, nephews and grand children with a soft but strong love.
The floral and pleasant notes with the good tea buzz on the tongue are very reminiscent of the man I drink in honor of. Soft and strong at the same time. Like a whisper at many times and like a storm in his strong and faithful love for his family.
A special tea that I raise a cup to for a special man.

Flavors: Floral, Sugarcane, Sweet

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

What a friend he must have been. So sorry for your loss.

boychik

Sorry for your loss

Terri HarpLady

Sorry to hear of this person passing, but he sounds like someone special, to be worthy of this dedication.

looseTman

A truly poetic tasting note that honors a dear friend with an analogy that compares his character to that of an exceptional sold out pu’erh. Quite a tribute especially coming from “mrpu’erh”. I too am very sorry for your loss mrmopar.

yyz

What a beautiful tribute, I’m sorry for your loss.

MzPriss

This is a lovely tribute mrmopar.

mrmopar

Thanks, services are this weekend so may be off a day or so.

DigniTea

Lovely sentiment expressed my friend – classy way to pay tribute to a special loss. We’ll miss your active presence and stand ready to welcome you back.

NofarS

I’m so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to him is beautiful and touching. May the bitterness of the loss mellow out over time to memories of good times shared, just as pu’erh does.

Rich

Just drank this yesterday, during my week of hospice care for my father in law. My best to you.

Tea Pet

I’m so sorry for your loss, mrmopar

mrmopar

Thanks you all this means a lot. You are a great bunch of people I am fortunate to know.

AllanK

I too am sorry to hear about your friend.

fyrefly1981

I’m sorry for your loss. may you remember him every time you drink this tea and others like it.

mrmopar

Thanks fyrefly1981 and AllaK much appreciated. I will miss him and hope his wife will know she will se him again.

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91

Another excellent Sheng from Eugene and Belle. The liquor is a beautiful golden color that smells like a smokey hay with a bit of tobacco thrown in. The tea itself is extremely smooth with absolutely no kuwei or astringency noted. This tea tastes just like it smells, it is a beautiful balance of hay, smoke and tobacco with a very gentle huigan to it. Well done Eugene and Belle, you have a passion for tea and your products show it!!!

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
mrmopar

Indeed.

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91

Another truly amazing tea from Eugene and Belle (I sense a theme here). They say that this tea is “One of our hidden gems”, and folks it really is. The color of the liquor is a beautiful gold and it smells like hay mixed with a bit of butter and hint of brown sugar. The tea itself is very smooth with lots of great huigan and absolutely no kuwei or astringency. The taste of the tea is that of grass with light undertones of butter, nuttiness, and brown sugar. As with all Tea Urchin teas the energy of this tea is unbelievable. Almost forty minutes after my steeping session my taste buds are still excited and I can actually still taste the tea!!! Well done Eugene and Belle, and at $58 for 357g this tea is an outstanding bargain.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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98

Another insanely good TeaUrchin sheng! Woo!

This is the last un-tasted TeaUrchin sample from my birthday gift from my husband. This is definitely not one I would have picked out for myself just for the cost alone. (30g for $17.50)

But yes, it is indeed something special. Delicious floral sweetness, nice balance with the tangy “bitter” spice notes, and amazing cha qi. I am tea drunk at work :) “One Thousand Butterflies” FTW

I’m super impressed with TeaUrchin in general and would recommend them to all fans of raw puerh!

boychik

Glad you are having a good time with this sheng! Tea drunk hehe

Stephanie

Sheng does almost give me a “buzz” sometimes. Maybe the Theanine? I dunno. Good stuff though!!!

Sarsonator

Your husband must be pretty awesome!

Stephanie

Indeed he is, Sars! :)

Charles Thomas Draper

I agree about Tea Urchin. And this is an incredible GFZ

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95

Edit 7/31/14
I was too harsh on this one. I was biased towards the price tag. I had four notes written two in the 90s and two in the 80s. The 80s were mostly considering the price vs what else you can get for that price. But the reality is that I should just rate the taste of tea and price being expensive or cheap is up to each person. Read the notes for details. :)

7/30/14
Initial Note This are the notes I took when I first received the cake, the cake was very aromatic with fruity and young sheng notes. I’ve consolidated my other three notes at the bottom in the Final notes section :)

Dry – Aromatic, young notes apparent, honey, apricot, faintly creamy.
Wet – Young, honey, creamy, floral, fruity, stronger apricot.
Liquor – Bright, somewhat pale yellow with slight green hue.

1st 3secs – Honey, creamy, slightly nutty and floral bittersweet notes up front. As it goes down, the bitterness is more apparent, but very mellow and pleasant with fruity and floral undertones and a somewhat savory base. Very young notes were apparent in the aftertaste.

2nd 4secs – Honey, slightly creamy and nutty, floral bitterness with bittersweet fruity undertones up front. As it goes down, it becomes slightly more bitter, but maintains a mellow and pleasant body with some more body adn thick apricot notes at the end. Slightly young still but more honeyed-apricot finish.

3rd 5secs – Floral bitterness, bittersweet fruity notes, light creamy and nutty notes and honeyed up front. As it goes down, it thickens and intensifies its bitter notes with floral and fruity character that resembles apricot as it fades away. It still has the young notes as the huigan fades and stays on the tongue.

4th 7secs – Floral bitterness, bitterseweet fruity notes, thinner body with nutty notes and some honey up front. As it goes down, its bitter notes become more apparent and develops a very pleasant thickness that in turn develops floral/fruity tones that resemble apricots. Some astringency is present with faint young notes, but still honeyed-apricot finish.

5th – 10secs – Floral bitterness, Bittersweet fruity notes, smooth but juicy (as opposed to the initial creamy character) honeyed up front. As it goes down, it becomes thicker with more apparent floral bitterness and fruity bittersweet notes that resemble apricot. The finish is sweet, with honey and apricot and develops young notes with minor hay/herbaceous characteristics.

6th 15secs – Floral bitterness, bittersweet fruity notes, smooth and somewhat thinner and honeyed up front. As it goes down, it is slightly thicker with an apparent floral and fruity character that play betweent bitter and bittersweetness that is very pleasant but plays with more astringency on the tongue. The finish is honeyed-apricots like, it is lasting but has a herbaceous prescense that lingers with astringency.

7th 25secs Floral bitterness and fruity notes that lack the initial smoothness but remains honeyed up front. As it goes down, it has faded thickness in the background like a ghost of what it had to offer, the astringecy is more apparent and brings out the bitter and bitter sweet floral and fruity notes. The finish is still honeyed, and the astringency is still there, the herbaceous/hay is more apparent in the finish.

8th 35secs – Mostly flat and one dimensional. It starts with bitter floral and bittersweet fruity notes, but they seem faded and overtaking by astringency and a mineral/metallic tone, there’s still honey in the front. As it goes down, it gives hints of a thickness that quickly dissipates and becomes bitter-to-bittersweet floral notes and astringent. At this point to me, the astringency went from apparent but pleasant to just astringent.

9th 45secs – Mostly flat, bitter-bittersweet notes and some sweet, no body to it.

Final Notes
Not stealing, but cleverly borrowing Cwyn’s analogy for New Amerykah 2 :P

If New Amerykah 2 (2014) is an illegal and a jail-bait, this one is the Beauty JUST over the age, that carries herself very well… but had that tad too much to drink LOL. When you first meet her, you take it at face value; it is a young sheng after all, but it surprises you during the first few steeps with a gentle well rounded body and only hints of immaturity. The living image that age does not dictate maturity….

As cups go down, the unfiltered reality starts to leak out. Once you reach the 5th steep (sometimes one or two past that), the scene gets loud, immature and uncomfortable. Astringency develops at first and it isn’t an issue, it’s expected, bitter notes are demanded from any Kucha and it slowly delivers. It feels like I went on the ‘perfect’ date and ended up stalking the waiter to bring me the check.

Now, for reality. I was victim of my own preconceptions, the reviews were amazing and with the price tag I expected no less. I feel like this is a really good Sheng blend, but that’s all it is, a blend. The huangpian gives it this undeniable maturity and deep notes at first, but that’s make up and dress up, each cake portion will differ from the other because you can’t guarantee that every piece you get will be balanced, some times it seems like you hit a honeyed, bitter and complex jackpot(sometimes short-lived) and other times you get mostly younger leaves with fine developing characteristics, but lacking depth and maturity. I’d say sample this one for the good times, $90 for a cake this young and with not proof of aging potential is not in my budget; but if you favor young Sheng… this is your date.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Nutty

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
apt

Sounds pretty nice! $90 is a lot though, aren’t Bulangs generally cheaper than that?

JC

Usually much cheaper, but Gushu, blah blah, sourced from a remote village, blah blah, XXXX years old blah blah, pretty wrapper. LOL. I mean, it is a nice Sheng, value is in the eye of the buyer, to me is WAY too expesive. For that price you can get something from the similar/same region with age. I like it, but I’m not sure I enjoyed the price vs the tea.

Sammerz314

I’m actually drinking this tea right now… courtesy of… YOU! hahaI definitely smell the honey in the wet leaves.

Sammerz314

IMO,this is a very nice tea.

JC

It is! lol that’s why I told you so many times I was torn about it. Because I LOVE things about it, and then I hate things about it. So to me it is a give and take.

P.S. >>
It is later steeps that I hate.

JC

Also, what I mentioned about the blending. I’ve found portions that are pure glory and I want to drink it forever then I get a portion that is like having any other 2013 Sheng. I treated you with the front of the cake! lol

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i get notes of apricot skin, dryness on the tongue and lingering flavor on the back of my throat. Somewhat sweet with a pleasant bitterness, and a bit “darker” tasting than most shengs. Not dark like a black tea or a shu, I’m really not sure how to describe it! I do not have the words for this…FAIL.

Great tea buzz from this one though :) TEA ENERGY FTW

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85

Breaking this one out after one of these long work days. They are terrible and don’t leave a lot of hours to drink tea.
I did 10 grams in the Gaiwan to start out. A quick rinse and 3 5 second steeps into the fair cup. The brew is crystal clear in the cup. No cloudiness at all. A little touch of grape in the aroma and the first sip is “Bang” a large hit of the bitter as noted on a previous review and a nice mouthfeel to this one. This has one of the hardest bitter punches I have experienced. It gives a slight touch of faint sweetness in there after plowing through the bitter. Some hints of pine and flower in there.
Nice and strong as this one will punch you in the buds. You will have to enjoy the strength of the bitter it brings to truly enjoy this one with the good Ku Wei and Hui Gan.
Strong and powerful balanced a bit more to the bitter side but enjoyable.

Flavors: Bitter, Pine, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 10 OZ / 295 ML
Sammerz314

One word, Turpentine LOL!

mrmopar

Yeah it is stout even with very short steeps.

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93

Another excellent Sheng from Eugene and Belle. The soup is a beautiful golden hue. The smell of the soup is a really pleasing floral smell that reminded me of wildflowers. The taste is incredible, simply incredible. This Sheng has a unbelievable taste of grass mixed with butter. Like the Wan Gong 2014 Spring that I drank last night, this is one extremely smooth Sheng. Absolutely no hint of kuwei or astringency at all. Again, way to go Eugene and Belle!

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
Stephanie

I’m totally falling in love with TeaUrchin!

SWApilot

I think I already have!!!!!!!

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92

Another excellent Pu’er from Eugene and Belle. In their words “… this Wangong cake is a stand out processing from the 2014 spring harvest” and are they ever correct. The color of the soup is a beautiful golden color. The smell of the soup is an excellent floral and grassy combination that is a delight to smell. The taste is quite simply amazing. To my taste buds the soup has a very well balanced floral and grass flavor with just a hint of honey that comes out at the end. What really surprised me is just how smooth this Sheng is. After seven steepings there was absolutely no astringency and just the slightest hint of kuwei. My favorite part of this Sheng is the energy it exhibits. Here I am twenty minutes after my last sip and my tastes buds are still excited and I can actually still taste this wonderful tea.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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79

Drank this one all day! It started out somewhat astringent, which I enjoyed but I think perhaps others might not appreciate. It was good, as almost all of my TeaUrchin shengs have been, but definitely not my favorite of the bunch. I give it a B-

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79

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Beautiful leaf from 100+ year YiWu tea trees so I was anxious to try this one. First few steeps were very subtle – pleasant enough but little depth or complexity. For a moment I wondered if I should just move on to another tea but I decided to keep working with this Yiwu. After the fourth steep there was stronger flavor but certainly not overwhelming – sweet taste, coats the mouth and throat and lingers; enough subtle bitterness slips in to balance nicely. In general this is an easy to drink tea with beautiful high quality leaf. It won’t knock you over with its flavor but a good tea to keep on hand. I used 6.5 grams with a 5s rinse and a 30s idle followed by 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 40s steeps. Not my favorite YiWu but definitely worth owning. Note: fairly priced at $35 for a 357g cake.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

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80
drank Wan Gong 2013 Spring by Tea Urchin
109 tasting notes

This is one of the more expensive teas at Tea Urchin. The good: the quality of the leaf is amazing. The color is a crystal clear amber that holds up to seemingly endless infusions. The tea is very thick and hearty. There is almost no bitterness. But it is lacking in character. I find the flavor is kind of dull, with no punch and little huigan. I wonder how a tea like this will age. It is clearly very high quality, but little flavor for my tastes.

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80
drank Wan Gong 2013 Spring by Tea Urchin
109 tasting notes

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89

I’ve been enjoying this sheng all afternoon. This is another one of my huge batch of TeaUrchin samples I got for my birthday :D

Lovely sweet and somewhat mellow. I’m digging the vibe and creamy mouthfeel. Flavor is bright and fresh with hints of floral.

Cheri

Sounds yummy! Sheng sounds like it could be right in my flavor wheelhouse. I have one at home that I just need to try.

Charles Thomas Draper

This is an incredible tea.

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92

This is my first sample from Eugene and Belle and it is a gem!!!! The smell of the leaves is that of green hay (my grandfather was a hay farmer) with a slight floral accent. The soup is a very light honey in color and smells like green hay mixed with flowers with a bit of smokiness thrown in. The taste is excellent. It is a very bold fruity/floral mixture with a beautiful huigan and absolutely no astringency. The energy of this tea is incredible, long after drinking this tea my taste buds are still excited and I can still taste the tea itself. I will be ordering a bing of this gem!!!!!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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