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Recent Tasting Notes
2016 Sheng Olympics Group Buy. This is a nice tea. It is very smooth with little bitterness. While its got some sweet notes it does not have the apricoty sweetness of the 2011 Bang Wei Spring. It has aged into something quite pleasant though. There is no hint of wet storage in this tea yet it has aged somewhat. It has a nice dark colored tea soup. It has not yet developed any unpleasant aged flavors. It is quite good.
I steeped this twelve times in a 100ml gaiwan with 7g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 mini, 1.5 min, and 2 min.
2016 Sheng Olympics sheng sampler from Liquid Proust. This is without doubt one of the best shengs I have ever drank. It had very little bitterness and a sweet taste from the start. I would have to use the word apricot to describe the sweetness, apricots and stonefruits definitely. I gave this ten steeps and may go back to two more if I reheat my Anta Pottery Clay Boiler again. I don’t know how much this one cost and I’ve never ordered from Tea Urchin but I definitely want one. I think I want to buy one and store it it my pumidor for the long term. However, since I also want to go in on the group order from Yanqqinghao with Emmet I may have to wait on this.
I steeped this tea ten times in a 100ml gaiwan with 6.3g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min. The tea was not played out at ten steeps, I’m sure I could get a few more from it and may go back to it after I finish this review.
Flavors: Apricot, Stonefruits, Sweet
What a pleasant surprise to start my Friday! Eugene included this free sample in my latest order and I’m grateful. It has the perfect amount of herbal/medicinal/minty flavor that I love in semi-aged shengs, no bitterness, a hint of smoke and sweet vegetable component to boot.
It generates a nice tingling sensation on the tip of the tongue and solid qi (even if it does drop off somewhat quickly).
I feel I could drink this regularly and remained intrigued.
Another from the 2015 aged Oolong group buy.
I thought this tea was nice – much preferred it to the other, more roasted examples.
There was a pleasant meshing of flavour & aroma which made it really hard for me to pinpoint what they were (I have a pretty hard time with this anyway, with any tea) but I got dried bark, woods, nuts, some perfume, some fruit – plum I think. The roast was subtle (never re-roasted) which I liked.
What most stood out was the very soft & velvety nature of the feels in the mouth, as the flavours were quite more subtle than what I’m used to in an Oolong, and it wasnt oily or buttery, it was airy but not smokey. – Apparently I got a more creamy nose when I drank it last time. Ive got a cold and been stuffing sudafed up my nose and its affected it.
Thanks LiquidProust for organising and everyone at steepster for being awesome & making it happen by joining in!
Flavors: Bark, Cream, Nuts, Plums, Wood
Crème brûlée on wheels (leaves)
Starting from the tea leaves aroma, either when dry or after a flash rinse, of orchids or even wild flowers to the smoothness, burnt sugar caramel like taste and medium to high density of its liquor there is no end to positive adjectives I could add to describe this beautiful looking tea. One of the best young YiWu raw pu’er teas I have sipped.
Flavors: Caramel, Creamy, Sweet
kieblera5 sent me a generous sample of this some time ago. Thank you very much!
Had a gongfu session with a ceramic gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 20 seconds, 15, 15, 20, 40; 1 minute, 2, 5, 10.
The dry leaf aroma smells of chocolate and earth. The chocolate is strengthened in the rinse and wet leaf aromas.
The first infusion is very light – light in color (orange) and light in flavor (mushrooms). This shou gets going right after this, though. Both the color and flavors strengthen. Lovely shade of dark red in the pitcher, when held against sunlight. My session was split in about half, not counting the first cup. I had to take a four hour-long break. There is a difference in taste and texture. Infusions 2-5 are deliciously creamy, sweet, and cocoa-filled. I didn’t give much to my tea pet, Georgie. Sorry not sorry, buddy. The cocoa is still there in 6-8, but it is more bittersweet than sweet. And the texture is not quite as smooth but still thick.
Overall, a clean and light shou. Not heavy like other chocolately shous I’ve had perviously. Don’t underleaf, like I did in the first session (this review is based off of my session), otherwise it’s far too light. Very glad to have tried this! The price for a cake on Tea Urchin’s website is more than reasonable.
Awesome, I’m the first to review!
This tea is fantastic! This is everything I’m looking for in an aged oolong. The dry nuggets are still relatively green with some brown and yellow. I open up my jar, and I take in the nice fig and apricot tone. I was picking up some light wood in the background. I placed these in my warmed gaiwan and shook them up. The warmed leaf gave off a delicious honey covered figs aroma. I was picking up some sweet apricot and oats in the background. This tea is very fruity and syrupy. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The steeped leaves deepen to a sharper scent of smoked fruit and plums. The taste was phenomenal! This brew is the ideal golden liquor that has a powerful mouthfeel. My taste buds were struck with a potent wildflower honey and ripe apricot flavor. The flavor ends with an intense aftertaste. The brew carries a graham cracker sweetness in the background. The tea grows a little more roasted and bitter in later steeping sessions. The huigan continues throughout the entire session. This sensation is thick, syrupy, and a mouthwatering honey sweetness. The brew has a prescient bitterness that shows up in the later steeping. This bitterness clears the palette for a nice sweet aftertaste to follow.The final steeping reverts back to winter honey and slight grassy tones. This drink lasted me for some time, and the leaves are fairly durable. The qi is a exhilarating head buzzing and heart warming. The sweet taste lasts long after the session, and I expect to have this aftertaste all the way through today. I will definitely be picking more of this up, and I’m so happy to have found an adequate aged oolong.
Edit: Just found out this is sold out… facepalm
Flavors: Apricot, Fig, Graham Cracker, Honey, Oats, Plums, Winter Honey
My experience with this tea represents a cautionary tale not to judge a raw pu-erh on one session or even the first couple of steeps in a session. One’s relationship with a sheng is a story that unfolds over time, with turning points, climaxes, different moods and tones.
When I first tried this tea I thought it was pleasant, a bit mild for my tastes perhaps, but clean and friendly. And that impression continued into the first two steeps of the latest session. But then something happened on the third steep that caused me to adjust my estimation of the Wan Gong. All of a sudden it became a little sweeter, thicker and duskier, with a juiciness you get from eating a red grapefruit.
It could be that I first tried this in the midst of drinking stronger teas and it got lost in the cacophony of those noisier teas. Anyway, this is a really well-processed, calming tea with beautiful leaves that has some surprises in store when you find its sweet spot.
It has taught me to soldier on with All the Light We Cannot See, a book that is a bit precious for my tastes but hopefully will hit some other notes and prove worthy of its considerable reputation.
Breaking this out for review tonight.
Nice thick wrapper on this one. I broke off about 11 grams to brew in the Gaiwan.
I gave a rinse and a little sit time before starting out. This carries a nice sweetness to it.
First brew are 5 seconds. The tea carries the sharpness and bitterness of a Bulang tea without being as intense as some. Still strong and still punchy. The tea is almost thick and viscous that coats the mouth and tongue in a good way.
Kuwei is nice and it causes some salivation between sips. There is just a hint of floral in there somewhere. Aftertaste lingers with this one.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Sweet, warm grass
The other reviewer summed this one up well. It’s delicious, but a little light for me. It’s super sweet, with clear notes of peaches and vanilla. There is a wonderful tingly cooling mouth feel after too.
There isn’t the normal bitterness most teas have or florals most yiwus have. I could see this being a great entry puerh for people coming from green and white teas.
People who like Xikong or Yiwu Beauty from last year would like this. It’s a sweeter cleaner, but less complex version of that. I think it would have a very broad appeal.
The cup smells like caramelized peaches after. Delicious!
Flavors: Honey, Peach, Vanilla
This tea has a very thick and creamy mouthfeel. It somehow seals my throat… very very gluey (and i like that). This tea is very sweet, with honey aroma… i thought i even taste some vanilla. It has a powerful elegant deepness in it`s rich sweet flavors.
But, for my taste i would wish for a little bit (more, there is just very little) bitterness….
Yes i love young sweet Sheng / Raw Puerh … but this is very sweet and could have some more bitterness to make it just perfect…
But, who wants a perfect world?! :-) The tea is already very good as it is.
Flavors: Apricot, Candy, Honey, Honey Dew, Vanilla
Ban Pen is a BuLang village found close to Lao Ban Zhang and Lao Man’e. It is home to the LaHu minority people who earn the majority of their living from tea and ancient tea trees surround the village. Reported to have less bitterness than Ban Zhang but a fast huigan and a lingering feel in both the mouth and throat. Medium sized, spindly, dark and twisted leaves. Fresh clean scent (tangy and sweet) from the dry leaf. Clear golden yellow tea soup with a sweet herbaceous aroma. The first sip revealed a fresh pure taste with a light hit of bitterness. A few sips later I began to detect a warming sweetness which became stronger and more dominant in successive steepings. Buttery mouthfeel builds up throughout the session. Overall, healthy balance of sweetness and low level bitterness; good strength of character – complex and rich; calm and relaxing chaqi, invoking a peaceful state. Included in TU’s “Bulang Maocha Tasting Set” or you can buy a 50 g packet of just the Ban Pen.
Update: Endurance – good for 6 steeps than it fades rather quickly.
Sometime during the summer I was fortunate to receive 3 samples of Bulang gushu maocha from Tea Urchin’s 2015 spring harvest. I’ve let them sit and develop a bit and now ready to taste. This HeKai sample is a rich and potent young sheng. The dry leaves are whole and project a fresh sweet aroma. After (2) 5 second rinses, the tea liquor from the first steeping is a clear yellow-gold. The taste is fresh and clean with a honey sweetness and fruitiness dominating the early cups. A pleasant taste-sensation follows in the later infusions as the tea becomes simultaneously bitter and sweet. Good body feel with a lingering sweet vegetal taste in the mouth and throat. Happy to have tried this very appealing tea! Looks like you can try this solid example of He Kai leaf in TU’s “Bulang Maocha Tasting Set” or you can buy a 50 g packet of just the Hekai.
Dry the leaf has a very sweet floral aroma, but as soon as you warm it up you know you’re smelling a relative of Manzhuan. That rich vanilla depth. But here it is paired with some subtle floral notes and something akin to nectarine or apricot skin that becomes more pronounced as the infusions go on. A stellar tea if you are a fan of Tea Urchins 2014 Manzhuan or W2T’s 2015 Poundcake. This is their more complex sister.
I’ve only brewed this one up once (and only have enough for one or two more sessions) but to me this seemed a little less tricky to get right than those two. I only had to minorly adjust my default brewing method on the second steep to bring out the complexity of this pot. I’d say this is something someone new to puerh could enjoy as well as people who are more seasoned. It’s not mind blowingly complex, but it is complex enough to make you take notice. It’s comforting but challenges you to taste a little more closely. It’s fresh but familiar all at once. Over all this is a good tea that I think could be enjoyed by many. It’s a blunter version of GFZ but I think could be loved by someone who wants GFZ but doesn’t want to pay more than twice as much for the cake.
I don’t know if this screams special occasion… but it definitely screams I am wearing my fancy PJ pants and want to treat myself to something extraordinary. It’s something you could serve to guests who love green or white teas… and you want to bring them to the puerh dark side.
Another high quality tea from Belle and Eugene.
Sorry for the utility tasting notes. I don’t think one tasting is enough to truly describe this tea, but I’m hoping that this is enough to guide people who will enjoy this tea to sample it and improve upon my tasting note.
In short: yumm this is all peaches and vanilla and green tea!
Flavors: Apricot, Orchid, Vanilla
I’m really enjoying this one today after emerging from a little cold where I couldn’t taste anything. I will say this for a cold: I can get drink and deplete my teas I don’t like very much and not have to actually taste them.
Tea Urchin teas seem to share a similar profile—fairly sweet and clean with a spring water freshness. James @teadb: maybe it would be interesting to do an investigative episode about the small pu-erh vendors like Crimson Lotus, EoT, pu-erh.sk, to discover whether their offerings share similar traits or characteristics regardless of terroir.
Ineffable rock-candy sweetness with notes of corn and hay, the broth generously lubricates the mouth and is quite persistent in the throat. I’m really amazed at the consistency of this tea that steep to steep pumps out consistently sweet, clean, full-bodied mouth-watering liquor with no ebb in flavor and no bitterness. People talk about price per gram of tea, but maybe there should be a price-per-excellent-infusion category in which the Guang Feng Zhai would challenge for supremacy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.