Tea Urchin

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Recent Tasting Notes

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
1108 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
184 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
1108 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
95 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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77

Pleasantly bitter at the first few steeps, eventually mellowing into a honey-like sweetness. Tastes of grass/hay/wood, with a very clean aftertaste. A little bit of orchid/floral taste in there as well. Not the best jingmai that I’ve tried, but a solid sheng.

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91

I should straight up review this tea at some point… it is like bulang light… as in bitterness but some aspects of florals and more subtle notes you don’t normally get from BULANG. Also delicious honey notes. This is one of my favorite teas, and I could drink it everyday… and need to save some to do that once it’s older and less tummy aggravating.

Anyways, when I was trying a sample of w2t’s 2015 colbert… the menghai blends made me think of each other. They have a lot of similarities… so I ended up having a show down between them yesterday. This is that tea drunk rant, after that Game of Thrones finale traumatized me:

For post 13… we have the Song of Water and Fire… The game of bulangs. You win or you doom cart.
To the left is our Geisha Snow, the Tea Urchin 2014 Bulang Beauty. To the right White 2 Tea’s champion: Colbert Targarian.

With a year of experience under her belt Geisha Snow has a much more refined taste. Future citizens of Bulang Shan will have a well rounded mannered experienced leader everyone can love. And at $99 for a full size cake, many more citizens can afford and enjoy her.

Fiesty and freshly plucked from the province of Yunnan comes Colbert Targarian. You can tell by looking at those big strong leaves that they can handle the heat of firey waters. While this champion is still green, the after taste endures. Colbert is a bit fiesty and still has those rough bulang manners. So he is a champion for those who already support Bulang-Shan ’ s claim to the throne, and is unlikely to convert any devotees to the path of Yiwu. Also at $80 for 200 grams, or $151.20 for a full size cake… This is a great leader this year for hard core bulang followers.

Both are great drinks and have show worthy wrappers.

At the end… I preferred Bulang Beauty… which pleased me because I really enjoyed Colbert but I already have a cake of Bulang Beauty to love and cherish. Based on what people say about aging, I’m sure Colbert will age better in the long term. It has a fuller body and bitterness… so if someone had money they should get both and enjoy them one after another :P

Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Honey

Preparation
5 g 2 OZ / 59 ML
scribbles

great note! :)

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93

Why oh why does this have to be so good?! It has all the nectar notes of GFZ along with something slightly bitter. I’m still trying to place if it is a menghai or mengla type of bitter… I haven’t ever had LBZ straight, but know TU likes to blend with it, and there is a very light almost bulang bitterness… So I’d guess there is some of that in there. Maybe 10% with another 10% of another source, since it isn’t too prominent. The bitterness makes me think of manzhuan, but it doesn’t have the raw sugary after taste manzhuan or other yiwu sources seem to have to me.

The after taste lingers and lingers. This is fabulous ambrosia. I can see why it’s almost sold out.

Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Nectar

Preparation
7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Stephanie

:D :D :D

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77

Surprisingly, this hasn’t been reviewed yet! I’ve always wanted to try this cake – basically cause I think the wrapper is pretty.

Overall, a great example of young bulang. Sharp and bitter with floral notes of orchid and some lingering notes of apple skin. Probably not something I would drink in its young state, but still a solid tea.

Flavors: Bitter, Orchid

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Like other posters I have got tropical fruit in the profile as well as some hay. The hay reminds of the grassy taste I get with bird’s nest drink…available at Vietnamese or other Asian supermarkets. Not a whole lot of stone fruit here…something I would have expected after reading about and experiencing some Yiwu sourced teas. Not a heavy liquor …which I would have appreciated for a tea leaning towards the higher end of the pricing spectrum.

No somatic feeling detected during or after my session. No smoke either. Nice longevity with 10+ steeps of interest (brewing 6-8g in my 100ml gaiwan) over multiple sessions. The wet leaf aroma smells like honey and star jasmine flower.

Picked up this tea because I was unsure about Yiwu as an area, figured I might as well taste ‘high quality’ Yiwu to see what is like and if this is really an area I should delve further into. The tea overall was pleasant and offered a few stubble taste experiences (I remembering feeling let down when I didn’t take my time with this tea; noticing just a minerally sweetness).

At 99 dollars a cake I am going to pass for tea’s of higher or slightly lower caliber. Acquired 30g sample March, 2015 for $9.50 USD.

Flavors: Hay

mrmopar

I can agree on most Yiwu. Too soft for me.I do have some aging that I hope turns into something good.

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98
drank 2014 Man Zhuan by Tea Urchin
18 tasting notes

Oh wow! This is my favorite Tea Urchin yet… yes I think even better than Bulang Beauty. I almost didn’t want to write this review because it is on sale right now and I don’t have the money for it or shipping.

Per the description you really can smell the caramel while you drink this tea. The taste is a sweet flower and bitter stem sort of mix. This is not subtle or gentle like most of Belle and Eugene’s teas. It is a kick in your face, like the horse on the label suggests.

The after taste lingers and is wonderful and captures more of the caramel. I NEED more of this… one or two cakes assuming it doesn’t sell out before I bring home the bacon! This is so creamy and sharp at the same time. I Love it.

Om nom nom nom nom stumbles off into tea drunk bliss

TL:DR: The most elegant salted caramel you can eat on a diet. Gives you a serious punch in taste and energy. Reminds me of a dessert bulang.

Flavors: Bitter, Caramel, Flowers, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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94

I used to have a bath oil that was suppose to be “Butterfly Nectar” but was a bit sweet and cloying and artificial. This tea is what I bought that hoping it would smell like. A little floral, a little spicey, a little bitter, a little fruit… but all together light and ethereal! You need to pay full attention to the tea to really get all of the notes, and I wasn’t prepared for that on the first steeping. I had to have a lil bit of a heavy hand brewing this, but it is totally worth it.

Wow… and the second time brewing it… (I should note I had a cold for part of it, but was sharing with my sister) I was super surprised how much it blossomed after I would have thought it was long dead. In the late teens early 20s steeps… I am getting serious dark peach notes. And the taste lingers forever. This is the magic of GFZ and why people pay crazy prices… its after taste and steepings that get better and better and longer and longer…

I had to edit this and up my rating. I drank it again and it’s having a super good tea day… I upped the steeping time and leaf ratio… and the fruit is a lot more aggressive in a delicious way! it’s like biting into a peach, and lingers forever.

Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Flowers, Peach, Spices

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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I found initial flavors quite pleasing, similar to what other folks have commented on hay and toffee. No somatic feeling during or after whatsoever. Later steepings are just a bit too mellow for me to appreciate; the overall experience has a tendency to tapper off about 6th-7th steeping…sweetness is still there but steadily becomes not as pronounced -to be expected on teas of lower quality.

Which brings me to the “should order/should not order” conversation… if given the chance to re-do my last Tea Urchin order I would save my money by not ordering this tea (sample) and put the money towards a sample of higher quality. Additionally, I now find this a truism: save the lower quality stuff for a vendor whose specialization is more lower to mid quality, like Yunnan Sourcing.

Acquired 30g sample from Teaurchin.com for $6 USD, March 2015.

Flavors: Toffee

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woof this is a rough and tumble bitter masochistic puer. Strong as can be but still drinkable IMO. If I ever order from tea urchin again I will be sure to grab a cake

Flavors: Bitter

TeaBrat

yikes :)

yssah

huh? why are you ordering a bitter puerh?

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Minerals and a lasting sweetness from an amber liquior which hangs out in the back of my throat in the first couple of steeps. As my session progressed I noticed a non-mouth drying bitterness. Thinking back on that bitter feeling…I think it’s best described as leaning more towards the green/unripe apple tart side of the spectrum (versus persimmon dryness or a lemon’s tartness). The website mentioned a sweetness like Starburst, I had to really stretch my palate to taste that, Starbursts have an artificiality to their fruit flavor, something that really attacks the mouth…no artificial or mouth attacking sweetness was found during my session. The sweetness was more pleasant and natural again akin to eating an apple.

I got a sample of this cake partly because the adjectives describing its taste were so interesting: “watermelon rind” “Starburst” …I even found a blogger who mentioned it being “mucous” “salmon-like” –he found this bad, again I was attracted to the weirdness. After my session I could see why someone would say ’mucous’ like…the tea really hangs around the mouth (and throat) and the liquor is quite thick right off the bat. Looking into my gaiwan I noticed the leaves kinda slowly floating… as if all time and space within the walls of my gaiwan was warping (just so I could have a perfect cup of tea).

Taking a break mid-way through my session, I noticed a warmness radiating around my center and arms…as if just these areas of my body were in a steam sauna. A fair amount of chi here (different from the caffeinated jitteriness I have experienced with past sheng).

Data bits: Acquired 30g sample for $13.50 USD, March, 2015. Brewing parameters: 6g leaf, 100ml gaiwan, 1 rinse, steeps 1-5 5-10 seconds each, steeps 6-8 30 seconds to 1:30 seconds.

Before mentioned blogger and their requisite post: http://cajovykamen.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/she-once-was-true-lao-man-e.html

I really like this tea. Might pick up a cake.

Flavors: Apple, Tart, Thick

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