Tea Urchin

Recent Tasting Notes

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

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.

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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
83 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
83 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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92

This is just a tasting note/book review. I just returned from vacation and while on vacation I read a copy of the English translation of “Pu-erh Tea” from the Appreciating Chinese Tea Series which is an excellent book by the way. The most important thing that I learned from this book was that I was steeping me tea incorrectly. So today I decided to put the techniques that I learned from the book into practice. Let me just say, I was BLOWN AWAY. Those techniques turned this excellent tea into an incredible tea, they really did!!!! I still want to know what that secret 20% is.

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

Are you going to share these “special” techniques?

SWApilot

They really aren’t that special I guess. The big ones were using boiling water instead of 200 degree water and shortening my steeping times a bit. I am really amazed at how much those two changes alone have improved the depth of flavor on this tea.

DigniTea

OK thanks. Probably a good idea to vary time a bit more than I do and maybe even play with temp since I always default to boiling.

TheTeaFairy

SWApilot, who’s the author of this book series?

SWApilot

It was written in Chinese by Wang Jidong and translated by Chen Zhufen and Liu Qingling. If you go to Amazon search “Appreciating Chinese Tea Series”. The trick is finding the English translation version unless you can read Chinese,

DigniTea

I’ll keep an eye out for that one. Here’s another great book on puerh: Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic (Culture, Place, and Nature) by Jinghong Zhang from Yunnan University. Bought it after seeing it mentioned several times in another tea chat room.

SWApilot

Thanks, I will look for it!!!!

TheTeaFairy

Thanks to both of you, always on the lookout for good tea books. Now that I’m getting more and more into pu’erh, I can use all the help I can get!

SWApilot

This is why I love the website so much. You meet a bunch of great people who genuinely care about helping others grow their passion for tea!

TheTeaFairy

What you said SWApilot…so much truth.

And thanks for the link Dignitea :-)

mrmopar

Agreed on the community aspect. That’s why I have stayed around here a while.

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92

Another Sheng Yiwu snob alert!! Here is Eugene and Belle’s description for this tea: " This cake is a special Yiwu blend that we made to celebrate the birth of our son Miles, the dragon baby. When he was 5 months in the womb, he visited the mountains where this tea was made. The leaves are 80% Gua Feng Zhai, 20% secret :) Completely hand made, stone pressed & double wrapped, this cake is a gem." The soup starts off a very pale gold in color that by steeping four turns into the color of raw honey. The smell to me is a combination of butter and hay that is very pleasing to to the nose. The taste is a very sweet with a beautiful floral undertone. There is just a hint of kuwei with a very nicely balanced astringency at the end. This tea is not cheap, but it is worth every penny I spent on it. I just want to know what the secret 20% is!!!!!!

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

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92

Another tasting note. This is the second Pu’er I have brewed using boiling water instead of 200 degree water. I am blown away by the difference 12 degrees makes. This tea went from excellent to incredible. This time around I noticed a buttery smell to the soup that was not present during my last steeping. Also, there was a touch of butter to the taste of the soup as well. Again, if you love Sheng Pu’er, you really need to give this tea some serious consideration.

Preparation
Boiling 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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92

This is my first Tea Urchin tea and it lives up to its name. Eugene nails this one on the head: “Our 2013 Spring Bulang blend has all the hallmark bitterness of Bulang kucha, but with a complex mid-range and a delectable sweet top note & huigan.” The soup is a beautiful light gold and to me has a beautiful smell of butter. The taste is perfectly balanced between sweetness and bitterness. My favorite part of this tea is how it’s energy keeps the taste buds alive long after I am done drinking it. This is an excellent Sheng and if you love Shengs you really need to give this tea a lot of consideration. Well done Eugene and Belle!!!!!!!

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

The cake’s wrapping is spectacular!

SWApilot

In case you would like to know about the wrapping:

“Each cake is wrapped in hand-made Dai paper, with a linocut block print by the artist Elaine Su-Hui. The colorful splashes are inspired by the ceremonial headdress worn by Bulang women.” and “Inspired by the pom-pom head adornments worn by the Bulang women during tea tree worshiping and ancestral ceremonies.”

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