Tea Urchin

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86
drank bang wei 2007 Spring by Tea Urchin
945 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.

Flavors: Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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95

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

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Liquid Proust

Excited for this and interested in how you view the 07 :)

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drank Bulang 2006 Spring by Tea Urchin
156 tasting notes

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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
DigniTea

I have several of these 2005 Six Famous Tea Mountain Co. productions and I generally like them. They all seem to be single-estate productions and they are often first-flush. I enjoy the 2005 Bulang so I am happy to learn that the ‘06 is also good. I’ve heard that productions from later years are somewhat lower in quality.

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86
drank 1986 Lishan by Tea Urchin
118 tasting notes

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

Liquid Proust

How many steeps did you get out of this guy?

Rasseru

Today I enjoyed 3 large western style, when I drank gongfu before, I cant remember! at least 5?

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86
drank 1986 Lishan by Tea Urchin
118 tasting notes

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95

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
kevdog19

You make this sound sooooo good haha. Burnt sugar sounds like a “waffle hut” caramelized waffle

Rui A.

It is actually quite yummy. A group of us had a great session with it and everyone agreed that it was a sweet and well rounded off young raw pu’er.

mrmopar

I need to pull my Peacock cake out again soon.

Rui A.

I actually have not touched the peacock cake yet. Must also do it soon.

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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.

Preparation
Boiling 8 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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98

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/-o2qGuTGRX/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel

Edit: Just found out this is sold out… facepalm

Flavors: Apricot, Fig, Graham Cracker, Honey, Oats, Plums, Winter Honey

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Wan Gong 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
156 tasting notes

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.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
mrmopar

I wasn’t too impressed by this one at first. Time to do another brew I see.

jschergen

This sums it up well for me too. I’ve had some very good sessions with this and a few others where it’s good, sweet, but less exciting.

JC

This is what I started doing about a year and a half ago (partly the reason I’m so bad at uploading notes now). I do at least three sessions with a tea before deciding how I feel about it. I’ve had teas blow me away the first time, to only feel somewhat bland later, then I’ve had some that never caught my attention but now turned into daily drinkers. This was the case with a cheaper jingmai that w2t had, mid aged very mellow. Now I’m trying to find it again and I can’t.

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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

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 11 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Haveteawilltravel

I’ve been wanting to try this :)

Brian

ive been eyeing this sucker for a while. havent actually placed an order with Tea Urchin yet….

Haveteawilltravel

neither have I Brian, It’s the shipping that deters me Dx

mrmopar

If you guys need a split I am sure we can work it out. The shipping from China from them ain’t bad though.

paxl13

11 GRAMS in 90ml…. I do 6g in 90ml!!! DAMN You have a real WARRIOR STOMACH

mrmopar

I like a kick in the teeth. I do very short steeps although.

Kirkoneill1988

i’ll try this someday

paxl13

@mrmopar Let’s be honnest, you like it WARRIOR STYLE :) nothings wrong with that :D

Kirkoneill1988

@paxl13 i have a strong stomach too

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89

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

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88

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88

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

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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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.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 75 ML
TeaExplorer

This sounds like a really nice sheng!

DigniTea

Yes, it is not what I would classify as a bold powerhouse but I found appealing complexity within the subtleness of the tea.

TeaExplorer

Overall, healthy balance of sweetness and low level bitterness; good strength of character – complex and rich; calm and relaxing chaqi, invoking a peaceful state.

That was the part that caught my attention.

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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.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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90
drank Ge Deng 2015 Spring by Tea Urchin
35 tasting notes

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

jschergen

First person to review their 2015 harvest I think!

Phi

I think so… but they are still posting their cakes I think. Every few days I see new ones when I look. I ordered some samples from them because I had an oolong need… and there is no one who can touch their value for the quality on some of their lower and mid grade oolongs! (I can’t afford their expensive ones so I wouldn’t know). So I sampled 2/3 of their 2015 cakes that were posted by then. I have a review of the Dark Forest 2015 incoming this week as soon as I can young sheng some more.

jschergen

Looking forward to the Dark Forest review. I should have a sample of that incoming soon as well!

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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.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
Stephanie

I adore the 2012 version of this tea

Stephanie

And I don’t agree that Tea Urchin teas share a similar profile…which ones have you tried? :)

Doug F

A fair number. Lao Man E, Man Zhuan, Gao Shan Zhai, Wang Gong. Maybe it’s my insensitive taste buds, but I always get a similar vibe from the TU teas, not much apricot or other stone fruits, just a nice clean floral sweetness.

jschergen

That’s some silver lining right there re: sickness :).

I agree to some extent with Doug although many of them are different enough to keep it interesting (IMO). I think towards the tail end of the session a lot of their teas do tend to converge. 75% of what they press also seems to be Yiwu teas, which probably doesn’t help in the diversity category.

As far as that other idea.. I’m afraid for the time being I’m completely burned out of young sheng. I’ve had productions from all three vendors though.

Don’t think CLT has a house taste or w/e.
Pu-erh.sk definitely has some similarities across their teas. They seem to source 2-3 teas from a single area with about 3-4 areas total.
EoT I think has a good deal of variance. Even their Yunyun and Yunya from different years are different enough to be interesting.

Stephanie

Fair enough. I’ve heard folks say the same thing about YS shou…all similar towards the end. Interesting!

Doug F

Thanks for weighing in Stephanie and James!

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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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
jschergen

Nice review. Sounds pretty tasty! Do you think the strength is pretty comparable to the 2012?

Doug F

I don’t think it has as much oomph or all-round complexity as the 2012 but there are no “waste steeps.” It gets up to speed quickly and remains there.

jschergen

Got it. Thanks for the note :).

boychik

i feel i dont need tons of cheap average pu. i still have my price limitations but i raised them

jschergen

@boychik. Definitely agree! I think my limit is around the $0.50/g mark or so. Have a hard time rationalizing anything beyond that even if it’s pretty awesome (i.e. Last Thoughts)

Doug F

Yes this cake sits comfortably around the .50/gram mark as does the 2014 Wan Gong, which I didn’t think was quite as good.

jschergen

Yeah. I like that Wangong a good deal, but it didn’t quite have the oomph of their GFZ (at least their 2012).

On a semi-related sidenote, I’m very curious about the Dark Forest that they just added.

mrmopar

jschergen I just put an order in today with some of the Dark Forest in it.

jschergen

@mrmopar . Cool! Looking forward to hearing about it.

Doug F

The description is very alluring.

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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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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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