Tea Urchin

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Recent Tasting Notes

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
8 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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90

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.

Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Flowers, 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 :)

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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, I 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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drank Nahan 2014 by Tea Urchin
38 tasting notes

A nondescript raw.

Working into my infusions I noticed no smokiness, no overwhelming bitterness, no nasty body feeling. Great…but no real fireworks that make me want to drink more of it either. The liquor is thick and goes down easy. I am still in my head-space after drinking this tea -tea drunkenness is nil, if there is a body feeling it is very stubble (energy). Wet leaf is pale green/to yellowish in color, many full leaves (something I have come expect with Tea Urchin, though I am not sure how this would have an effect on the ‘quality’ or aging potential…). I have had more going on with cheaper Yunnan Sourcing raw.

I would like to see what some aggressive wet storage does to this tea, as with most raws I suppose the flavors would be accentuated along with an added storage flavor and somatic experience.

Cold brewed overnight after about 8 hot steeps, still no impressionable flavors…

Acquired 30g sample from Teaurchin.com for $13 USD, March 2015.

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annnnd this session was completely different I had shorter steepings which helped the “soapy” taste vanish but the liquor was no longer a darker reddish hue and now it was a deep honey. It didn’t help that I used 3 different types of water (spring, alkaline, filtered tap) in the same session but this time I had none of the dark fruity tastes and mianly just a generic sheng puer slight sweetness.

The only things that have held constant through all steeping of both session is it bubbles every steepings, not tea scum per say but definite bubbles maybe higher sapponin content? and also none of the steepings were ever bitter. Another interesting twist is that I read on yunnan sourcing this area has some “Camellia Taliensis growing in Jing Gu’s red soil has prominent large fat leaves and hairy white buds. Tea from this region is well-known for it’s beautiful appearance, and tea sellers have been know to blend this tea with Yi Wu tea to make it more beautiful and bright in appearance while at the same time bolstering it’s sweetness and thickness.”

so maybe this species has isnt own unique characteristics? and maybe that’s why it’s a cheaper price?

Flavors: Hay, Sweet, warm grass

Preparation
7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Jiāng Luo

very far from a controlled experiment but I think “spring water” has had the best result with tea I just buy the cheap generic jewel 2.5 gal and they seem to taste better than my filtered tap or this extremely expensive “alkaline water”

Stephanie

interesting

mrmopar

If you are overstocked with this let me know I will work a swap to try it.

Jiāng Luo

I only have a few grams left not sure if that’s worth your time

mrmopar

You might be surprised. How much did you end up left over?

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Your what hurts?

Too much confusion drinking this tea. The leaves look very dark and the liqour looked to be from puer at least 3-4 years older??? Every steep baffled me I will have to come back to this one. I can say it was on the dark fruitier end and VERY minerally almost metallic. Strange after every cup my brain couldn’t register anything flavor wise so I slammed cup after cup. I can also be certain it had a Very nice longevity as a result but I would say next time use more leaf but keep flash steepings the whole time longer steeps had a soapy taste. Nice silky feel and thirst quenching rather than throat drying.

?Glad I got a full oz sample no way I can figure this tea out in one go.

Flavors: Mineral, Stonefruits

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Stephanie

Interesting, sounds like a challenge

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Light, no bitterness or astringency what so ever, grassy/sweet hay, slight “grass fed” butter flavor and hint of waffles in the aromatics , lasting flavor and feeling on the outer sides of the tongue.

A great value if lighter grassier teas are your thing not a favorite of mine personally but definitely indicative of older tress from a spring flushing.

Flavors: Brown Toast, Butter, Hay, Sweet, warm grass

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 125 ML
DeliriumsFrogs

Sounds really interesting. :D

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92

This is VERY good! Thanks for the sample Marzipan

Stephanie

Aaaaand Steepster ate most of my note…SIGH

DigniTea

I also enjoyed this one quite a bit. Glad you had a chance to try it.

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I got this sample as a surprise from Stephanie. Thanks so much!

I was really excited because Tea Urchin has been on my list of companies I want to buy from at some point. The shipping is a bit cost prohibitive though. I love their website and their puerh wrappers are awesome!

This tea is very juicy, but not really fruity…more juicy in texture than flavor. It’s also really delicate and floral sweet. There’s a touch of tobacco, but overall it’s very smooth. Very enjoyable. Someday, I will have to take the plunge and order from Tea Urchin!

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Lang He Tea Factory is known for producing fine ripe puerh. Light fermentation which results in it being free of that fishy flavor common in more heavily fermented shu. This is one of the finest Lang He products I have tasted. Clean, smooth and sweet with very high purity of flavor. The 2010 Tea Expo award winner is built upon a foundation of high quality material and it offers high quality flavorful sips through the session. Creamy chocolate notes frequently reveal themselves. This is an easy drinking tea and the moderate price makes it a good candidate for daily drinking. A bit difficult to find for I’ve not seen it listed anywhere except Tea Urchin.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
tea123

I normally find that shu has less complexity that sheng. Did you find that this has more complexity with it being lightly fermented?

DigniTea

I cannot say that this one had more complexity. I agree with your assumption, sheng will yield more complexity due to the natural aging process. I think we’d be hard pressed to find ripes with unusual complexity. That said, this LangHe is a very fine example of quality shu!

MzPriss

I need to dig into my sample of this

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I believe this is my first experience with a Baotang tea. The quality of the material used in this cake is excellent. Baotang is a village in Mengsong township, Menghai. Apparently, in Baotang the trees are large & ancient, growing in biodiverse, organic gardens. Beautiful leaves produce a bright and clear gold tea soup with a crisp vegetal aroma and taste. Pleasant but not impressive at this point. Very soon the leaves open up and begin to produce a much more interesting cup of tea – increasingly thick in the mouth with a nice bitterness that turns into a pleasant lingering sweetness. Moving through five quick steepings, the cups become increasingly mellow and smooth. I was left with a lingering mouthfeel and a good mellow feeling. I like this tea!
Update: Seems to be enjoyable for 6 steepings and after that it fades.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 85 ML
Stephanie

Sounds good to me :D

tea123

I’ve heard a mention of biodoverse before. I’m thinking of buying that one soon.

AllanK

I had a sample of a Tea Urchin tea recently and I thought it excellent. This sounds good too.

DigniTea

I find that I can always count on TU for hi quality productions because they are able to source very fine raw material. I am a big fan.

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drank Nahan 2014 by Tea Urchin
1083 tasting notes

Thanks for the sample Marzipan!

I really enjoyed drinking this tea all day at work. It is definitely my kind of young sheng. Bold, punchy, strong cha qi and nice pleasant bitterness to sweetness balance. Creamy and floral too. The only thing that would have made it more perfect is if it had some fruity notes and a little bit more sweetness. I enjoyed the heck out of it though and would happily drink it again some day!

I had a crazy busy day at work and I’m serious, the tea definitely helped me! I get like a calm energy from sheng sometimes that is super perfect for stressful days at work where I need to be energized but not jittery or overwhelmed. Very centering/balancing :)

DigniTea

This cake is made from high quality material and was probably produced with hope for aging potential. Even as you describe your experience with the tea, it speaks of promise and will likely be a great tea one day. Meanwhile, it sounds as though you had a very interesting session with it. I have a sample myself but I’ll wait 6 months or so before I try it.

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drank Yiwu 2006 Shun Shi by Tea Urchin
1083 tasting notes

I may have reviewed this tea before under a slightly different name. I’m a little confused about it!

ANYWAY a sample of this tea was part of my Christmas gift from Marzipan

Stephanie

Steepster appears to have mangled this one. Alas!

Sil

mangled?

Stephanie

Yeah my note is incomplete…steepster ate a big hunk out of the middle

Sil

OH haha well it doesn’t look mangled at least..

looseTman

Did you share this issue with Jason?

cookies

I had the same issue. I posted about it in the Steepster Bug Thread.

Stephanie

This is the 3rd or 4th note I’ve had this happen to. I’ll email him later when I have time. Thanks guys!

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89
drank Nahan 2014 by Tea Urchin
177 tasting notes

I was a bit nervous drinking such a young sheng as I prefer a tea that isn’t too powerful. The initial two steeps surprised me by being mild and subtle, though with a strong, silky feel in the mouth. There was also a very strong cha qi

The dry leaves were very dark, almost black. Yet the tea was a light straw color. After a few steeps I noticed that the wet leaves are now green.

The power only became apparent later, as the 4th and 5th steeps were very strong and woody. I wound up shortening my steeps, which produced a very approachable tea. The dominant flavor is still wood, but it isn’t overpowering. By the 8th steep, the cha qi and taste are both still quite strong. Wood isn’t my favorite flavor, but this tea is otherwise very much to my taste: it was smooth and flavorful, with reasonable complexity. I suspect it might age well, given the power, but I can’t really predict that.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C

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drank Yiwu 2006 Shun Shi by Tea Urchin
177 tasting notes

This is a very interesting pu. The first steep smells like a shu, but has the amber color of a sheng. The taste is a mix of shu and woody sheng. I’m not a big shu fan, but this is pretty good. The second steep has: less shu flavor; lots of smokiness. Powerful woody flavor. Smooth but very powerful. 4th steep: Moving back towards shu, but balanced on the edge with an aged sheng character as well.

The Tea Urchin web site says that this tea was stored as maocha for 5 years, the pressed and aged, which accounts for the shu flavors. I’m not going to give a numerical rating because I haven’t been enjoying shu lately and this tea leans in that direction, even though the Tea Urchin lists it as a sheng. I suspect that someone who enjoys shu might find this very interesting. I probably wouldn’t buy more, but I’m glad I bought the sample.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C
mrmopar

Very earthy in my tastes as well.

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87
drank Man Sa 2011 Spring by Tea Urchin
177 tasting notes

This tea is apparently no longer available, so I couldn’t post the description or photo from the web site.

Drinking this tea is a bit like taking a long journey. The trip starts out gently, with a mild floral taste, but then becomes woody and astringent (though not at all bitter). Around the 6th steep, a hint of cooked vegetables (peas) appears briefly, but the tea then becomes gentler, with a smooth straw/hay flavor.

I enjoyed all the various tastes, though the first was probably my favorite. I’m still enjoying it, though it’s running out of steam (at the point where my 3 gram sample has produced about 20-25 ounces of tea). My rating is a blend of all the different flavors: the best cup was probably a 91, and the worst about an 85.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C
Cheri

Sounds delicious. Too bad it’s not available anymore.

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81

This tea was somewhat disappointing. First, the “Silver buds” name is largely marketing. There are certainly buds, but not a high percentage (though that may be due to the luck of the sample). It may just be that my palate is not refined enough, but I don’t detect the brown sugar, honey, etc. in the description. I just taste a somewhat bitter wood, with a hint of anise that comes and goes. There is nothing bad about the tea, but it just doesn’t appeal to me.

I won’t pretend to judge the ability of this tea to age, but for everyday drinking, I found it rather ordinary.

I tend to prefer lighter, more elegant sheng, so it is possible that someone who likes more powerful teas would find this to their liking. I steeped at 200 degrees, then tried a session at 185, with similar results.

DigniTea

Sorry to hear that. I’ve not tried this one but generally I’m a big fan of TU products – always found them to be high-grade leaf and quite flavorful.

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84

Another delicious and complex young sheng from TeaUrchin! Lots of floral notes, a little fruit in later steeps…I like Yiwu sheng :D

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98

One of those teas that instantly knocks your socks off and I wasn’t wearing any to begin with. Used a thin walled gaiwan, rinse and 10 minute stroll to feed the birds then steeps of 30/30/30/30/40/40/40/50/50/60/60/70/70/90/115/130/145/160 and so on. Liquor was thick pouring and on the tongue, with flavors starting out floral and then turning sweet. Not a trace of astringency, a slight bitterness but you have to be paying attention. The spent large leaves are all whole and uniform and as I looked in my strainer not a piece of broken leaf to be found. A most amazing tea, will be buying the whole cake next time.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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Ooooooh! Another sample from my Tea Urchin gift from Marzipan :D

I’ve never had a sheng quite like this one before. It reminds me of Silver Needle white, sort of hay like and a little sweet, with a floral shengy vibe, and mousse-like creaminess! I keep thinking of it as flower custard :D

YUM!

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93

Most young sheng is coarse and powerful. This one is elegant. I have trouble calling out specific flavors because the flavors are so well integrated, but straw and wood are obvious, with hints of flowers early and black pepper and anise in later steeps.

There is a lot of cha qi, so I’m getting very relaxed. The first two steeps had very little astringency or acidity, and no bitterness. Later steeps have some acid and astringency, but still only a hint of bitterness. The finish is excellent, and much of the complexity comes via the interaction of the finish with the aroma and taste.

I really like this tea. I have no idea how it will age, but it is really great for drinking right now. I got it as part of the recent Tea Urchin Sampler set.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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