113 Tasting Notes

96

I can’t overstate the importance of tea urchin’s presence in the current tea landscape. Their shengs possess the most incredible energy and depth of flavor, which bespeaks the care with which the leaves are chosen and crafted into beautiful cakes. Read the reviews on their website; their devotees capture far better than I the intense experience of drinking them.

DigniTea

Agree – two thumbs up for TU!!

TeaBrat

you Steepsterites are a bad influence on me… :)

Charles Thomas Draper

Doug I agree 100 percent.

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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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92

It’s hard to think of a more pleasing sheng. If it were an actor it would probably be Tom Hanks—consistently very good, eminently likeable, almost no bitterness or rancor. It might not be the Daniel Day Lewis of teas, but sometimes all that intensity can be trying.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Garret

We are laughing quite loudly in the tea shop right now as we read and re-read this review. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for that!!!

Doug F

Thank you for this great tea! It’s impossible to mess up and has the perfect mix of sweet and tart flavors.

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drank Shincha Kunpu 2014 by Den's Tea
113 tasting notes

Ah Spring. (Well, if it ever arrive here in Maine).

And this is one of the most anticipated releases of the season. Always amazing, this refined vegetable broth with its dynamic green color and briny base is one of the best teas in the world, IMHO. It’s also an incredible mood-booster, with astronomical amounts of theanine. Scoop it up before it disappears.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

This is always an intriguing tea to me. In many ways it reminds me of a proper Ceylon, but it also features a pronounced blueberry/grape flavor with a hint of coconut. An enticing amalgam and truly a genre-busting tea.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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92

This is almost 10 years old and it’s evolving beautifully into a sweet, creamy tea with some emerging hints of camphor. Delicious!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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90

I have piles of unread books around my house, but will that stop me from buying the new Collected Poems of Derek Walcott today? No. I have scores of albums I’ve downloaded and barely made it beyond track 1. Will that stop me from downloading the new War on Drugs or Future Islands this week? Absolutely not.

My over-stuffed tea cupboard has also suffered from this unbridled acquisitiveness. And it’s keeping me up at night as I pore over all of my teas that are nearing or over the one year mark. So I’ve made a promise to myself to only buy the absolute jewels of my annual tea drinking cycle until I drink down some of my stash: Shincha from Den’s Teas; a first flush darjeeling from Upton and Imperial Mojiang Yunnan tea from Yunnan Sourcing.
So to make room for my spring Darjeelings, I’m drinking a lot of this quality second flush from Sungma that has delicious honeysuckle sweetness,a citrusy vibe and a mild roasted flavor.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
TheTeaFairy

Haha! Love this review. My whole life revolves around books, music and tea, that means lots of compulsive purchases that lead to unread books, unheard music, and teas that are stacking up, waiting to be drunk…love being surrounded by books, love knowing I can choose from over 8000 songs to suit my mood, and love to just be able to drink my most prized tea on a tuesday, for no particular reason…just cause I can!

BTW, The War on Drugs latest album is their best to date, in my humble opinion…just thought I’d mention it :-)

Doug F

That’s pretty much my planetary alignment also, when I’m not being a dad to my two wonderful boys. I agree with your humble opinion, though I did enjoy when Kurt Vile was part of the group.

TheTeaFairy

Aww, two boys, that will keep you busy, I understand the unread books situation even better!

(Yes, I like Kurt Vile too but not such a big fan of his solo work…)

TeaBrat

ha, I suffer from the same affliction when it comes to books (and tea of course)

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90

We’ve all had the experience of seeing a movie that was highly recommended and highly hyped—-American Hustle, for example—and left with a feeling of, I wouldn’t say disappointment, because the movie was enjoyable, but still, you wanted it to be better. After drinking Yezi’s Qing Pin and really liking it, I expected to be seduced by the Gao Shan. The first sips yielded dark chocolate, cherry and tobacco—pleasant but not transfixing. I agree with another reviewer that the cup got better as it cooled, producing a nice red-wine flavor entirely free from bitterness.

Overall, this is a very drinkable, high grade Chinese black, but I prefer the Qing Pin.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

ha, I loved that movie :)

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91

Black Beauty and this Mao Cha are quietly emerging as two of the teas I find myself instinctively reaching for. The Mao Cha reminds me of the smell of a freshly mowed field on a hot summer day—sweet and pungent with a lemony tang. Like a green Ceylon mixed with a newish raw pu-erh.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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91

Such an amazing blend of citrus-flavored green pu-erh leaves-beautiful to look at as they unfurl in my SamaDoyo glass mug, but even better to drink. No trace of bitterness with a thirst-quenching snap! Love it!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Garret

Hi Doug! Thanks for writing up your thoughts on this tea! This particular mao cha is the autumn 2013 picked. Great stuff now, better in 1 year. I just had 500 cakes of this same mao cha pressed into pu’er in China. If you haven’t tried the Wild Monk cake from spring 2012, I recommend it. Our customers are flying through it here, but we still have 200 or so cakes left. Definitely worth the try. You will see differences and similarities between it and what you are sipping right now.

It’s what I drank before and after my 6 mile cold and snowy run this morning. It kept me feeling light and strong!
Grateful,
Garret

Doug F

Hi Garret, I do have the small cake, but I wanted to try it again before writing a review. Maybe this evening after I make my way home in yet another snowstorm.

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Profile

Bio

I love tea and living in a place that is cold or cool nine months of the year, tea is a constant source of warmth and education. I always drink tea straight and rarely drink flavored teas or Tisanes, except for the occasional Rooibos. I’m a proud father of two young boys, an avid skier, motorcyclist, reader, and runner. I have a doctorate in English (dissertation on Emily Dickinson.)

Location

Maine

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