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Recent Tasting Notes
This is really an excellent Yiwu blend. Definitely delivers the quality I’ve come to expect from Tea Urchin. Thick and pretty leaves with an enticingly sweet aroma before water even touched them.
Like most good Yiwu I have had, the flavors of this were sweet and reminiscent of pastry/dessert. Cakey is how I would describe a lot of the really nice Yiwu teas I’ve tried, including this one. Creamy, vanilla, sometimes creme brulee or custard sort of notes. Also a lot of floral notes to it as well – later steeps become more intensely floral, bordering on soapy without getting unpleasant at all. There is a slight bitterness to the tea reminding you that you are in fact sipping a young sheng. The texture is very thick and leaves you wanting more after each sip. Qi is relaxing.
An excellent few sessions from this sample has me wanting a full cake. I think it would be good for many years, judging by other Yiwu cakes I have. I think Tea Urchin may be the source of my next Doomcart!!
Flavors: Cake, Custard, Floral, Sweet, Vanilla
The leaves were surprisingly easy to break apart. I’m VERY BAD at breaking cakes apart but had no difficulty with this. Leaves definitely looked aged.
I did a rinse of about 5 seconds, then did a 5 second first steep. It was a little rough around the edges but was unexpectedly sweet! I read other reviews on this tea and was expecting something more bitter. For some reason I associate cha qui with not yummy tea lol
Second steep is a pleasant surprise of honeyed camphor and slight smokiness. I don’t usually enjoy smokey tea, but this was well balanced.
The next steeps are a bit more savory. I tasted some plum notes as well.
Flavors: Camphor, Honey, Plums, Smoke, Sweet
Very well balanced mixture of spicy, discreet floral, bitter and astringent notes with pleasant stable character and great body. Reminds a bit of the 2012 EoT Baotang, albeit finer, more subtle and with less intensive Qi.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2012-luo-shui-dong-tu
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Heavy, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet
My 50th review! What better way to commemorate this occasion than by drinking some Lao Ban Zhang? My sample consisted of one large intact chunk off of the cake along with a much smaller piece about the size of a large coin and then plenty of loose leaves at the bottom to round off the weight. I ended up using the smaller piece and nearly all of the loose bits to arrive at nine grams for my 130ml gaiwan, not wanting to bother with breaking apart the large chunk. The leaves have a very interesting blueish gray tinge to them when dry. The wet leaves at the end of the session were chiefly intact and the leaves themselves very rugged. The leaf quality is good.
I did my customary five second rinse, sipping the wash while I gave the leaves five minutes to soak up the moisture. Because of the small amount of water and the mostly loose form of the leaves, the rinse was really strong with plenty of body, but I don’t really have anything to say about the taste at this stage. I proceeded to do ten steeps, the timing for these being 5s, 6s, 7s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 75s and 2 min.
The tea started off soft and really oily with a big body. In terms of taste it was light and sweet. While there was slightly more color to the second steep, the tea continued brewing up somewhat cloudy. There wasn’t all that much flavor yet, although a green, astringent edge was starting to introduce itself into the tea.
The texture became quite smooth in the third steep. The flavors continued being very light. There was now clear astringency to the tea which was also accompanied by some bitterness. The fourth steeping actually presented the tea at its cloudiest, although the soup did mostly clear up for the subsequent infusions. By this point the tea had lost most of its body while there was still some oiliness left. It exhibited a clean watery taste with some astringency. A mild, brief huigan could also be observed.
There was finally some more bitterness and astringency in the fifth steep, which transformed into very minor sweetness. The infusion that followed had a soft, smooth, creamy body. The taste was mainly bitter now. This was probably my favorite steep.
The next infusion was a half split between sweet and bitter. I also got an interesting roasted note in this one, along with some cardboard dryness. Steep eight is when LBZ officially entered easy-to-drink mode. The tea was soft and sweet with a satisfying mouthfeel. Interestingly while I did not taste any bitterness upon drinking and swallowing, there was a pleasant bitterness to the aftertaste that I enjoyed. Overall this eighth brew was probably my second favorite. Really nice and something virtually anyone could drink.
The bitterness rejoined the sweetness in the ninth steep in a very pleasing mixture. This along with the prior infusion showcased the tea at its best. The sweetness lingered in a very satisfying way and this was only enhanced by the subtlest of bitterness. Steep ten closed the session. At this point I could clearly notice the tea starting to lose steam and the bitterness had turned from desirable to undesirable, which seemed like a good sign to end the session there.
So how did the King fare? While often pretty good, no Lao Ban Zhang I’ve tried in the past has really been able to hold up to the ridiculous hype and the inflated prices. This tea was no exception. For me the tea didn’t have nearly enough bitterness nor was the sweetness pronounced enough to make up for that. While fairly unremarkable in the early steeps, interestingly the tea was at its best in the late steeps, which I don’t really recall happening with other teas. I expected this tea to brew a lot stronger than it did, especially given the loose form it was in, but instead the strength was very average. Also, whereas the Hai Lang Hao LBZ ripe hit me with a ton of qi, this one did not.
None of this is to say that this is a bad tea. It is still very young, so it may need some more time to start to shine. It could be that these teas are typically preferred to be aged, but I don’t really know what the general consensus is. There are some quality markers that I was able to discern, but overall I’d say that at least for how the tea is right now the price is probably around four times too high. Hardly any tea could live up to the price tag and let’s just say I’ve yet to taste a tea that could.
I have enough tea to revisit this tea again six months from now and again six months after that. I’m curious to see if I’ll notice any development over that span of time. For my tastes it would seem that if I want bitter tea, the neighboring Lao Man’e would serve me better.
Finally on an unrelated note to this tea, I compiled some statistics about the reviews I’ve posted and thought I’d share a couple of quick observations. First off, the split between raw and ripe pu’er is about 2:1, which is where I want it to be. About one third of my reviews are positive recommendations and the distribution is fairly similar for raw and ripe. Again, this is about where I would like it to be. While I didn’t need to look at the statistics to become aware of this, my hit rate with the Yunnan Sourcing brand raw pu’ers is quite good so far, across all price points. Conversely, I’ve yet to encounter a Yunnan Sourcing ripe pu’er pressing that I was particularly impressed with. While the sample size is still too small to say anything definitive, the Crimson Lotus Tea ripe offerings seem to align well with my tastes. Lastly, Hai Lang Hao’s high-end offerings seem generally very good, raw or ripe.
To another fifty reviews!
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Roasted, Sweet
Warm and soft with an intense woody note, beautiful sweetness and subtle bitterness and a slight sourness, which even gives the tea a slight aggressiveness with increasing infusions. Lots of endurance and very beautiful, large leafes – a perfect example of good Bangwei!
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2007-bang-wei-tu
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Sour, Sweet, Wood
Sample from my Secret Santea this year – and very thankful for it :)
I’ve come to expect a certain “cleanliness” from Tea Urchin sheng – I haven’t had a whole ton of their teas, but just about all of them have had that clean feeling going for them. I don’t know if that’s really the right word, but that’s how my brain/taster/body process it. It manifests itself in both taste and body feeling. No off flavors strange sourness that can be common in puerh and no crummy feelings or roughness in the gut. It’s sort of become what I associate TU’s teas with – not that all others seem grubby in comparison, just that these are particularly…pristine?
This one is no different – it has a pretty heavy bitterness which I fully expected going into a Lao Man E tea. That kind of clean bitterness though – not really astringent and didn’t make my mouth feel funny or anything. That bitterness is followed by a nice sweetness, though the bitterness is what leaves the lasting impression in my mouth. Great thickness to the liquid of this tea. I didn’t really pick up on a lot of qi in this session.
Definitely one I would like to order at some point. I really ought to try to pick up more TU this year. Or maybe I should focus on drinking some of the tea I already have. What a crazy idea.
Such a wonderful production. The first time I had it it was over-brewed. When I got a crack at it, it proved to be a most luxurious experience. This is a righteous puer with a personality and depth, decidedly and complexly feminine. Depth. The balance between fragrance and Bulangness might be attributable to when it was picked. I don’t know the details. It’s not bitter, which accounts for reviews that say it is a lighter Bulang, but this is not a light treasure. The fragrance from the gaiwan (gaiwan only this please) is magnificent. The thick, cosmic communications when you hold the broth in your mouth, no words. Then you sense the grounding, not bitter, of Bulang. They, Bulangs, aren’t necessarily bitter, actually, but unwaveringly grounded.
Flash infusions for the first 5 rounds for certain, then, on the next day, for it will certainly give you the business those five, start increasing time from 15s. Very highly recommended.
I believe I pulled this sample out of the Pu TTB last time I had it. The leaves didn’t have a particularly strong aroma either wet or dry – sweet, slightly floral. Green still for sure.
This was an easy drinking one, and not particularly complex, but I found myself impressed with the obvious quality and cleanliness of the tea, as I have been with just about everything I’ve had from TU. The flavor was soft and sweet, mostly floral in character, with some less sweet herbal notes coming in towards the middle of the session. The texture was nicely thick as well. Basically just a good and easy sheng to drink.
Flavors: Floral, Sweet, Thick
I received this tea, generously, from a passionate and inspiring Liquid Proust as an offering to broaden my raw puer vocabulary. I rinsed the tea quickly with boiling water and went to town on an immediately golden yellow tea.On first taste, there’s no astringency or bitterness that I can tell, just a juicy, cheek-clenching sweet and woody flavor. The mellow wood note is at the forefront and the sweetness lingers as a deep plum or stone fruit in the back of the throat.
The later steepings remain tame and tasty, floral and apricot notes definitely stand out now, but I taste no pepper or spice as other tasters have. I count this as a good thing. Having accidentally oversteeped one pot, this tea friend was very forgiving with little added harshness. Savory plum replaces the woodsy flavor, and jasmine with apricot wraps up the end.
This tea was delicious— it reminds me of a crisp fall evening which is quite the accomplishment as we don’t see too much autumn in Florida. I’m thankful to have tried the one; it sets my bar for middle (young?)-aged teas pretty high.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Jasmine, Plums, Stonefruits, Wood
If ever there was a poster child for name recognition driving sales, this tea must be it.
I haven’t the slightest whether this bears any resemblance to a Menghai 8582, and after trying it, I’m certainly not inclined to she’ll out the cash I’d need to in order to find out. Lest you get the wrong impression from this intro, however, I’ll skip to the point – there’s nothing wrong with this tea, but I’ve had similar experiences muxh cheaper from more unknown old cakes that were much cheaper. Tastes like dirt? Check. Easy drinking? Check. Costs 200? That’s a negative, good buddy.
As usual, this could be end user error, improper humidity in the room I drank, the cheap gaiwan I was using, an improper spring water, or probably a half dozen other things – but a similar conclusion was reached by the person I sent a bit of the sample to, so I’m forced to conclude that the reason this price is so (relatively) affordable for what is, is regrettably due to what it is.
I rated this tea highly in the past but was a bit disappointed this time. It’s possible that poor storage is to blame, I have had the foil pack in my closet for a couple of years, and am trying to sip down those older samples.
1st steep (10s): Nice big leaves. Smooth, but very light in flavor. Nice texture in the mouth, and some complexity. 2nd (10s): Better but still understated. No flaws, but still disappointing, However, as I drink the finish is becoming more interesting: very long and powerful with nice spicy flavors. 3rd(10s): Much stronger flavor, with an astringent woodiness. Great finish and I’m feeling the cha qi. Still not much nose. Late steeps were less interesting.
Overall, the tea was very smooth and approachable, but not very powerful. I suspect it might be a good candidate for the “mom test”. I’d been considering buying a cake but decided to pass. My rating of 89 is an average of several sessions, ranging from 91 to 87.
I’m shocked and a bit embarrassed that I haven’t reviewed this tea yet. I’ve certainly had enough of it. I drank it in parallel with the TU 4 Peaks Man Lo E, as i’m planning an order and trying to decide which tea to buy. This one was the winner, though I liked them both.
1st steep (10s): Light nose. Isn’t nearly as strong as the Lo Man E, but the flavor is more fruity. Astringent without being bitter. Very unique flavor is floral and fruity. 2nd (10s): Much more tobacco than fruit. Very astringent without being bitter. 3rd (20s): Mature nose of tobacco with hints of fruit and spice. Taste is a mix of stone fruit, tobacco and some bitterness, especially in the finish. By the 5th steep, the fruit is really obvious. The tea is still very potent (though I’m now up to 40 s steep, which is my usual). The bitterness has given over to sweetness, though the astringency has remained.
Smooth and balanced spicyness with a fresh-bitter aftertaste. Light Qi.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2013-bao-tang-tu
Flavors: Bitter, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet
Fresh and lively with a strong, citrus-like long-lasting bitterness.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2013-lao-man-e-tu
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus
Velvet smooth and slightly spicy with a fresh-bitter note.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2014-nahan-tu
Flavors: Bitter, Smooth, Spicy
Thick and heavy with a heavy honey sweetness.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2015-pa-sha-tu
Flavors: Heavy, Honey, Sweet, Thick
Fresh-spicy,velvet-moss and slight but long-lasting Bitterness.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2015-dark-forest-tu
Flavors: Bitter, Moss, Spicy, Thick
Tea: TTB review: Tea Urchin 2013 Peacock
Prep: 100cc gaiwan, 6g. Longish steep to open her up, flash steep x2, 10s, 10s, 20s, 30s, etc.. Probably 12 steeps before it’s out.
Sessions with this tea: 4
The early steeps are a marine/salty bitterness with a green pepper bite with some returning sweetness. The sweetness then shifts more to the front and is a bit rounder, like the pepper was roasted a little bit. To me there’s still some salty note lingering about. The later steeps get hay-sweet.
Body: thick slurpy tea, very pleasant. Some drying of the roof of the mouth and then returning sweetness with salivation in the throat. Also somewhat cooling. Later steeps are saliva-inducing everywhere in the mouth, with a pleasing lingering after-taste. Energy seemed a bit lacking to me though. I didn’t really feel this much outside of my mouth and neck. Very nice mouthfeel but a little disappointed with the body.
Good blend, enjoyable tea. This is probably something that Westerners, who put a lot more focus on flavor, would really enjoy. Tea Urchin has a sizable catalog and I have been hesitant to begin wading through their teas. I may have to begin that soon, as this is a popular blend they make and it is enjoyable.
Puerh Tea TTB. This is I think a good sheng. It is also a bitter sheng. There was a sweet aftertaste to it though. The bitterness went away after a few steeps, not sure how many. The remaining taste was quite good. I have heard they are out of this one. This is probably for the better because I am not tempted to spend money.
I brewed this twelve times in a 75ml teapot with 5g 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, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 minutes.
Finishing off my sample of this tea. I still love the way the wet leaves have this heavy, fruit scent—kind of like ripe plum or apricot or something along those lines. In the first and second steep, flavors are very low and mellow, with no particular high notes making their way known to me. Generally, it seems people describe this as being more “spiced” as opposed to “floral”, though I’m still not quite sure what that means. It does have a little bit of a spicy note on the uptake (is this just confirmation bias?), and overall it has a very low flavor profile. It’s quite enjoyable! Different from some of the other young sheng I’ve been drinking thus far but I’m quite enjoying this tea as it is.