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Recent Tasting Notes
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’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.
Sampling this from Liquid Proust’s Sheng Olympiad. This is the middle child of the three bang dong samples received, and though it was a little while ago that I tried the others, I will hopefully be able to make a judgement on where this stands.
The dry leaves smell of apricot. After a rinse, the fruity smell comes out strongly, headlined by a note of sour plum. The first steep comes out super light with a thick viscosity but not much flavor yet. There isn’t bitterness, but a smooth sweetness.
The second tweet brings out a little bit more flavor. I’m still noticing the strong viscosity, as well as an overall roundness and sweetness that makes this tea quite enjoyable. The profile is centered around its strong mid notes, a mouth filling body and an upfront bitterness that lingers into the aftertaste. There’s a little bit of a sharp, high note bitterness, but no particular fruit note stands out to me.
It’s quite enjoyable! From what I’ve read, this is actually a fairly high ticket price tea. Others have described it as having a spiced element to it, though I can’t say I’m familiar enough to comment on it. I can definitely attest to the creaminess, though, as this tea pushes quite a strong viscosity as far as I can tell.
Got a decent sized sample with the Sheng Olympiad. Brewed the whole thing in one go, zisha teapot. Small leaves, slight whiff of more humid storage than what I can do here, evident in the browning already on the leaves. Liquor more amber than is usual for barely close to five years old.
Some light bitterness and medium thickness, more on the spicy end than floral. Pleasant drinker with decent storage. I understand this was a pricey tea but not premium price. I can easily drink this but it’s not strong enough a sheng for me in terms of caffeine and bitterness. If it didn’t say spring I would guess this to be an autumn tea. After about eight steeps I felt like the tea needs coaxing and longer steep times.
Received a sample of this in Liquid Proust’s 2017 Sheng Olympiad. This is my second session with this tea as I had a generous 12g sample bag. I enjoyed my previous session with this tea and remember thinking that it definitely stands above the other Bang Dong samples in the package. Dry leaf has a typical young sheng clean apricot and grassy smell. Thrown into a dry, hot gaiwan, the aroma is similar, but more pronounced and fuller.
The color of the rinse is a pale yellow trending towards orange, not unexpected for the age of this tea. The gaiwan lid smells of spiced apricot, a bit more nuanced than the younger shengs I typically drink in the $.10-$.15/g price range.
The first steep brews up about the same as the rinse, perhaps a little darker. There’s a bit of cloudiness in the liquor. The taste is very soft and mellow with a pleasant lingering apricot aftertaste in the back of the mouth.
Steep number two is darker still and I can tell I’m getting close to reaching the juicy center of this tea. The fruity sweet taste is still there, but it’s now joined by a creamy vegetal note and increasing thickness. The vegetal flavor is, to me, reminiscent of white2tea’s Poundcake.
I let the third steep go on a little longer to see what happens when I push this tea a bit. It’s still sweet and getting thicker, but a pleasant bitterness has appeared.
By the fourth steep, the cloudiness has cleared up almost completely. The sweet creamy vegetable taste begins to overtake the apricot up front but the apricot is as present as ever in the aftertaste. This is, in my opinion, a rather dynamic tea. It’s something I look for as it adds interest to a session.
The fifth steep, at about 35 seconds, continues the trend of the vegetal, green taste overshadowing the soft apricot. We’re not at the stewed greens stage yet, but I can tell we’ll probably get there in time.
The leaves have just about fully opened at this point and the young green flavor has built up substantially. There’s some astringency creeping in and the bitterness has remained at a nice, manageable level. The qi is relaxing – not something I’d want to drink first thing in the morning.
For the back half of this tea, I’m bumping up the temperature to see what else I can get out of the leaves. At 205F, I’m getting more astringency and bitterness, but also sweetness. With quick back-to-back steeps, my face is feeling numb and my body’s warming up. This tea just keeps going. The color has been consistent since steep three and the flavor refuses to drop off.
After about 12 steeps, the aforementioned green sheng flavor is still quite present and doesn’t show any signs of changing.
This is a really agreeable tea. Approachable for puer newbies and enjoyable for vets. There’s something for everyone here, but it comes at a price. This cake looks to be sold out as of January 2017, but at $.44/g, it’s on the expensive side. Would I buy a whole cake? Probably not. Would I drink a whole cake? Yep!
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Green, Spices, Thick, Vegetal
I got this sample from Liquid Proust a long time ago – I was surprised to see this tea was still in stock at Tea Urchin. I remember trying the 2011 Bang Wei and being impressed with the powerful qi it boasted, so I was going into this session expecting something similar. The dry leaves had a strong and sweet aroma – I would probably say tobacco-y as well. After a rinse, they smelled more vegetal, like cucumber with a strong zing to it.
The tea opened up with a crisp and slightly vegetal taste, followed by a straw finish. As the tea started to open up a bit more, it became much more reminiscent of hay in the front of the sip, with a bit of pine and some fruit in the aftertaste. As the session went on, the flavors deepened and intensified – the hay note in front of the sip became very sweet and intense, and the finish was almost milky and floral. I had a bit of a hard time putting my finger on all the different flavors which were swimming around in this one.
The qi was predictably strong. Around the third or fourth steep, I started to feel a bit of a buzzing in my head, which quickly spread to my throat, chest, and shoulders. More of a tea high than a mellow tea-drunk to this one. It actually got a little bit too intense at one point and I had to give this tea a break and grab a bite to eat. It made me feel sort of light and nauseous – but it was bizarre, as I felt the nausea more in my throat than in my stomach where I’d normally associate that feeling. I must say, it was slightly unpleasant – seems like a tea you might want to enjoy in lower doses than normal sheng parameters, or just make sure you’ve eaten recently enough that it won’t upset your stomach. I still have a small amount of this left, so maybe I’ll try in a little gaiwan with a lighter ratio.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Hay, Pine, Straw
Brewed in a zisha pot. Very deep herbal tones. Lighter flavor on the first brew then expected. Second brew- much thicker body, a lot more bitterness. Some florality but mostly herbal with a slight lemon zest tone. Nutty hints. 3&4 brew – decent cooling, decent mouth feel. All around this has been very soft and light on flavor but medium textured with decent finish/mouth characteristics. 5th brew, soft and sweet – good cooling in the back of the throat, nice lingering sweetness, all around soft, sweet, and subtle, nuanced but not exactly what you expect from a spring bang dong cake. All of the usual floral and fruit notes are quite soft. Quality seems to be there, but this is a very soft and round take on bang dong. looking forward to trying it again w/ a heavier leafing and seeing how that goes. however, I enjoyed the more forward and flavorful YS bang dong’s. probably my least favorite bang dong of the 2017 sheng olympics.
Freaking unbelievable! I have to agree with LP on many facets of this tea. The entire session is SMOOTH, almost silky! I waited 3 months for this tea to arrive(God I hate China Post) and now can confirm that it was worth it. The aroma of the dry leaves is so intense and sweet. Truly unlike most puerh on the market. I love how Tea Urchin kept this in maocha form as you can really appreciate the beauty of the full, thick leaves. The first couple steeps are quite light but already show a fantastic huigan and oilyness. Not to mention an unsurprisingly strong sweetness. The bitterness shows up in the middle steeps(definitely not overpowering) but fades quickly. It adds more to the texture and mouthfeel than anything else. I am really starting to notice that grape skin texture that LP mentioned. Moving on to my favorite part of this tea: the Qi! Holy shiiit this tea is STRONG. By steep #2 I was heating up. I can feel this heaviness in my chest. I’m on steep # 4 right now and am most definitely gettin tea wasted. It’s more of a motivating energy for me as oppose to the relaxing, stoned feeling from the 05 Naka. I couldn’t be happier with this purchase and seriously guys if you have the funds go buy a sample! Yes it’s expensive but having access to a tea of this quality from the mystical Lao Ban Zhang is a rarity to so the least.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, White Grapes
This tea is very ugly. However, we do not drink beauty pagent winners so into the pot she goes. The leaf is incredibly compressed with strong notes of bitter greens, oak, parchment, and slightly sweet raisan-y tobacco tang. I warmed my pot up and tossed the rock inside. I nice sauna yielded some intense tobacco scents along with melon, apricot, and a sweet/spicy medley. I washed the leaf twice and began my boil. The taste is very nice and sweet. The leaf opens up, and I get some brown sugar in the forefront with a nectar sugarcane aftertaste. The ta progresses with sweet corn, tobacco, and fruitiness in the cup. The huigan is beautiful and lasting; I am really enjoying this brew. The body is amazingly full, and the flavors continue to be complex and transfer about. The next steeping move into a wood base with the familiar intense sugarcane aftertaste. The qi begins with a steady flow of energy that emits a calm focused power. The last steeping jump over to hay and peat moss with an undertone of daffodils. This tea is superb, and I should probably get more of it. I can’t stress enough to not judge a tea by its appearance. I’ve noticed that some of the ugliest are the best!
Flavors: Apricot, Brown Sugar, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Melon, Nectar, Oak wood, Peat Moss, Raisins, Sugarcane, Sweet, Wood