Tea Urchin

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Recent Tasting Notes

Mei Jia Wu Long Jing
2020 Spring
Tea Urchin

3.4g, 250mL, 185f Brita filtered water
dry leaves smell fairly toasty
aroma in warmed gongdaobei (which I am using to brew because my highball glass shattered and I can’t gongfu a green well to save my life) is a tart fruity and also has a dimension eerily similar to artificial matcha flavored snacks

smell of the first brew has a slight floral hint. This brew is a nice light yellow, which is apparently a quality to look for in LJ.

2min 15s: vegetal with a hint of astringency and bitterness that fades into a sweet aftertaste, which unfortunately doesn’t last all too long, and ends leaving the mouth a little dry. Aftertaste definitely doesn’t compare to Tea Drunk’s 2018 LJ I tried earlier this year, even though this is supposed to be 2 years younger, and therefore fresher. Caveat is that this is very much on the cheaper end for LJ, and Tea Drunk is on the insane end. sure TD is true XiHu whatever, whatever. Nonetheless, I do think there’s better things to get if you’ve got the money for TD (not that my opinion matters on this, if you have the money, you can do whatever you want lol).

Later infusions are a bit sweeter, but lose aftertaste. not much else to add here. I’ll admit that I only purchased this since I was ordering a cake from Tea Urchin and I thought I might as well just spend what I’d have spent on the undiscounted cake trying out some of this. Overall, this wasn’t too exciting for what’s offered, even at the discounted price of $5 for 15g (or in my case, multiply that a few extra times). I’ll drink through rest of my order, but this was a gamble that I wish I’d spent on trying out extra puer samples from TU’s collection instead.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 15 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

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76
drank Bao Tang 2017 Spring by Tea Urchin
1005 tasting notes

This sheng is mild and pleasant. The flavors are not strong but the body of the tea is thick with a satisfying swallow. It starts off low-pitched, somewhat mung beany and savory, clean and mineral with a gentle sweetness. Floral-brown sugar aftertaste appears with the first steep and soon a mild minty quality in the throat and chest. Later some bitterness develops as the grassy-vegetal youth of the tea with a hint of astringency expresses itself and a returning sweetness presents. As that fades, it becomes more floral and manages to maintain its thick, softly sweet character until the end.

The energy is noticeable within the first few infusions — calming and I can feel all the muscles in my body relax, not only specific muscle groups. The spent leaf looks great, like most of Tea Urchin’s teas. At this point, I can tell it’s aging albeit slowly with my storage. The liquor is close to a light orange-brown and the wet leaf is generally dark olive with a brown tint.

It’s a gentle tea, one I’d recommend to beginners since it’s easy sipping and doesn’t necessarily need much attention paid to have a satisfying session.

Flavors: Beany, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Mint, Nectar, Nutmeg, Powdered Sugar, Rice, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal, Winter Honey

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90
drank Dark Forest 2015 Spring by Tea Urchin
1005 tasting notes

Wild Yiwu region sheng from the area between Wangong and Bohetang.

Soft honeyed aroma. First steep has a sweetness that spans honey-caramel-brown sugar. Creamy with hints of white chocolate-vanilla, fruity peach-apricot, spicy, bark tannins, mossy-mineral, all supported by a deep and balanced bitterness. Becomes beautifully floral and fruity later with the most vibrant and ringing apricot. Aftertaste presents late with what to me is now a characteristic Yiwu flavor: violet. Warming in the throat, quite drying and that feeling persists and eventually gives way to a dark returning sweetness. Some oily texture in final steeps. Clear mind and very comfortable.

This tea seems simple at first but has a nice depth and longevity to it. It’s very balanced for a young tea. At this time, I find the drying quality the most noticeable detractor but nothing some sips of water in between cups can’t remedy.

Swoon <3

Flavors: Apricot, Bark, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Creamy, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Mineral, Moss, Peach, Spicy, Tannin, Vanilla, Violet, White Chocolate

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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93

Wildflower meadow dry leaf. The heated leaf smelled like a warm, rich spice bread studded with dried sour cherries and drizzled with a thinned caramel. There was also a cleanliness to that aroma. Rinsed leaf smells like antique wood and aged florals.

Let’s talk about the mouthfeel first. Amazing! Thicker than oil — very pectic. Silky smooth, lubricated the whole mouth. Cooling, only lightly drying. Later developed an acidic-enzymatic feeling like unripe pineapple but still managed to retain that special thick body until I called it quits. The longevity of this tea is impressive. I steeped it over the course of 3 days. The only other sheng that I’ve had such accomplished longevity with was Last Thoughts.

This tea is exceptionally clean. I remember it being sweet but didn’t note it as such; more an impression of sweetness. Light caramel-brown sugar flavor, custard-ish, dry grass, green grape skin, high mineral content turned into a bright-toned brew like apricot and the same unripe pineapple that influenced the mouthfeel. Trace bitterness. The second day, this tea was a fantastic cleansing accompaniment to homemade cardamom-heavy pumpkin pie. Fast-moving tannins. I didn’t notice a returning sweetness until this day. The third day, the leaf steeped out still viscous and cooling with lingering fruity and floral flavors.

In terms of body feel and effects, I became very warm and comfortable with the second steep. My vision developed an orange hue, which sometimes happens to me with shou. By the third steep, a spicy burn developed in my ears and the cooling mouthfeel exposed itself as eucalyptus-like in my chest. With the fourth steep, I was so lost in the way this tea was effecting my perception. Get ready for woowoo. I felt menthol in my spine, moving up and sitting in my cerebellum before creeping up and and spreading across the crown of my head, like the unfolded lotus representation of the crown chakra. I lost sense of time in a most natural way. Nothing about this tea made me uncomfortable. It was like a mother’s love as she cradles her babe. Sleep came easily. (Results may vary!)

This was a delight of a sheng and one that relies heavily on mouthfeel. While the tea lacks a bit in the aftertaste and also in some grounding tones, it never takes off too high either. If you want to explore just how naturally thick and smooth a teenage sheng can be, I’d highly recommend getting a sample. The price is right. I have no idea how something like this would age, but it seems to be doing just fine in my 2 years of storage. Tea Urchin has fantastic teas and sadly they don’t seem to get much recognition around here.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Custard, Dried Fruit, Dry Grass, Eucalyptus, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Menthol, Mineral, Pineapple, Smooth, Spices, Spicy, Tannin, Thick, Vanilla, White Grapes

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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Big woody, earthy background with plummy mid and an apricot brightness, aged floral notes. Sweet tastes like caramel and powdered sugar are subdued. Still a touch of vegetal quality. Soft aroma. First steeps are oily and of medium body, lots of mouthwatering. Hint of mineral bitterness emerges in the back after swallow, coming more to the forefront later. Mouth-cooling, some tannic astringency. The aftertaste varies between thinned winter honey and maple butter.

Made it through an entire sample without much of an impression being made. With every session, I found myself taking a long break after the third steep and not feeling compelled to continue. I did persevere, though, and was rewarded with good longevity and a brew that become much more like the thinned honey aftertaste. The low-toned tastes and muscle-relaxing energy were very welcome after a long day, however the tea left my mind clouded rather than cleared.

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Earth, Flowers, Forest Floor, Maple, Mineral, Mint, Plum, Powdered Sugar, Tannin, Vegetal, Winter Honey, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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Breaking into a Simao tuocha raw from Tea Urchin, Spring 2003. The paper has printing and branding but I can’t read it. Received as a freebie when I bought some cakes last year. Haven’t seen it for sale on their site.

The first several cups have been all creamy fluff and whispers and silk. The tea just disappears. Instant mouthfeel association with the 2005 Changtai Yun Pu Zhi Dian from Crimson Lotus. Mellow, aged tonal taste with nuttiness, leather?, apricot with herbs and perfume. A big punch of bitterness disappears quickly after the swallow. Kind of a milky honey huigan. Woody incense smoke and rose perfume aftertaste. Warming before a light minty cooling appears later. Small healthy leaf, lots of buds, more brown than green.

Good freebie, I’m very appreciative :)

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Citrus, Forest Floor, Herbs, Honey, Hot Hay, Leather, Milk, Mint, Nutty, Perfume, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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92
drank Lao Man E 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
660 tasting notes

One of the last teas from the swap with derk became my choice for an evening session as I wait for my yogurt to ferment, after an active day of repotting plants and cycling. Thanks for the sample my friend! Lao Man E is becoming one of my favourite pu’er production areas, and having a variety of examples of that style is great. Moreover, this tea is still available for sale at a very reasonable price! :)

It has got quite a dark orange colored liquor, I’d say this is pretty clearly in the semi-aged category now.

Interestingly, the aspect of this tea that impressed me the least is the aftertaste. There is definitely some huigan, but it’s nothing spectacular. Plus I found the aftertaste to be generally a bit muted and lacking complexity. The other negative, as far as drinking the tea now is concerned, is the fact that it gets astringent already around steep 5, and by the tenth infusion the astringency is pretty damn strong. One would expect that this will improve with aging and as a result, the longevity should get better too.

Now, with that being said, this was a very enjoyable session nonetheless. The aromas are unexpectedly pungent and complex, which I find to be quite rare in teas around 6 years of age. Taste is not overly complex, but it’s definitely a profile I like a lot. Liquor texture is interesting too and quite unusual – being buttery yet foamy, and super light yet full-bodied. And of course, the cha qi is amazing. The energy this tea is creeping, disorienting and extremely calming, without being aggressive or rushy. I haven’t had a proper gong fu session with the W2T’s Pin, but this tea made me dance for real, derk (see music pairing).

As for the particular tasting notes, I could smell cookies, grass compost, and a light, clean smoke from the wet leaves; and some flowery scents in the empty cha hai. Early infusions possess a light bitterness, but it’s not abrasive at all. In fact, I would say these are much more sweet than bitter, which changes a bit later on, but without throwing off the balance too much. There are flavours of courgette, citrus fruits, toast, and brown sugar. Around steep 6, more sourness akin to yogurt develops, alongside grapefruit bitterness that’s increasingly present. In the eighth infusion, I got a distinctive tangerine note too. Throughout the session, light medicinal notes keep appearing, which may or may not be a sign of aging being decently fast. The aftertaste also has a sort of apple flavour going on.

Music pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMAyGBnVktE

Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Biting, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Citrus, Citrus Fruits, Compost, Cookie, Cut Grass, Floral, Grapefruit, Medicinal, Smoke, Sour, Sweet, Toast, Yogurt, Zucchini

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
derk

Glad you enjoyed this one and that it made you dance :)

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81

This tea starts very interesting. There is a sweet aroma of pine wood and resin rising from the leaves that’s very invigorating. I also immediately notice the smooth colloidal texture that becomes quite bubbly in the coming infusions. The taste, although not too complex, is nice too. I get strong notes of wood, grains such as rye, croissants and light honey. Overall, it is a sweet drink which even intensifies in the aftertaste that’s also somewhat drying and slightly more sour and bitter.

The middle of the session is characterized by a more savoury profile with a sunflower oil flavour. Progressively, the later steeps get a bit boring though and the session end on a little underwhelming note. Thanks for the sample derk :)

Flavors: Butter, Drying, Grain, Grass Seed, Olive Oil, Pastries, Pine, Resin, Rye, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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80

Today, I felt like having some Yi Wu in the evening and I found this one in among the samples I received from derk, still largely untouched. This also happens to be the first tea by Tea Urchin that I had tried.

Opening the pouch greets me with a pungent sweet and fruity aroma of apricot and flowers. In the preheated pot, it is similar, but more mineral. The smell of the wet leaves is very different. It is complex with a strong gasoline note and a mossy character. Throughout the session I also pick up a distinctive yeast aroma.

The taste is initially a mix of fruity flavours with some dry grass and a dry white wine with a caramel-like finish. The sweetness is very noticeable, but somewhat muted and not overpowering. From 3rd steep onward, there is a floral bitterness present and a honey like fragrance emerges. Around infusion five, I notice further notes of cream and vanilla.

The aftertaste is not that flavourful, but the liquor induces a long lasting cooling feeling in the back of my mouth, which is probably the most memorable aspect of the tea. In the second half of the session there is a significant drying effect too and the aftertaste has a metallic character with a flavour close to a slightly unripe peach.

Mouthfeel is not very distinctive overall. On the other hand, the cha qi hits almost immediately, although doesn’t persist for too long. It is a very heady and defocusing like feeling. Later on, I get more of a chest warming and comforting feel from the tea.

Definitely not a bad tea at all and I have enjoyed this session (while I watched Pulp Fiction for the first time). However, I have a hunch that the profile of Man Zhuan teas is not quite for me. Apart from not being crazy about the flavour profile, I also found this particular tea to be too fragrance focused for my liking and lacking as far as the texture and aftertaste are concerned.

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Caramel, Dry Grass, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Forest Floor, Fruity, Metallic, Mineral, Moss, Peach, Sweet, White Wine

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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89
drank Shan Lin Xi 2014 Winter by Tea Urchin
1005 tasting notes

What I would give to have tried this tea when it was fresher. Tea Urchin, or whoever they acquired it from, must have stored it flawlessly because this green oolong with over 4 years of age has held up really well.

So far, I’ve steeped this gongfu with short steeps in a teapot and also western style. I really love the nuances of Taiwanese oolong when prepared gongfu, so my praises will be geared toward that method.

I wasn’t expecting such a forward dry leaf aroma from a 2014 tea but I was greeted with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, along with brown sugar, cream, apple, light creamy white florals and roasted pear. The aroma of the dry leaf matched that of the wet leaf and liquor throughout all steeps, evocative of… nevermind, I don’t know what but my room was a pocket of sweet spice, flowers, fruit and cream.

One of my housemates was acting neurotic today so I decided to share my gongfu session with her while she was spilling her life story to some poor Chevy dealership worker over the phone. I interrupted her with “Smell this, drink this,” thinking the calmness that often follows a high mountain oolong session would help her chill out. She stayed on the phone and never really savored it, pretty much slamming an empty tiny tea cup down within 5 seconds of me setting in on the glass table. Well, she did offer a few comments like “That first sip made my tongue tingle!” and “Oooh I really like this, thanks for sharing. I think it’s working.”

Moving on. The taste offered much the same as the aroma, with baking spices, florals like narcissus and creamy lily, brown sugar, a very light vegetal quality, green oolong grassiness, tingling minerals and later some green banana/banana leaf and lightly creamy, sweet lemon. Full mouthfeel with light salivation. The finish was moderate with those tropical fruit notes I delight in finding in some high mountain oolong: a mix of creamy passionfruit, guava and lychee that just stole my widdle tea heart. I didn’t notice the sugarcane returning sweetness and some slight mouth-cooling until late in the session. Those qualities were delayed compared to other teas of this style. One thing to note is I started off the session with a 200F rinse, which I drank, with no undesirable qualities, so I bumped it up to boiling for the entire session and it still performed excellently.

As a green oolong of this age, I can’t fault it for much. It was a little heavy on the high and low note fragrance and taste while lacking a bit in the midtones. That creamy tropical fruit aftertaste was a treat and probably would’ve been even stronger when fresh. The longevity of the tea was lacking a bit as well but dang that aroma.

Thanks for the few sample bags, Tea Urchin! I hope to see some more, maybe fresher, Shan Lin Xi oolong offered in the future.

Flavors: Apple, Banana, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Cream, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Grass, Guava, Lemon, Lychee, Mineral, Narcissus, Nutmeg, Passion Fruit, Pear, Spices, Sugarcane, Tropical, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Mastress Alita

Those sound like lovely smells for a room. I just tried making chai “stove-top” style for the first time, but I’m the biggest fail of a cook ever so I should’ve known it would go wrong. I stuck the lid on the pan then went to set the timer on my computer in the other room, immediately heard fizzing sounds in the kitchen, ran back to see the pot had boiled over, and now my kitchen just smells strongly of burnt chai.

derk

Gotta watch that milk. Like making rice in a pot.

derk

Short addition from a gongfu session with the mechanic: “Flowers, cinnamon, cream, thick. Would you like to learn how to do the samba?” as he played his Brazilian tambourine (pandeiro).

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I am normally pretty into Man Zhuan teas, so I was excited to try this one from TU when I got it. The dry leaf smells like a flowering meadow. After a rinse, it still had some floral and hay notes, but was more reminiscent of stewed greens. This one varied pretty considerably between different steeps and sessions.

In the first couple steeps, it was generally a bit sharp or sour on the tip of my tongue – I think that’s some of the last vestiges of some youthful astringency holding on. The finish was sweet with a woody-hay finish. Thick in the mouth, with the sweetness being somewhat reminiscent of vanilla or cream. One one occasion, I noted a distinct ripe peach aftertaste, but I couldn’t replicate it – must have managed to accidentally steep it for the perfect amount of time for that to come out or something. A tasty tea for sure, and I think it will probably age quite well.

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83

Soft, sweet aroma. Tastes begin moderately sweet with honeyed apricot and hay tones, modest orchid bouquet, almost juicy with salivation. Light bitterness and astringency in the first handful of steeps fade away and hints of butter, wood and caramel come in. A pleasant returning sweetness emerges midway. Orange, brothy liquor is cooling in the mouth and body and produces a satisfying swallow — a bit of heaviness to the body. The tea maintains its moderately sweet quality for over 12 steeps before hinting at its final fade.

The energy is non-interfering… unless drank in the evening. I found myself awake at 4am after a 7pm session but I wasn’t mad about it since the wakefulness was smooth and collected. This tea seems like a good one to start in the morning at your desk and drink throughout the day, given its smooth stimulation and longevity. For the price, I’d say it’s a nice sheng with some age on it, currently selling for $0.19/g.

My housemate had a cup of it last night in the early steeps and commented on how smooth it was. She’s a tea drinker but had never tried pu before.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Caramel, Hay, Honey, Orchid, Smooth, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
gmathis

Mmmm…hay and honey instead of ice and sludge…sounds lovely! (Spring IS coming, right?)

So Keta

Oh this sounds delicious. I’m a sucker for anything with apricot notes.

derk

gmathis, the nice thing about tea is it’s a relief from the icy sludge and daily drudge. Have any spring-themed teas in queue to wake you up a little?

So Keta: the apricot is more like a general tone not a precise note. It’s a pretty cheap sheng and worth a shot if you don’t mind paying for shipping from China.

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The vendor states that this is identical to 1998 Menghai 8582. While I have never had the real thing, I cannot imagine anyone paying $800+ for this tea. I did find it to be in line with other teas in its price range for fake teas with this amount of age. I’ve had better teas that were less and lesser teas that were more expensive. Now about this tea. My only gripe is that I only got 8 steeps. At almost 21 years of age I expect at least a dozen. The flavor is nice and indicative of clean dry storage. I get notes of cedar and the classic New England root soda Moxie, without the sugar. People either love or hate Moxie as it is bitter and earthy. If you are a fan of Moxie (especially the old recipe before it got too sweet) try this tea. This tea also has nice muscle relaxing qi, sorta similar to 2005 Naka by W2T but not as intense…

Natethesnake

Ok so I recently sampled a real 8582 from late 90s and remembered I had a small chunk of this left….the verdict? No comparison. The real thing had much more depth of flavor and huigan not to mention deeper qi. For this price one can get early 2000s teas from various areas that smoke this tea…after drinking the last pot of this I came to the conclusion that I musta been tea drunk on something else when I wrote my original review…

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60

For a GeDeng rather light and with a woodiness that makes me think more of Bangwei. Even if the tea is not too heavy, the woodiness is accompanied by subtle vanilla and apricot notes, which make it quite interesting.

Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2015-ge-deng-tu

Flavors: Apricot, Orchid, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Pa Sha 2015 Spring by Tea Urchin
485 tasting notes

Dry leaves smell mostly of greens, some brown sugar sweetness, and floral notes. After a rinse, I got a lot of green veggie notes, reminding me most of asparagus, and sticky tree sap. The first couple steeps were rather light, with some citrusy notes along with crisp green vegetal notes of spinach or snap peas, along with a buttery thickness. As the session went, the greens got a little bit more bitter/astringent, but that was not a prominent feature of this tea. The huigan was mildly sweet, but was more refreshingly crisp to me – kind of like a dry wine. An interesting and complex tea, and one that I’m fairly certain I didn’t fully get a feel for from just the sample.

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96
drank Lao Man E 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
1005 tasting notes

Clean energy, happy, calm and numbing vibrancy. The longevity on this one is coming around, the astringency is leaving and the returning sweetness has bared itself fully. The flavor is rounder, the sweetness is balanced with the bitterness. If there is one thing to knock this sheng, despite having a general sweet aftertaste, it’s that the aftertaste lacks definition. But that could just be my oolong-and-black-tea-loving self talking.

The bitterness — the bitterness makes up for that, though. The bitterness feels in suspension in small particles within the thick and sweet body. Each particle penetrates my tongue and braces the whole mouth. It’s a unique and special feeling that arrests my entire being. I take pause.

If there is a common theme among my most coveted teas, it’s that we simply sit with each other.

tea-sipper

The last line is especially great. :D

derk

It’s a good feeling to find a tea that so seamlessly blends with one’s constitution :)

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96
drank Lao Man E 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
1005 tasting notes

Additional note with a different preparation — this time stewed in my thermos instead of gongfu.

The good news is I still adore this tea when it has been stewing for several hours in water initially boiling. I vaguely remember reading on Tea Urchin’s website some reviewer mentioning a mucous-like consistency. I definitely picked up on that when the leaf was stewed vs my normal gongfu prep. It wasn’t off-putting at all but it did take me by surprise. The tea was bold with flavor and aroma and had a nice milky caramel sweetness to it with substantial bitterness. The florality of the tea really came out with this method. Subdued in comparison to the main flavors and the texture but waved a nice hello. I was in good spirits and a smiling fool sipping on this tea throughout the work day.

Big, fuzzy undersided leaf with fatty stems.

[5g, 20oz, 212F, sipped on for 6 hours]

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 5 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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96
drank Lao Man E 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
1005 tasting notes

I don’t even know where to start with this one, my first from Tea Urchin. Had this Lao Man E sheng puerh during a lengthy homework session and ended up stopping homework to revel in the beauty of this beast.

This sample came in beautiful thin sheets off the cake. The dry leaf is gorgeous and velvety, shades of beige, grey, brown, auburn, black. Very little broken material. Smells soft, woody and nutty. Warming the leaf brings forward aromas of powdered sugar, tangy fruit, buttery mango. The rinsed leaf aroma is woody, fruity, creamy like frosting, mango butter, apricot preserves. Drank rinse. Color of apple juice, oily, slides around mouth. Sweet like marshmallow? powdered sugar? Very clean.

Softly yet deeply sweet and bitter. Like a swirl, not layers. Hints of milk, slight tartness on sides of tongue and salivary glands. Instant chills like White2Tea’s 2015 Pin but not as electrifying or intense. The hair-raising effect is much softer and rounder, more feminine I guess. Had to put on music, started with “Ooh Child” by the Five Stairsteps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrotsEzgEpg No idea where I went from there but I picked up the dog and sang and danced with her for a long while. Lots of laughing and smiling.

Third steep has some toffee in the mix. Fourth steep WHOA. Fifth, here comes the returning sweetness and deep calm. Liquor is dark red orange now. Sixth steep, watermelon like Tea Urchin mentions. Fruity candy tones. Oversteeped the seventh but still bittersweet, now with sour grapefruit tones. Eighth is vegetal, tart, some astringency that creates rough texture on tongue. Ninth milky and grapefruit sweet-tart but full-bodied that carries through for several more steeps. Ends still oily and thick with a buttery, nutty sweetness.

Spent leaf is amber-green, lots of whole, robust bud and leaf sets with fuzzy undersides. Looks just as good as the dry leaf though I do notice a little char on a few of the leaves.

Ok, I realize my notes are all over the place; sorry if there is confusion but this tea was dynamic and the energy was just incredible. I’ll have to come back to this Lao Man E with a bigger picture review of this tea. I’ll definitely be purchasing a cake of this to age.

Initial rating: 94+

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Kawaii433

I love that song. <3 Listening to it, it’s been a while. I put this on my wishlist for sometime in the future… When my inventory gets under control.

derk

Hit me up in a year :P and I’ll send you enough for a few sessions.

Kawaii433

ahahahahahaha oh man… #Truth

lizwykys

I love your descriptions; this was like a sensory rollercoaster! ♥++++ for dancing with doggo, and the Five Stairsteps.

mrmopar

And an underrated group for sure..

derk

Thanks, lizwykys. This tea is in its adolescent stage, so it’s kind of all over the place but it’s like a well adjusted teenager who is a star student. She’s in the National Honor Society,Model UN and debate team, plays in the band in the fall and runs track in the spring, goes to parties and lets loose but doesn’t drink and makes sure to call her grandmother every week. And she smells good.

mrmopar, I’ll have to go through my housemate’s record collection and see if she has one of their records.

mrmopar

Lots of good groups from that area. I wander around YouTube quite a bit some days looking for the older groups….

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2014 must’ve been an exceptional year for sheng (especially for those who love floral top notes) bc some of the best teas I’ve sampled are from this year. The Mu shu cha from YS and the Gedeng from Pu’er-sk being the biggest standouts. Being a fan of WanGong village teas I had to try this. Glad I did. If you are familiar with Scottish heather honey, subtract the sugar and leave the floral aromatics and you get this tea. Nice huigan, a bit of cooling. Warming smiley qi that makes this snowy Pennsylvania day feel like early spring. I’ve sampled several manzhuan teas this year and to my palate, this tea tastes very similar only much better.

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drank Bao Tang 2017 Spring by Tea Urchin
485 tasting notes

A random sample in my last TU order! This Bao Tang reminds me pretty strongly of Yiwu in character, with a relatively soft and sweet flavor. There’s scarcely any youthful astringency to this tea. The sweetness is mostly vegetal and floral, not really leaning towards the cakey/vanilla sweetness that can be present in some Yiwu. The texture is where this tea really shone for me. It’s oily and thick both in the mouth and down the throat. True to TU’s description, there is a bit of a cooling sensation in the finish of this tea.

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drank Yi Zhan Chun 2012 by Tea Urchin
28 tasting notes

Definitely “rich, smooth and mellow”. Super duper clean. Very balanced. No fishy, musty or camphor which are all things I avoid in a ripe. Unlike another reviewer I did not find this tea to be too strong and also didn’t notice any coffee flavors. This tea has all the flavors I like in a ripe like dark fruits, chocolate, warmer woods, sweetness etc but none of these flavors stands out particularly stronger than others and the tea doesn’t demand too much attention in order to enjoy. These qualities, along with the $.15/gram price and the obvious high quality and cleanliness, make this tea a perfect daily drinker for my particular taste buds.

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drank Ma Hei 2015 Spring by Tea Urchin
28 tasting notes

Drinking 6.5g of this right now in my trusty 100ml porcelain xishi. Quick rinse. First steep tea is still opening up. Second ok. At the third steep this tea starts to give up some well rounded mellow mids and some really nice thick mouthfeel somewhere between soupy and oily. Nice mellow calming energy too. Fourth steep some balanced astringency and an almost barely just perceptible bitterness, mouthfeel really nice, feelin pretty glowy and liquidy. Fifth pretty similar except maybe a tad bit more astringency which is still balanced. Empty tummy is feelin good right now too. Sixth, bitterness developing slightly and also there is a tantalizing hint of sweetness got my attention. Seven, definitely getting some sweetness now but probably could have pushed this steep a bit more as the mouthfeel is a bit lighter.

Up to this point I would say that the session has been very comfortable and warm. Nice gentle progression. Empty tummy still feeling great and and also feeling warm and glowy but now with a bit more energy and lighter feeling in head. Went through 500ml water so far and now leaves are going in 500ml thermos with 100C water for at least half an hour. I’ll check back in here later.

So over an hr in thermos this tea is pouring pretty dark. Could have pushed tea more during first half of session. Enjoying it a lot though as I really like strong tea and greatly enjoy bitterness. I’m finding that the sweetness, bitterness and minerality are doing an amazing dance together as the tea moves past my palate and through my throat. They are all three very present and taking turns singing their spiralling song on my tast buds but none shouting over the others. Light astringency and very present dynamic huigan.

Ok Tea Urchin you have my attention. I’ve been enjoying your samples and look forward to trying more of your teas.

Preparation
6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Reviewing in 2018, courtesy of phi!
Dry leaf is like sugar, spice, and fresh fruits. On rinse there’s…a vegetal note but its like a low note?
Steep 1: the lid is like powdered sugar donuts. The tea itself is bitter which gives way to an awesome sweet fruit taste and is THICK :)
By steep 2: the lightness and bitterness stepped aside for some musty type flavors but not aged flavors…just more low notes.
Steep 3-5 were…uneventful. The tea died…
And On steep 6 it actually did come back to life as phi’s review reads (had not read it before I tasted the tea). It is now sweet, strong, thick, complex with a great huigan. Unfortunately it is also very astringent. Not a tea I’d personally order but those of you who can actually handle astringency should probably get on this.

Flavors: Bitter, Fruity, Musty, Powdered Sugar, Spices

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drank Bulang Chun Xiang 2016 by Tea Urchin
286 tasting notes

This is a Tea Urchin house ripe. It is a very nice tea, though not my style as it is fairly smokey, which I do not like. It is a very smooth tea and seems like good quality. If you like Xiaguan ripes, I think you would enjoy this one.

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