Tea Urchin

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drank Lao Man E 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
476 tasting notes

Derk sent several extra samples with the Nepal tea box, and while I tasted all of them while recovering, I kept forgetting to type up my tasting notes. So once again, I’m trying to get back into the habit of transferring my tasting notes from my notebook.

97°c/22 seconds, no rinse, cold vessel.
Smell: On leaf, camphor and not much else.
Liquor: Pale yellow.
Taste: Quite light, hint of smoke and vegetable broth.

27 seconds – Liquore more orange. Touch of savouryness to aroma. Taste—brothy, layered smoke, touch of bitterness. Brightness—not quite sour, but makes me salivate.

37 seconds – Pale orange. Juicy, slightly tart and astringent. Brothy, light smoke and very clean. Slight floral notes, but definitely not a focal point.

37 seconds – Slight medicinal/“clean” smell on the nose. Taste has developed a “clean” note as well. Not chlorinated, just fresh—summrey? Floraly, iodine. Savoury, broth. Juicy, subtle smoke continues, but the astringency/bitterness has disipated. Salivating note persists.

42 seconds – Less of the “clean” note. Leaning back into broth. Vegetal, herbaceous, cooked.

60 seconds – “Clean” smell is back. Brothy, but no smoke. The floral notes and iodine becoming more priminent.

Lose track after this steep.

Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Clean, Floral, Iodine, Vegetable Broth

205 °F / 96 °C

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I’ve been pretty nervous about trying this, as it feels larger than life and quite intimidating based on everything I’ve read about it. And just Lao Man E in general — this is my first.

Beautiful leaves, all colors of grey like a dried mushroom party.

Light iodine on the nose, bandaids at the bottom of cup. Already I’m wondering how different my impressions will be from some of the notes I’ve seen earlier. This stuff already has extra years on it! Tastes lightly sweet of grape, undefined floral. Leaves smell herbaceous, with tobacco.

Light mushroom and iodine nose. I like that. Juicy in the mouth; still nebulous floral, like wildflower petals. Herbs still on the leaves… fresh fennel?

I do experience some hui gan, not long-lived. Tastes and nose not changing much, though.
I actually do really like the medicinal/iodine on the nose as I lift the cup, and then the floral, juicy, subtly sweet taste. It’s a really interesting juxtaposition.

Oh, a pass of banana after a lip smack, lol. Remains juicy; there is astringency, but it feels like it dances around in the pockets and just pinpricks the juiciness. No defined swathes of dryness.

6 or 7…?
Some diffuse melon, smoothing out more now. Deeper yellow-orange liquor, where it started more goldenrod.

10th or so infusion?
These later sheng infusions are sometimes so approachable and delightful. That’s happening here. The astringency has subsided, the leaves finally yielding to roundness, smoothness.

My thermos ran out, and I have a cat on my lap, sooo… I’m pausing for now. I can’t say I am experiencing huge cha qi (no dancing, daggit), but I feel at peace with the session (and some relief, finally sitting down with this icon and making it tangible).

Thank you, derk!

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Okay, this was a wonderful gongfu session. Sadly was and not is. Thank you a lot derk, but again, I have no idea ho long I had it in my “cupboard”?

All steeeps, unless second one, were lovely. Lovely balance of astringency/sweet flavours. Why was second one bad one? Well, I oversteeped it. By a lot. I was steeping it for two-three minutes because I just forgot I filled my gaiwan and my brother was asking me something. Stupid human error. But all others were so good.

I am not able to re-write the flavour notes nor aromas, but Togo captures them very well. I will repeat, I really liked the balance. Luckily there was no creeping bitterness, texture was amazing.
What is the best is afterdrinking feeling. It calmed me down, it is not high in caffeine (I have been drinking it in the evening), very relaxing and focusing in same time.

Well done!

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

Ah, one of my favorites. Glad you enjoyed <3

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This tea is progressing along nicely in Aug. 2022. This is from a 30g sample of the tea stored in a drawer of sheng puer in northern coastal California. Early steeps provide a hay like note but one that is “deeper” than young sheng, and has a dark note as well. The tea deepens as the steeps continue, and now on steep 5 in a clay pot a touch of forest and bitterness arises. It tastes good, and has good salivary activity for me. I will keep the rest of the tea and try it again in a few years, although it is quite nice at present.

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March 2022 Sipdown Challenge — A discontinued/otherwise unavailable-for-purchase tea

The strength of this sheng pu’er lies initially in its oily, coating mouthfeel and its energy. Sweet and peaty taste with the apricot of youth now only a bright background tone. Tonuge-numbing bitterness and peatiness increase as the steeps progress but then the throat is greeted by a moderate returning sweetness.

The overall experience, while somewhat deep, is also flat. However, the tea does feel very good in my body and is quite relaxing where I always need it the most in my shoulders and neck. Kind of a dulling of the mind.

The leaf glows and shimmers in shades of brown velvet and the pick is surprisingly robust leaf and bud sets. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for those that like short sessions, the ife is gone after 6 or 7 infusions.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Dates, Eucalyptus, Menthol, Mushrooms, Oily, Peat, Smoke, Sweet, Viscous

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Single session of this tea from derk (thank you!), but so pleasant with first snow outside the window. I mean… it is a first snow and it even stays. I guess we have about two inches of fresh snow. Usually it snows, but melts afterwards. Not this year. And I did not even fell down on the first snow. It’s something!

I came home today and when I was travelling home, I thought about another gongfu session. Something, that will calm me down, warm me up, and keep it simple and cozy.

This tea delivers it. It’s simple and relaxing. I completely get calming and muscle relaxing ability. Weird that tea (and only tea, not a blend) can do it, while other can wake us up and make us buzz. I got several nice steeps, lightly vegetal — green peppers and beans, a bit of grassy and now and then mild astringency. Not sure if I noticed astringency in first sessions (I need to start a steep diary), but for sure, the minerality was there.

As derk said, great for beginners, as it is mellow and it is not hard to steep. On the other hand it can be quite complex for first time pu-erh drinkers and can bring more curiosity to try more and more teas. I do not consider myself as a experienced drinker, but I really liked it for its easy steeping.

Flavors: Astringent, Dry Grass, Green Beans, Green Bell Peppers, Mineral

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

This does sound cozy, Martin!

Martin Bednář

I am glad that it did :)

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drank Ban Pen 2017 Spring by Tea Urchin
1477 tasting notes

Pretty average Menghai sheng pu’er, meaning it lacks definition but still retains the stonefruit character and requisite bitterness (which coms on quite slowly). The other two ‘pure’ BanPen sheng I’ve had are both very different from this and from each other.

This reminds me a lot of King Tea Mall’s 2018 Spring ZiQi sheng, which iss a blend of BanPen (MengHai) and YiWu. Blending can create a tea that might otherwise be lacking. This definitely lasted longer than the ZiQi.

The fully engorged wet leaf sure does look healthy.

Maybe a good step for beginners out of the most basic young sheng.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Creamy, Drying, Floral, Grain, Green Wood, Mint, Moss, Orange Zest, Stonefruit, Straw, Winter Honey, Wood

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drank 1990s Wenshan Baozhong by Tea Urchin
1477 tasting notes

Since I’m ranchsitting and I don’t have internet, phone-tapping over 4G waves it is. I had the vaccine but haven’t noticed an increase to 5G speeds ;) It’s a challenge to express myself with my thumbs. That means more disjointed notes than usual. I hate smart phones.

Mellow and clean aged tea with enough power to engage the senses. Aroma sticks in nose. The winey-redfruity and deeply sweet smells related to the leaf serve as nuances in the brewed tea; they are not the main attraction by any means. Tea thickens as it cools. Mineral after swallow. Warming and cooling camphor. Relax. Drying-creamy osmanthus aftertaste. Something about pungent rinsed leaf aroma reminds me of beer-brewing or wine-making but it’s not yeast. Definitely an aged oolong. If from 90s, I could’ve been anywhere from first to eleventh grade.

I’m hoping Leafhopper can add to this!

Tea Urchin provided this aging beauty with a cake order a few years ago.

Flavors: Buffalo Grass, Camphor, Cherry, Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Drying, Medicinal, Mint, Osmanthus, Plum, Raspberry, Red Fruits, Red Wine, Spices, Straw, Vanilla


Have mercy, I’m old.


What ever are you talking about? hehe
Old is a state of mind.


Why do you think I hang out with 11-year-olds? (They are patient with me and explain all the cool stuff I know nothing about.)


I need to locate my cache of your samples in my tea museum! I haven’t been drinking much tea lately due to a suddenly sensitive tooth (I have a dentist appointment next week), and when I have had tea, it’s been Taiwanese oolong. However, this sounds intriguing.

Evol Ving Ness

Tea museum! Love that phrase. A particularly accurate for many of us, certainly for me. Hope your tooth will be relatively easy and painless to fix.


Hope a visit to the dentist can relieve your woe. Nobody wants tooth problems and hot tea season is ramping up. I’m curious what you think about the tastes in this tea. It was very aroma-driven for me.


Thanks, Derk and Evol Ving Ness. I’ll be happy to have my dental woes taken care of. :) I like aroma-forward teas and am looking forward to this one.

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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.

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

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drank Lao Man E 2013 Spring by Tea Urchin
1477 tasting notes


Clean. Intense sparkling citrusy-pine resin bitters that are at once forward and persistent in the throat. Deep stonefruit and complexity working magic in the background. Sweet aftertaste. Feels good in throat and body. Feels warm. Incense.

Lao Man E has my heart. Maybe Lao Man E could have yours if you opened to it.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bark, Barnyard, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Citrus, Cucumber, Flowers, Incense, Meat, Medicinal, Melon, Mineral, Nuts, Pear, Peat, Pine, Plum, Resin, Straw, Wet Wood


You made me smile. Spring 2013 was a special season. That’s when Tazo adopted us. He’s complex and feels warm too ;)


gmathis: I can’t believe it has bene that long since Tazo wandered into your life! I remember it like it was yesterday!

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drank Bao Tang 2017 Spring by Tea Urchin
1477 tasting notes

I can’t say anything about this sheng pu’er has changed much since my last note nearly a year ago https://steepster.com/derk/posts/415982 but it made for a very enjoyable session after lunch today.

While it still has plenty of youthful astringency, there’s a great balance of sweetness (brown rice syrup), bitterness minerality, florality, returning sweetness and cooling huigan. The mouthfeel and initial thick, oily texture seal the deal. Most importantly, this tea is CLEAN and elicits a calming, muscle-relaxing body feeling even with a full belly.

Going to up my rating as this session left a favorable impression. Not sure how this sheng will hold up in the long haul in my climate. It might be better off subjected to more humid storage. Both Tea Urchin and Matu have likened this to an Yiwu tea; I can agree based on the rich sweetness.

Flavors: Astringent, Beans, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Floral, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Mineral, Mint, Nutmeg, Oily, Orchid, Rice, Rich, Stonefruit, Sweet, Thick, Winter Honey


can i ask you a question out of the tea topic, and also i am kinda asking for help. so basicaly i am struggling to make a profile pic, and since you changed your multiple time, can you pleas tell me how is it done ?

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drank Bao Tang 2017 Spring by Tea Urchin
1477 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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drank Dark Forest 2015 Spring by Tea Urchin
1477 tasting notes

I’ve been coming home for lunch lately and getting as many small pots worth of sheng pu’er in as I can before heading back to work. Not rushing of course. And it’s doing great things for my mood.

This wild Yiwu sheng has certainly changed since last sipped a few summers ago during the throes of Covid social insanity: https://steepster.com/derk/posts/408020

The tea has that unique wild tea taste that I feel I can never put words to. Something like leafy medicine, or maybe yerba maté – high alkaloid content. Long-lasting bitterness moreso in feeling than in taste. This tea has more oomph than some wild sheng and less than others, sitting closer to those with a deeper, more powerful sensation.

Most of the characteristics are still present. The signature-to-me Yiwu date-caramel-honeylike sweetness in aroma and on the sip has gotten deeper but this is not among the sweeter Yiwu teas. Early astringency isn’t bothersome and gives way to light oiliness later. Again, both a clear mind and a comfortable yet energizing feeling that is different from the effects of caffeine alone. My mood was lightened and concentration noticeably sharpened for the second half of the work day.

Where the flavor (and leaf aroma) has made a marked change is in the development of a deepened fruitiness that spans the low to high tones along with some teenage tang. Passionfruit, bright red raspberry, orange and apricot grace the taste. The spicy leaf-and-bark impression is still present, balanced by that mossy airiness. Something I didn’t pick up on last time was cooling eucalyptus. One thing that caught me was that the dry leaf now smells like a specific chocolate bar I sometimes enjoy — Passion Fruit in Ruby Chocolate by Chocolove. The ruby chocolate tastes to me like a combination of a white chocolate and a milk chocolate that lacks strong lactose flavor; throw in a hint of berry fruitiness.

What has mostly disappeared is the initial creamy mouthfeel (which I would hope returns given more aging) and the strong drying quality (which I hope has mostly phased out). The floral quality is also aging out.

I didn’t take any notes today, recalling this entirely from memory. Given the amount I’ve written, I’d say this tea made a very favorable impression. I’ll consider buying a cake when I finally make a damn dent in all my sheng samples :P A handful of years ago, wild teas would almost always leave me reeling from intensity. Seems like I’ve finally grown into that energy <3

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bark, Bitter, Caramel, Chocolate, Dates, Eucalyptus, Fruit Punch, Fruity, Honey, Medicinal, Moss, Oily, Orange, Passion Fruit, Raspberry, Spicy, Tangy, Wet Wood, White Chocolate

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drank Dark Forest 2015 Spring by Tea Urchin
1477 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

Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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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, 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

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

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, though this is probably it: https://puerh-blog.translate.goog/teanotes/2003-simao-spring-toucha-tu?x_tr_sl=de&x_tr_tl=en&_xtrhl=en-US

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

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

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drank Lao Man E 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
903 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

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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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drank Shan Lin Xi 2014 Winter by Tea Urchin
1477 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

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.


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


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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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

Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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.


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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