Wednesday, June 30, 2021

2011 Bing Dao Bing Dao Tea Refining Co.: Comparison of Western Bing Dao

The following unpublished notes are from about a year and a half ago…

This 2011 Bing Dao Bing Dao Tea Refining Co goes for $ 252.00for 500g Qing Bing or $0.50/g.  This factory is actually quite famous and, although relatively unknown in western tea circles, is kind of to Bing Dao as Chen Sheng Hao is to Lao Ban Zhang.  The price seems quite low for this factory and production and my experience with this cake also confirms this.   I think the best years of Bing Dao productions that I’ve tied are: 2009 & 2011 are notably considered better than 2008 & 2012 with 2010 somewhere in between here.  Not sure if I’ve tried enough to say clearly but that’s where I am so far…

Dry leaves are quite subdued compared to the 2010 Yong Chun of yesterday.  These leaves are not that fragrant just a bit vegetal with a faint long icing surgar sweetness.  The leaf compression is also very different with these ones being stone pressed and visually the leaves look less humidly stored and the others a significant tighter compression with a bit more humidity to the leaves but not significantly.

First infusion has a very vibrant peachy sunny fruity sweetness.  There is a nice apparent cleanness of this drier storage and the peach taste rides into the distance with a low and long cooling underneath and some mild but full vegetal green in the distance.  The mouthfeeling is slippery stone and the throatfeel feels deep.  There is this faint deep mild stimulating astringency that is almost unnoticeable now but pushes a creamy sweetness through the profile.  The taste is really good.  The colour of the liquor is very close to the 2010 Yong Chun even though this one tastes much more dry stored.

The second infusion has a pungent cool right off the start that can be felt in the nose. The pungent movement that is slightly cooling mixes with the vibrancy of this puerh there is vegetal mild but full base and a vibrantly sweet creamy taste that is full of aromatic high notes of florals and fruits.  The mouthfeel is quite stimulating and full but mild and the throatfeeling is deep.  The Qi is nicely relaxing and the breathing slows and Heart slows down and you can feel the palpitation in the body.  Very nice. This tea is quite nice.

The third infusion has a thick fruity onset with pungent coolness throughout.  The thickness of the taste and layered fruity and floral and especially thick creamy sweetness is excellent.  The mouthfeel is thick and sticky and the mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are very nice and give the strong sweet, cooling tastes lots of depth.  There is a touch of sour initially but its quite faint and there is this super faint creamy expansive astringency that adds depth as well.

The fourth infusion pours out a thick syrup sweetness of fruit and almost wildflower the coolness dives into the thick and pulls it along.  There is a long aftertaste and thick mouthfeel and deep throatfeel presentation.  There is a bit of bitter astringency here but it is lost in the thick sweetness and long deep coolness.  The Qi pushes me into a deep stoned spaciness a strong high and my chest feels split open and my body and mind seem to separate and pause.  The Qi is very good.  There is a minutes long aftertaste of pear and pineapples and dense creaminess. 

The fifth infusion has a thick fruity presentation with a coolness riding strong in the background.  The pronounced coolness, thickness, very sweet fruitiness, full mouthfeeling and deep throatfeeling with intense Qi and bodyfeel make this a very excellent and complete Bing Dao for me.  This puerh is of good value for this reason alone.  The thickness of the initial fruits creates an unswayable depth that doesn’t fade even minutes later.  There is this interesting high sweet almost green tea and floral sweet pop that happens minutes later in the back of the throat.  Very nice.

The sixth infusion has a more diverse very sweet fruitiness and creamy sweetness to it.  There is pear, pineapple, dragon fruit, tangerine, and a creamy type of sweetness.  There is starting to be more astringency that comes out here too in an almost woody nuance.  The throat feeling is very deep and the coolness comes at the onset and stretches throughout.

The seventh is thick sweet and a bit of woody astringency along with deep long cooling.  The peachy thick sweetness is very nice and flanked by a very stereotypical long deep coolness.  The mouthfeeling is losing a bit but the throat remains deeply opened.

The eighth infusion has a peachy thick fruity and less astringent woody taste to it.  There is a touch of coco that comes out of a mild bitter sweet taste in there as well.  The creamy sweetness is long and intermingles with coolness long into the aftertaste.  The Qi is powerful and typical of high quality Bing Dao and pushes me into a stoned state.

The ninth infusion has a more bitter sweet astringent presence to it which results in a lovely dark chocolate nuance.  There is a thick sweetness underneath and full chalky mouthfeeling.  The thick fruity sweetness and creamier sweetness is still a significant presence.

The 10th has a juicy fruity onset with lighter pungency and a nice significant coco taste without much bitter astringency here.  The dark coco taste is long and satisfying.  The Qi gives me a nice stoned feeling.   The mouthfeeling is thining out a touch and is more a chalky fullness now.  The throatfeeling is medium deep.

The 11th and 12th are juicy peach to start with a creamy sweet under belly that is paired with cooling pungency and a coco finish.  The mouthfeeling is a chalky slight tightness and the throat is mildly simulated and open to a mid-deep level.  The coco taste is now long and even can be found minutes later.  Semi aged Bing Dao tends to develop some of these bitter sweet coco notes. The Qi is really felt in the chest and makes me feel stoned.

13th and 14th have a peachy pear onset and the liquor is thinning out considerably.  There is a sunny bright vibrancy in these steeps.  There is also a slight mineral edge to the infusions now.  A long cooling moves with the sweet tastes through the aftertaste of sweetness.

The 15th has a bit of bitter astringency that has a woody and even coco suggestion with the sweet fruity, floral, and especially creamy sweet riding low along with a cool pungency.  The Qi is more relaxing stoner now.

The 16th I long steep it and out comes more florals and thicker feeling of woody and sweet honey fruits.  The mouthfeeling and deep throat are reestablished here.

The 17th is a good 20 min steeping and the result is thick viscus fruits and low and long cooling underneath.  It also pushes a strong stoner euphoria out of these leaves.

The 18th another long one with a similarly strong effect.  The stamina and strength is solid in this one too.

I think this one completely flew under the radar for the following reasons:

1-      Tea Urchin doesn’t market any more.  No slick marketing machine or social media presence = no one pays attention.

2-      There is no description or tasting notes on the website unlike most other puerh on their site which leads you to believe that maybe its not as good.  This is kind of what I thought about this one.

3-      There are no reviews of this puerh out there none on the site, or steepster, or blogs, nothing- besides Shah8’s and I thinkeven he underrated this one a bit especially considering that he reviewed it 3years ago and the price is still the same.

4-      The 500g cake size is daunting and if you are not sampling to buy then sometimes people will just skip it altogether.


Pictured Left to Right: 2010, 2011, 2016

I drank the 2010 Yung Chun Bing Dao and 2016 Yunnan Sourcing Bing Dao Lao Zhai before and after this cake to compare them and then put them all in an overnight steeping. 

The overnight steeping of the 2010 Yong Chun is the most interesting, the leaves are a bit darker and much more tightly rolled and traditionally processed than the other two.  It is more processed in the older school factory style and you can see some chopped leaves in the mix as well.  There is still some delicious tropical fruity nuances that play out here with a long sweet creaminess and forest vegetal with a long cooling pineapple and creamy sweet aftertaste.  There is still a bunch of bitterness that presents as dark coco and adds a lot of depth.  I guess I steep the other two out for much longer so there is much less but this to me at least speaks to the durability of the 2010 Yong Chun which had a significantly more bitter and astringent profile.  I like this one but its just not “Bing Dao” enough for me to pay the premium on this one but it serves as a great counterpoint to the other modern produced bingdao compared here.

This 2011 Bingdao Refining Co. Bing Dao was mainly mineral, alkaline, forest almost stone like,  it still has a nice thickness to the mouthfeel though and some coolness and very very almost not there sweetness.

The 2016 Yunnan Sourcing Lao Zhai Bing Dao is the least exciting of the bunch with a more flat in taste with a somewhat fruity finish.  The mouthfeel is chalkier here and nice mango fruit can be found in there.  The leaves for this one are much larger than the other two and much looser compression is obvious with a more typical gushu presentation with long stems on the leaves.

In a general sense you can compare them this way:

For me the classic Bing Dao profile which is of good quality has the following: Long obvious coolness throughout profile and often comes at start of profile not just at the returning sweetness, Light everescent fruit creamy sweetness, thickness of taste and a subtle vegetal forest mineral base, some mild coco like bitterness and a bit of astringency that comes out with aging, and a pronounced Stoner Qi effect.

This tea basically has all these qualities for me the thickness and Qi are particularity strong and they are also what I value most.

And so this is the one that I ended up caking out of the group of samples ….


(Ended up drinking up the last of these samples a few weeks before publishing this old post and the 2010 Yong Chun is aging much better in taste than the 2011 Refining Co but it still is not Bing Dao enough for me to consider purchase at that price.)

*I think this is the last of these Tea Urchin posts until I dig and find some more*



Tuesday, June 29, 2021

2010 Bing Dao Yong Chun: Nice Traditional Bing Dao

Tea Urchin just listed a few of these a year or so ago.  I purchased a sample but the 2010 Bing Dao Yong Chun cake goes for $209.00 for 357g cake or $0.59/g.

Dry leaves smell of floral grassy lightness very sweet light and subtle.  A faint grassy candy floss and sweet floral odour.  Almost like ice creamy sweatness in a rainforest nuance slight vegetal nuance.

The first infusion has a nice dry stored peachy colour liquor with a creamy sweet vegetal approach initial.  The taste is simple in this first infusion of slight creamy vegetal forest with a sweet icing sugar candy finish.  The taste has a very mild candy even peach fruit finish.  A sweet and soft delicate presentation initially with a mild sticky mouthfeeling.

The second infusion becomes a bit stickier and very mildly astringent with vegetal forest note being the most dominant with some soft and subtle icing surgar and peachy candy in the finish.  The mouthfeel is nicely stimulating but the taste is quite simple and very subtle, sweet, and light.  The aftertaste is a very smooth very sweet long cooling with creamy, peachy, and icing sugar sweetnessess.  The Qi is relaxing and slows me down in this busy morning.

The third has an astringent obviously almost sour peach onset with vegetal underneath.  The initial burst of astringency and sweetness is strong and fast and moves slowly to a long cooling peach and icing sugar and creamy sweetness.  The Qi is relaxing and slowing, forcibly mellow.

The fourth infusion onset of stone mineral, astringent pear, and vegetal subtle bitter.  It comes as a quick burst then fades into pear, icing sugar, mild coolness, icing sugar in a long subtle aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is slippery and astringent in the mouth and the throat is mildly stimulated at the upper.  The Qi in nicely relaxing.

The fifth infusion has a quick burst of flavours fresh leaves turning to autumn, minerals, metallic, peach, moderate astringency and a bit bitter which turns to a pear like finish, slightly cooling with icing sugar, slight creaminess, The mouthfeel is a slippery almost puckering astringency.  The Qi is a nice mellow and relaxing in the mind.  I feel a calm from this puerh.

The sixth opens up with thick fruity notes, slight sour astringency, a long icing sugar cool finish.  The mouthfeel is long and slight puckering.  The Qi has a mild floating sensation.

The seventh infusion has a thick fruity sweet onset with faint vegetal bitter and some sour astringency mild and quick moving into a long fruity, icing surgar cooling sweetness.  The tastes are simple and consistent but the profile is nice and long and pops quick then ends slow.  This is a nice floating feeling to the Qi not in the body but the mind.

The eighth infusion starts of sour fruit less astringency and even less bitter then moves slowly and strongly to a pear icing sugar and almost vegetal returning sweetness.  There is a nice clarity to this puerh and the profile is long but simple.  The mouthfeeling becomes more of a mild slippery not that astringent quality now.

The 10th infusion is a nice peachy onset with some mineral, vegetal, the sour, astringency, and bitter are less.  There is a long creamy sweetness here.

11th starts off with sour peachy fruit with a mineral and vegitaliness faintly underneath the bitter and astringency is very very mild here.  There is a long pear and cooling sensation.

12th has a sour pear and peach onset with slight vegitalness underneath the mouthfeel in these infusions are slippery and not really astringent.  This puerh doesn’t have a deep throat feeling or stimulation as soon as the astringency and bitter fall off.  The result is a aftertaste that is less long and flavourful.  The Qi is mild now.  A Chill relaxing feeling.

13th has a sour sweet onset that comes fast and fades to a slightly cooling kind of vegetal astringency with a slight sweet fruit note.  The mouthfeel is becoming less complex here.

14th a bit woody, some fruity, and a bit woody astringency with less long sweetness now.

15th starts with a woody peachy astringency, still a nice long subtle coolness in the aftertaste.  Peach notes on a vegetal base with slight creamy edges.

I long steep the 16th and 17th infusions and it pushes out some bitter astringency some fruit but a nice deep pungent cooliness and stimulating throatfeeling.

Vs 2016 YS this 2010 Yong Chun is traditionally processed and has a lot more astringency and bitter which do it well but doesn’t give it as much elegance as YS.  I think interesting aspects of the YS might age out somewhat anyways.  Similar price, I think the 2010 Bing Dao Yong Chun will age better but I like the 2016 Yunnan Sourcing Bing Dao because it has way more interesting depth at 4 years of age.  The gushu modern processing and especially the Kunming Dry storage is making this one shine now.   I guess the fact that I didn’t really consider a purchase on either says, to me that these are nice Bing Dao, enjoyable for sure, but you are really just paying the premium for the Bing Dao name.  These aren’t spectacular Bing Dao puerh so you are kind of just paying for the name of a famous area for a puerh that is pretty good, Ok… very good but maybe a little bit overpriced for what you are getting but still enjoyable.  You are essentially paying for the name Bing Dao but overall nice traditional processed Bing Dao. It’s temping… you can read how I slowly talk my way down from this one…. Hahaha


2011 Legend of Puer Da Xue Shan: A thin Veil…

2011 Legend of Puer Da Xue Shan: A thin Veil…

I purchased this sample a while ago from Tea Urchin and just tried it this spring.  This 2011 Legend of Puer Da XueShan (Snow Mountain) goes for $64.00 for 200g or $0.32/g.

The dry leaves smell of vegetal dry leaf… nothing too exciting here.

The first infusion has a mild dry woody almost but not that mint-pungency with a faint distant floral.  The mouthfeeling is empty a faint moss on the tongue and the throatfeeling is slightly opening in the upper- mid throat with a dry sandy-sticky feeling in the mouth.  There is a candy faint aftertaste minutes later and some mild mouthwatering effect.

The second has a nice floral and candy onset over a mild mossy mouthfeeling that evolves into something stickier.  There is a very subtle vegetal and coolness but mainly this is just a long floral coolness in the mouth.  It then expands for minutes in the mouth.  Nice long perfume floral and candy with not much other tastes to restrict or complicate these nice top notes.  The mouthfeeling is interesting as it thickens in the mouth as the flavor expands.  Nice dry storage on this cake.

The 3rd has a floral vegetal sweet perfume onset with and expanding candy floral finish.  This puerh has really light pure flavours that really expand in the mouth with little base flavours to distract from the single estate high-noted feeling.  The mouthfeeling continues to thicken as you swallow.  Nice dry storage allows for nice expanding and very long candy and floral initial, mid, throat, then aftertaste.  There is a mid-throat opening and very long profile.  The Qi is very subtle and focusing in the mind and clear in the body.

The fourth has a very incense perfume onset with a vegetal and candy finish.  The mouthfeeling is more dry sticky and the long uninterrupted candy and floral nuances are slightly muted by these other notes.  There is a bit of astringency now with a slight drying pucker with no more saliva producing effects. The Qi is really soft and almost light in the body and focusing relaxing mind.  Very harmonious Qi.

5th is a vegetal syrupy floral woody onset.  There is a subtle sour taste that pops with the initial tastes and moves fast.  There is a subtle cool throat then some candy expands on the breath.  The mouthfeel is soft and sticky the mid-throat opens a bit.

6th has a vegetal sweet syrupy floral taste there is a candy like sweetness that emerges and returns with a faint cool subtle throat opening.  Nice soft mossy coating.  Slight focusing mind Qi.

7th is much the same with a subtle incense note and much longer pronounced candy taste that is long on the breath.

8th has a floral perfume onset with a touch of vegetal underneath there is faint very faint woodiness and the mouthfeel is a bit puckering and dry with a bit more astringency to this infusion.  The few infusions with more astringency, although subtle, also have a tighter pucker mouthfeeling and less candy and sweetness throughout.  These infusions can also be felt on the empty stomach.  Qi is really mild in the body with a focused mind.

9th has a woody floral kind of watery onset with some vegetal slight rubber that comes up.  There is a faint deep throat cooling then a returning faint candy taste.

10th has a juicier fruity sweet onset of mango, with a slight floral and slight tart nuance to it.  The sweet mango tastes is long in the profile and stretches onto the breath.  The mouthfeeling is soft and mossy with a mid-deep open throat feeling and focused Qi feeling.

11th has a woody, flat almost bitter-astringent floral fruit. The mouthfeeling is a bit more gripping.  There is a slight puckering mouthfeeling with a more pronounced cooling in the throat.  Nice focusing Qi.

12th is a cooled cup and more of an orange peel taste comes up initially with subtle sweet and fainter bitter note that returns as a candy-like coolness on the breath.  Focusing Qi.

13th I add 10seconds to the flash infusion and let it cool down… the results is a faint fruity almost woody bland taste with very little returning sweetness.

I go to the mug steepings and start pushing this one hard…

It is pretty much spent now with a bit of bland woody, slight earthy incense.

This is a really pure and simple but still refined offering of Da Xue Shan from a producer know for its smooth puer - Legends of Puer.  It offers a clean and pure highnoted floral sweetness and a nice long cooling candy finish.  The Qi is unimposing and harmonious.  The dry storage on this sample has done these qualities well.  Very nice in its pure simplicity very easy to drink.


Monday, June 28, 2021

2014 Tea Urchin Lao Man E: Vibrantly Energetic LaoManE Blend

I sampled this 2014 Tea Urchin Lao Man E that goes for$82.00 for 200g cake or $0.41/g this month and ended up caking it.  I wanted to compare to the 2013 but forgot to order that sample in my last order.  The 2012 Tea Urchin Lao Man E sold out quickly when it was released.  The 2011 is a favorite of mine and the 2013 is also highly regarded.  The 2011 and 2012 are sweet Lao Man E whereas the 2013 & 2014 are blended sweet and bitter varietals.  The 2011 I tired is very nice gushu quality.. Okay lets…

Dry leaves smell of faint fruity distant almost grapefruity woody notes.

The first infusion has a nice creamy pie like or bread like peachy note it is long and goes deep into the throat and aftertaste.  Very yummy and hints at how good this is going to be.  This is one very nice very long very deep sweet note.  The mouthfeel is a soft fluffy feeling.  The Qi has immediate effect.

The second infusion has a very very mild bitter woody peachy pie onset.  The peach note is really long in the mouth.  Very very long… there is only the faintest of bitterness here.  It has that soft fluffy tongue feeling a deep throat coolness but the flavor is consistently bready peachy pie woody clear pure single note.  The Qi races the Heart a bit and focuses the mind.  You can really feel it in the chest.

The third infusion has a very fruity peachy onset that is very creamy and custard like not any woodiness now just clear, pure sweet flavor notes.  A fluffy soft tongue coating acts as a landing pad for a strong saliva push and along with the deep-mid throat sensation.  The flavor is long and pure and starts on the tongue then travels into the deeper throat, then expands on the returning saliva then stretches into the breath.  The experience is very nice with really no bitterness which is surprising to me.  I would say the bitterness is so faint its just enough to add depth.  The taste is particularly exceptional and the mouth/throat/textures are top notch.  The Qi is heart racing and euphoric.

The fourth infusion has a strong blast of fruity tastes with only a mild quick moving bitterness that comes off as a bitter-sweet coco.  The bitterness is a touch stronger here but only a mild-moderate.  Nice mouth, throat, saliva producing.  The increase bitterness comes also with increased viscosity.  The coco tastes stretch into the aftertaste enweaving with peach pie.  The heart racing is strong and so is the euphoria.

The fifth infusion has a strong juicy fruitiness with a pop of moderate bitterness that presents as bitter coco and peachy sort of woody taste.  The mouthfeeling and texture of this puerh is exceptional.  Thick pudding like feeling saliva with deep cool throat and a slightly full tighter tongue coating.  I sweat from the strong energy of the tea.  The heart races and I shift into euphoria.

The 6th infusion has a soupy almost herbal pungent bitterness with a peachy and melon rind like taste.  There is a creamy sweetness that emerges as the mild bitterness recedes there is still lots of bread-like custard tastes but the fruity taste is more complex- peachy, melon, dragonfruit, yellow melon.  The mouthfeeling, holds with still lots of returning saliva.  Lots of heart pounding Qi with a vigorous energy and a bit of euphoria now.

The 7th has a thick fruity bitter coco taste with a long mild bitterness that mainly presents as chocolate amongst the fruity thick and creamy bready tastes.  The mouthfeel has gotten fuller as the bitterness slowly increases throughout the infusions.  The power is strong with this one.

The 8th infusion has a bitter coco onset with layers of fruity nuance that are brought out with the bitterness.  There is a deep cool throat and coco bitter layers.  There is a strong mouthwatering effect as well.  The bitter sweet taste is long in the mouth.  The power is strong in the body even with some face tingling but the energy is comforting and warm in the body.

The 9th infusion has a fruity coco mild bitter onset with an oily presenting liquor with deep faint cool throat and saliva returning.  The Qi has lots of punchy energy in the mind while being very comfortable in the body.  The mouthfeel is starting to end sandy now.

The 10th infusion has a very fruity bitter coco taste.  The cool throat is definitely more pronounced here with a longer creamier coco in the aftertaste.  The bitterness slowly gets stronger but not that bad.. I would say a moderate bitterness now.

The 11th is a silky almost fruity bitter coco taste.  As the session progresses the bitterness becomes more pronounced but so does the long deep throat cooling effect.  There is still lots of oily texture and saliva returning.  Great heart beating Qi.

Running out of time in my day to savour this beauty, I dump it in a mug and grandpa steep the wet leaves out… The bitterness of the warm mug is moderate-high bitterness with a coco taste and subtle sweet fruit.  The soaked leaves the next day are really nice- sweet melon, subtle spicy pungency with a pumpkin and coco taste. 

Overall, this is a great Lao Man E puerh with high points of very good texture, returning saliva, mouthfeeling, deep throat pungency, strong energetic Qi.  The complex interplay of the sweet material with the more bitter slowly revealing itself throughout the session is the real beauty of this Lao Man E blend which adds a certain complexity and intrigue to it.  Admittedly, it’s not of the same higher quality Gushu leaves of the 2011 Tea Urchin Lao Man E production but the blend makes up for its lack of singular quality.  Liked this one enough to cake it but I’m still left wondering about the 2013 Tea Urchin Lao Man E…

Steepster Tasting Notes

Joe's (Shizen) Tasting Notes


2013 Tea Urchin Yiwu Snake Blend: Don’t Mention it!

This 2013 Tea Urchin Yiwu Snake Blend goes for $129.00 for 357g cake or $0.36/g (I tried my purchased sample a few weeks ago) is quite a popular blend but no one is too crazy about it and everyone seems to mix the positives with the negatives so I wanted to see what this one is about for myself…

Dry leaves have a sweet woody radish pond smell to them.

First infusion has a metallic woody pondy taste initially then fades to very faint coolness in the throat over a soft fluffy faint tongue coating.

The second infusion has a pondy woody metallic savory taste up front which kind of just fades into a mid-throat coolness.  There is a meat like savory taste in the aftertaste that comes up. Sticky mouthfeeling.  There is some orange and other faint fruity tastes that appear far in the distance when the liquor is left to cool.  The Qi is relaxing and soothes the body with an obviously limb relaxing bodyfeeling.

The third infusion has an oily thick initial presentation with a woody savory corn and hay and metal and woody tastes.  Lots of layered and unique savory tastes with a mild sweet finish.  The cooled cup is more creamy sweet, chalky, mineral, vegetal with a cool mid-throat.  The Qi is pretty strong in the mind and body with a strong sedating and spacy effect.  The mouthfeel has a full soft sticky almost tight tongue.  A strong and obvious gushu feeling but not really very sweet.

The fourth infusion has a sour savory taste of metal, woody, sour fruit, with a cool mid throat finish with a very mild sweet returning on the breath over a mild-moderate thick sticky almost drying tongue.  The Qi is pretty strong and has a body relaxing, levitating, and bit a bit of chest opening.

The fifth infusion starts a sour savory wood with a more creaminess sweetness emerging now.  A more candy like finish is left on the breath.  The mouthcoat is a soft mild stickiness.  The aftertaste is mild but long in the throat.  The Qi is nice and I can feel it in the limbs and face and my mind is strongly relaxed but happily active.

The sixth infusion has a woody, almost metal but berry fruity taste that is a balance between savory, sweet, bland, and sour tastes with a preference toward savory with a very faint cool pungent.  There is lots of complexity of taste veggies, woods, metals, pungency, candy, fruits….  The cool cup has a longer candy sweetness more typical of Yiwu in it.

The seventh infusion has a nice sweet berry with eucalyptus and dry wood.  There is a lot of complexity of tastes in this blend.   The gushu quality is really obvious.  This infusion has a heavy oily body with strong Qi and thick dense cottony mouthfeeling on the tongue with mid-deep to deep throat cooling.

The eighth infusion has a thick sweet cotton taste to it.  The cool cup has a rich thickness to it layers of woody, malt, metal, fruity, candy like sweet finish to it.  Nice thick mouthcoating and Qi.  There is lots of candy sweetness lingering in the mouth.  A warm feeling washes over me.

The ninth infusion has a sweet grain taste with a malty fruity with a metallic woody pungent aftertaste.  The long candy sweetness can be felt minutes later.  Very nice.  The Qi is really nice relaxing and euphoric complex Qi presentation.  I like it.

The 10th is a creamy flat woody metallic fruity tasting savory bland and kind of sweet mash up of unique tastes.  There is some cool mid throat and a more woody finish.  Very nice complex Qi in body and mind.

The 11th I return to the next day but the liquor is more muted after a night in the tea pot…

It has a silky vegetal woody almost slow faint coco aftertaste with some mild throat cooling.

The 12th has a stronger vegetal woody almost faint creamy returning coco.  The taste is very flat vegetal overall now with some faint complexity of metal, woody, almost spicy.

The 13th has a metallic sour fruity woody almost bitter mushroom with a creamy almost cooc finish.  This infusion has a lot more power and bitterness with some faint complexity underneath.  The mouthfeeling is more sandy and tight and dry now.

The 14th infusion has a bitter vegetal onset with a dry woody metallic finish.  There is not really any sweetness left and the throat feeling and cooling pungency is gone so I push to long infusions…

They are quite bitter and sour fruit with a flat grain and coco finish.  Some complexity hidden under the bitter…

This is mainly a savory, strong Qi, gushu experience with nice complexity due to the blend.  A bit different but I like the change of pace.  It’s a bit chaotic at times and not as sweet as savory but unique and interesting.  One thing that this Gushu sample made me think was how the quality/ age of the puerh that is offered at Tea Urchin has declined over the years.  This is not really suprising because of the dramatic price increases over these years but you simply can’t get what you used to.  Also there are only a few times on their site and tea description where Tea Urchin specifically mentions tree age- this is one such instance which is also interesting.  Haven’t caked it yet and is more of an amusement for me but could easily be an expensive drinker or something to enjoy deeply as well for this price.

James’ (TeaDB) Tasting notes from Drinking Report

Steepster Tasting notes

Cody’s (The Oolong Drunk) Tasting Notes


Sunday, June 27, 2021

2013 Tea Urchin Wan Gong vs 2013 Biyun Hao Mahei & Tea Urchin Wangong Comparison

(I sampled this one this month as I tried to get through some Tea Urchin samples before the price increase)

This 2013 Tea Urchin Wan Gong goes for $182.00 for 357g cake or $0.51/g.

Dry leaves smell of complex sweet odours.  There is a woody odour where subtle fruity smells start to linger with a honey orchid odour.

The first infusion has a watery woody pungent warming spice floral taste to it that turns into a woody honey like taste.  There is a very soft mouthfeeling but a very deep throat coolness where a honey and restrained floral note lingers in the mouth.  There is a lot of oily saliva that appears on the tongue as the aftertaste fades.

The second infusion has a strong honey woody warm spice onset with nice honey like taste.  There is a rice note as well as a floral note that plays with flavours there.  A complex sweetness plays out and the tongue becomes slick with saliva.  The Qi is spacey and I can feel a flow down the arms making them feel heavy.  There is a heavy chest sensation as well here.

The third infusion has a incence warming spice onset with a honey like floral woody development in the mouth with oily saliva tongue.  I am left wondering if I have ever felt this oily tongue saliva feeling in the mouth before and I’m unsure if I have.  The effect is more of a Baohetang or Yi Shan Mo which I wonder if it was blended in.  The effect works brilliantly here.  Long floral taste plays out in the mouth.  The Qi is really quite strong and spaces me out, beats my Heart strongly, has a heavy body feeling and powerful alerting to the mind.  The effect is strong.

The fourth infusion has incense and floral notes transform into a rich woody honey sweetness with thick oily tongue coating.  The tongue is very wet and oily and the throat is deep and pungent.  The Qi is overwhelming and transformative.  There is no astringency or bitterness but the tea is very complex and thick and engaging.  The energy flow in the body is strong and the mind escapes…

The fifth infusion has an incense onset with a very floral finish there is a berry fruity finish as well.  Nice thick saliva oily tongue and deep cool throat.  With strong bodyfeeling and Qi. 

The sixth is left to cool and gives off a thick syrupy berry oily and very viscus feeling.  There is a thick oil in the mouth and tongue where floral, berries, sugar, and wood.  The taste is kind of jam like.  The Qi in the body and mind is very strong.  Transcendent with very distinct and strong bodyfeeling of heavy limbs, face, chest, energy flow surge.  The deep cool throat and thick oily mouth only add to the effect.

The seventh infusion has a black tea note onset with oily saliva wet tongue with a strong berry taste coming from it along with a deep cool throat.  Very strong body and mind feeling has me levitating across the room and I break into a sweet.  Long candy cool throat faint aftertaste almost perfume.

The 8th infusion is left to cool.  It gives off a woody cool pungent with a slippery oily coating there is some berry notes.  The active period for this tea is pretty short.  It kind of comes all at once then recides.

The 9th is much the same eventhough it is hot with berry woody notes kind of floral nuance the mouthfeeling is becoming a bit sandy and less oily and slick but its presence is still big.  The Qi is less strong but still exerts a strong effect on the body and mind.

10th is a 20second steeping… has a woody berry cool oily taste with a wet tongue coating and deep subtle cool throat.  Spacy transcendent Qi here.

11th I long steep again for 30 seconds… it has a tobacco leaf almost berry woody taste to it with oily tongue coating.  Tingling tongue coating effect.

12th infusion is at a minute or two infusion time and gives off a thick woody berry tobacco leaf oily textured.  Spaced out Qi with flowing body energy.

Mug steeping of the spent leaves are bitter coco, berry fruity, and tobacco leaf, slight woody, with still a very oily mouthfeeling and deep faint cool throat.  Big Qi pounds the Heart, overwhelms the spirit, energy shoots from the limbs… oh baby!

Overall, this one is obvious Wangong but it has some interesting other stuff in there… can I say that it is Bing Dao and Lao Ban Zhang like the vendor site says? No I can’t say for sure but what is in there is deliberately Qi heavy and kind of compounds and balances the effect of Wangong energy.  Also the thickness and oily feeling is more like Yi Shan Mo or Bao He Tang than 100% Wangong which boarder the territory and are famous in their own right.  Wangong does have a nice thickness to it but this one seems, maybe more thick.  There is also lots of chopped and broken leaf material in there as well.  The blend itself is questionable but the end product is brilliant.  Likely whatever they used to blend it- likely areas near Wangong really enhance the end product.  The result is a brilliant masterpiece of taste, mouth and thoatfeeling and especially Qi!

This tea actually reminds me a lot of another I really like that is also a Wangong blend and also from 2013 as well it has a similarly strong energy to it but maybe not this powerful- the 2013 Biyunhao Mahei.  The Mahai has that same cherry berry flavor, a nice oily taste and a powerful energy.  The Mahei has a more compartmentalized taste and a distinct coco bitter note.  The Mahei is more obviously gushu.  This Tea Urchin Wangong has stronger Qi and bodyfeeling as well as a thicker oily texture and not really any bitterness at all.  Both seem to drop off relatively fast.  I think the Tea Urchin is the better of the two with a greater percentage of Wangong it’s also cheaper of the two. I actually like them both but still on the fence about caking either.

Vs the other Tea Urchin brand Wangongs- the 2012 is the lightest and airiest of the 3.  I sampled this one when it first was released and I’m just going off my memory of it because it left a powerful impression on me – faint floral taste, very pure but almost hard to grasp at with a powerfully spaced out Qi.  The 2013 is the most complex and is blended for power and to give it depth which it does brilliantly.  The 2014 is a nice fruity and juicy example with a nice thickness to it, a bit sweeter than the others.

Steepster Tasting Notes


2014 Tea Urchin Spring Wan Gong: Sounds Like Wangong!

(These notes are from 2019 when I purchased a cake)

This 2014 Tea Urchin Wan Gong goes for $93.00 for 200g cake or $0.47/g.

The Dry leaves smell of intense floral honey and lingering melon fruit sweetness.  The floral and high noted odour is quite strong for a puerh of 5 years.

The first infusion starts off with a lubricating floral honey which shows off its thicker texture and honey nuance right off the bat.  The sweet rich but light honey taste has a slightly malt sweetness and is layered.  There is a very mild, barely coolness, then a clear note of vanilla then almost floral.  The honey taste is throughout.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling are very mildly stimulated and hold the honey taste for quite a while on the breath.

The second starts with stronger honey notes the liquor is decently thick for a profile that is this light.  The honey is barely, not really floral, but between light and malty sweetness.  The aftertaste now has floral, light honey, dark honey, creamy sweetness, melon sweetness, but all these tastes are light with the exception of honey.  The mouthfeel and throat-feel is significantly thick for a tea this light… did I say that again?  Its all coating and sticky and very subtly grips the throat enough to push the saliva up in the throat.  The Qi starts to float the mind here.  The body floats with it.

The third infusion starts almost with a warm spicy note in honey concurrently with a distinct honey.  The mouthfeel is dense and all coating here.  It is felt deep into the throat.  There is a lingering floral honey malt sweetness that lingers in the aftertaste.  The qi undulates in the body and is not overpowering but it has a lot of mid floating Qi.  I can feel a heaviness between my eyes.  My heart starts to flutter.  The qi is very nice.  My mind starts to space out a bit.

The fourth infusion has a malty sweet, and quickly disappearing not quite tart berry edge, there are distant florals. The aftertaste is now mainly a creamy sweetness.  Honey profile is still the base profile but is less dominating here.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel remain full.  The long sweetness in the aftertaste is creamy and long.

The fifth infusion starts with a slight spiciness and layered honey.  The honey base stays throughout in a thicker liquor and almost astringent mouthfeel and throatfeeling.  The effects works great at pulling light notes long into the profile.  There are faint touches of flowers, creamy sweetness, and even fruits in the aftertaste.  The qi is not overpowering but there is a lot going on both in the body and mind.  Overall, it gives me a surge of clear energy, on the brink of too much.

The sixth starts off almost woody, spicy, and mainly honey.  Its thickness is noted as well as the sticky almost astringent power of the mouth and throatfeeling.  There is only very faint cooling but a long rolling sweet aftertaste that shows glimpses of depth honey, flowers, barely fruit, creamy sweet.

The seventh infusion layers down the honey, there is an interesting bright melon fruit note that pops initially and sticks around.  This infusion is brighter and fresher with fresh fruity tastes becoming more dominant over honey.  The mouthcoat is sticky and full.

The eighth infusion is more malty honey, layered in with some floral notes and a long creamy sweetness.  Still solid sticky almost astringent mouthfeel.  The creamy mild sweetness stretches into the breath.

The ninth infusion has a more honey layered wildflower approach with a subtle warm spiciness developing.  There is a pop of vanilla then long honey sweetness.  There are a lot of subtle and not too obvious but interesting nuances in the long aftertaste.

The tenth infusion is more honey and floral there is a very subtle astringency in there as well very slight that is coming out a little more.  The Qi is still big making the Heart race, the mind focus, and the body light and floating.  The long creamy sweet aftertaste is very long in the throat.

The eleventh infusion is lighter now with more of a lighter honey approach.  There is a burst of nice floral bouquet in this infusion followed by a long almost syrup and lingering sweet creamy almost fresh fruity sweetness.  The thick sticky mouthfeeling is great to complete the full feeling.

The 12th infusion starts to loose its dense liquor and the mouthfeeling and throatfeeling once again becomes a touch astringent. The astringency is quite mild and does much for these light tastes.  Tastes of honey, florals, fresh fruits, creamy sweetness still emerge but the liquor density and fullness is lesser.  However, this tea is not aged sufficiently and its mild astringency can be felt in the stomach.  This tea will still need a few more years to warm.

The 13th infusion I give it 10 seconds longer than flash and it pulls out a bit more depth as far as honey sweetness goes.  14th steep I give it 20 seconds beyond flash infusion it seems more floral but the depth of this tea continues to fall off without being aggressively pushed.  The 15th is minutes long a pushes some astringency out as well as layer honey and floral nuances there is tones of non-stop flavor late into this session that needs to be nudged out.  A plum taste develops.

Great Qi, nice mouth/throat feeling, complex subtle light flavours… sounds like Wangong to me :)

Steepster Tasting Notes