For the past few months I’ve been observing and tasting my various sheng from the Tea Urchin. Granted, I only have three cakes and a sample from them but I haven’t been too focused on them because of my obsession with White2Tea.
The Tea Urchin is a mom-and-pop online tea shop ran by a husband and wife team, Eugene and Belle. They’ve been running the Tea Urchin since 2011 and have had an extraordinary journey since then. Upon reading their blog, which is really informal about puer, you’d see that their journey goes from meeting the worlds oldest wild tea tree to starting a family with the introduction of their son Miles! Rather if you’re new or old to Puer, The Tea Urchin is an online shop that is great to familiarize yourself with.
If you’ve been reading my past few reviews, you’d know that White2Tea has been an obsession of mine and I’ve been slowly exploring out into other vendors of tea - like BitterLeafTeas for example. The Tea Urchin is a name that has been thrown around on the tea community on Reddit and Steepster. However, I think its time to review one of their most well-known Yiwu teas, the 2013 Yiwu Snake Blend!
Look at that paper! This paper is depicts a snake about to make a meal of a hare. The paper presented loosely-compressed cake. I personally like this because lose compression makes it really easy to get the tea that you need for your session. I just really like being able to pick out whole tea leafs without damaging them.
I started this session with a quick rinse to wash away the past three years of dust collecting, but after ten minutes I jumped right in! When taking my first sips of this tea, I immediately noticed a light warmness followed by a sweet sour note - a sour note that could be interrupted as a sweet lemon peel. Along with the mix of lemony tartness and warmness, an undertone of melon was trying to make itself known.
On my fourth steep, a smokiness emerged from the warmness that originally hit my tongue. This is the moment when this tea started to reveal how complex it was, because before this point I wouldn’t have expected anything more to come from this tea. Although the lemony tartness followed the smokiness, it left a lasting sweet warmness at the back of my throat - which was very pleasant.
Steeps 6 - 12
This tea started to turn bitter and was leaving a greener taste on the sides of my tongue. The smokiness was still present, but the tartness started to taste a lot sharper around steep eight. The tartness transformed from a lemon zest to a hibiscus-like sourness. At the same time, the sweet warmness started to disappear. Around the tenth steep, this tea was losing all of its flavors all together, and only left a green note that resembled grass. However, this didn't last long because by the eleventh and twelfth steep the flavor was fading away. It seems that as soon as this teas flavors changed, it was gone.
On the Tea Urchin’s site, there was a review that said this tea tasted like creme burlee. I wanted to correct that statement by saying that there’s nothing about this tea that pointed to creme burlee. However, it would be easy to mistake this tea for a pastry because of the mixture of light tartness and warm smokiness. The 2013 Yiwu Blend didn’t hold out long as far as flavor goes, but that could be a result of the larger Yiwu leaves thats in this blend. Upon dissecting this tea’s wet leaf, I was surprised to find that many of the leaves were bruised - which would probably be the cause for this tea’s sour punch. A plus to this tea is the bitterness which points to the fact that this sheng has a lot of aging potential.
Overall, the 2013 Yiwu Snake Blend is a puer tea that I wouldn’t recommend for beginners. I think that many of these flavors would hit a beginner over the head, and this puer wouldn’t be appreciated as much. Despite that this puer has exceptional leaf quality, I’m not a huge fan of the flavors that arose from this blend its-self. For the larger selection of teas on the Tea Urchin’s site, there’s far more that I would rather purchase instead of the 2013 Yiwu Snake Blend.
I wanted to give a shout-out to Totem Tea Co. for their oolongs! They’re a tea company based in Portland Oregon that has a wide-range of different teas. They say that they try at least twenty different teas for one tea that they sell. I highly recommend their Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong. This oolong has a beautiful taste that is worth an order.