Posted by: ktzefr | June 16, 2016

5 Reasons to Drink…Golden Monkey Tea

Chinese painting on silk; Photo:KFawcett

Chinese painting on silk; Photo:KFawcett

An ancient Chinese proverb says “the finest teas come from high mountains.”  Golden Monkey (also called Panyong Wang and Jin Hou) is grown in both the Fuijan and Yunnan provinces.   Yunnan, an ancient province in southwestern China, borders Vietnam, Laos, and Burma.  It’s a cloudy, misty, mountainous place where tea has been grown for almost 2,000 years.  Some varieties are the size of large trees!

Golden Monkey tea is hand-processed every spring and only the bud and first leaf are picked.  There are differing opinions about how the tea got its name.  Some say it’s because when the leaves unfurl they resemble monkey claws, while others contend that it used to grow on steep, treacherous peaks that were difficult to reach, so monks trained monkeys to climb up and pluck the tea leaves.  Another legend goes that monks threw rocks at monkeys in tea trees, which caused the animals to fall and the broken branches and leaves fell with them.  Though most tea drinkers question the monkey myths, we are certain of this: when someone mentions a tea that is “monkey-picked,” they are referring to premium leaves, the finest grade available.

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tpot5 Reasons to Drink Golden Monkey

— It looks good.  This black tea with golden leaf tips or threading makes for a lovely golden-brown brew.

— It tastes great!  Tea connoseiurs have described the flavor in a variety of ways — as having “chocolate undertones” or a hint of roasted apples, walnuts, apricots, peaches, and/or honey.   Depends on the palate.  Or, perhaps, this tea is so exquisite that the tea drinker associates it with his/her favorite flavors.

— There is an old Irish saying that “a cup of tea should be strong enough for a mouse to trot on.”  Although this brew is rich and full-bodied, it’s also smooth and leaves a pleasant aftertaste.  It’s low in tannins and has no astringency or bitterness.  Just about perfect.

— Though it is a complex black tea, it can be enjoyed with multiple infusions.  I usually add an extra pinch of leaves to the second cup.  However, I NEVER add sugar or honey.  This is a wonderful tasting tea that can only be harmed by adding anything but hot water.

Golden Monkey tea leaves; Photo:KFawcett

Golden Monkey tea leaves; Photo:KFawcett

— Golden Monkey has won numerous awards at the annual World Tea Championship.  I’d say that’s reason enough to try it one time.  Though the leaves have been harvested for almost 2,000 years in China, it has only been developed for export in the last two decades.

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I read somewhere that in ancient times rich landlords and Taipans claimed that this tea provided them with agility and sexual powers.  I looked up “Taipans” and found multiple images of large, venomous snakes.  This couldn’t be right!  On Wiktionary, however, I found the answer.  A taipan is a tycoon, a rich businessman in China.  So, in the old days, the good stuff was reserved for the landlords and other big shots.  Today, however, anyone can drink the monkey tea, but it’s not cheap and not always easy to find.

Here are some good sources — click and buy:

(Don’t be coaxed into buying the blends — Golden Monkey/Strawberry, etc!  Chances are you’ll get lots of strawberry or rose petals or cinnamon and very few actual Golden Monkey tea leaves and won’t get the value for your money.)

Teavana

Serenity Tea

Adagio Teas

Silk Road Teas

Golden Moon Tea

 

Happy drinking!

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