About This Tea
How I got it: I received a sample of this tea for free in exchange for a review.
How you can get it: Monkey-Picked Green Tea – Tai Ping Hou Kui is available online from Teasenz.
Tea description from the Teasenz website:
Possibly China’s most luxurious gift tea. The monkey picked tea (tai ping hou kui in Chinese) won the 2004 King of Tea award. The tea’s long, flat, and straight dry leaves become larger when brewed, almost like flower petals dancing in the cup. The Monkey King has a mellow aroma reminiscent of orchids, making it a very soothing tea.
How I Brewed It
The dry leaf of Teasenz’s Tai Ping Hou Kui is gorgeous and unlike any other kind of tea I’ve seen before. The leaves are pressed long and flat like thick blades of grass and have a delicate, fluffy texture like feathers or moth wings. The different strands of leaves mingle together so that it looks almost like the tresses of some beautiful mermaid.
Damn, the leaf is so pretty!
The smell when I open the packet is rich and vegetal, like green beans glistening with melted butter. It’s even somewhat musky. I ordered this sample roughly a year ago and it had been languishing in my cupboard, so the fact that the leaf still smells so good is a testament to their tea growers and to the quality of their packaging.
I decided to brew this leaf in a gaiwan over a few steeps in 80°C water. The first steep was 15 seconds long, the second 20 seconds, and the third 30 seconds.
How Does It Taste?
The first steep produced a brew that was pale yellow-green and had a mild smell that was briny and vegetal. However, the taste itself was much stronger — it packed a sharp punch that reminded me an awful lot of some sweeter sencha teas. It was rich, somewhat umami, and had a lingering buttery aftertaste on the back and sides of my tongue that faded into grassy notes.
The second steep produced a liquid that was slightly greener and weaker in flavour. That sencha-like quality was still there, but tasted much grassier and had a less buttery aftertaste. I also started to notice some astringency and it felt like my tongue was coated in fuzz.
The third steep was weaker still but started to smell sweet instead of vegetal, and it had a sharp aftertaste on the sides of my tongue.
After the third steep there was a big drop-off in flavour. I drank 5 steeps in total, but the fourth and fifth ones were weak. But those first and second steeps were great! And the wet leaf after I finished brewing looked like long, forlorn strands of seaweed — again, super gorgeous. I’ll seriously enjoy drinking up the rest of the remaining sample.