Monday, May 12, 2008

Monkey Picked

Tea: Monkey Picked - An Xi Oolong (2007 Harvest)
Vendor: Seven Cups
Price: $10.00 / 50g
Source: Fujian Province, China
Vendor Description: This very popular certified organic tea is both lightly oxidized and roasted to create a fresh floral aroma. The blending of local Anxi tea bushes creates a slightly sweet flavor that can be infused many times. It is a great choice for those looking for a mild taste with a pleasant fragrance. The name of this tea comes from a famous tale passed on in the oral tradition. It tells of tea bushes growing in the high mountains favored by the people but very dangerous to pick. The local farmers decided to trained monkeys to harvest the tea leaves. Of course, the monkeys were not careful pickers and would grab both new and old leaves. The result was a blend of leaves that created a tea with a special character and light flavor known today as Monkey Picked. We love the stories and myths that surrounded Chinese tea culture, and ensure you no monkeys are involved in processing this tea.

Additional Vendor Information:
Location: Fujian Province
Tea Bush: Tie Guan Yin, Huang Jin Gui and Ben Shan bush
Tea Master: Yan Li Zhong
Harvest Time: early April
Picking Standard: 1 bud 2 leaves
Brewing vessel: glass cup, gaiwan, glass or porcelain pot, yixing pot
Brewing Guidelines: 1st infusion ½ Tbs per 20 oz 212F for 1 min
Infusions: at least 7 times

About this tea: Contrary to it's name, Monkey Picked Oolong isn't actually picked by monkies. (as noted above in the vendor description). After trying out quite a few different Tie Guan Yin teas, I figured I was curious what this one tasted like.

Leaf: The leaf for this looked much like a normal TGY. The leaf shape and size reminded me a lot of the TGY from Lupicia, only this time with slightly smaller leaves. The comma shape was consistent and the color as well.

1st Infusion: This tea had a very light TGY aroma to it. The flavor was very different though. It had a very strong almost green tea flavor to it. The flavor also had hints of being a vegetal taste. It all left me with a slight sense of astringency and still trying to figure out what it was that I was tasting. I knew that this was another TGY, but it didn't fall in line with the rest of them.

2nd Infusion: This infusion was similar to the first, but had a medium sense of astringency when finished, and it also exhibited a very unusual bitterness spike during the middle of the flavor. I'm not quite sure how to describe it, but it had a peak of bitterness much like a sencha does, but in a very different manner.

Rating: 4/10

Conclusion: I was very confused by this tea and don't really know what to make of it. The flavor was muddled and unclear, but it had a certain allure that I am still thinking about. If you are looking for a more typical TGY, try something else, but if you are a fan of TGY you might want to try this to see what you think.

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