05 Nov All You Need To Know About Monkey King
Another gem in our Shades of Green box is Monkey King. A floral, fresh, mellow tea brewing in your cup.
What is Monkey King?
Monkey King or Taiping HouKui translates to “peaceful monkey leader” and comes from Huang Shan, Anhui Province in China. This exquisite tea with sweet orchid and warm hay flavour grows on the northern slopes of the Huang Shan mountain, surrounded by lakes.
The orchid flavour is absorbed by the tea leaves from the surrounding orchids where the tea grows.
“Peaceful monkey leader” has large, flat, and long green leaves, producing a pale green liquor with a slight vegetal aroma.
The tea has an orchid, sweet and warm hay flavour, and a floral, fresh, hay aroma.
Monkey King is a very renowned Chinese green tea which goes back to the early 20th century. It is famous for the leaf’s shape, often described as “two knives and one pole” – in other words two straight leaves grasping the huge bud with white hair.
Taiping HouKui’s legend tells the story of a tea tree that was transformed after the sickness and death of the monkey king, the Chinese trickster god. The monkey king’s body was buried by a farmer who came across the incident and buried the body right there. It is said that tea trees grew at that same place the next year where the body was buried. These tea trees are considered a gift from the monkey king to the farmer for his kind gesture. The farmer took care of the tea tree, harvested and made the leaves into this flat-pressed tea. The unique flavour and taste were noticed from surrounding villages, making the tea famous.
Processing of Monkey King
Monkey King comes from a cultivar called Shi-da (柿大品种 Shi-da Pin-zhong) and is carefully chosen at Anhui Province. The processing of Monkey King includes 5 steps:
1. Picking 拣尖 (Jian-jian) – select the twig (1 bud and 3 leaves) it should be robust and well grown.
2. Pan Frying 殺青 (Sha Qing) – this step aims to inactivate oxidative enzymes by heating the leaves at a high temperature.
3. 1st Heating – the purpose of this first heating is to vaporise moisture, halt remnant enzyme activity, preserve the green colour of leaves and form the shape of Monkey King.
4. Second Heating 二烘 (Er Hong) – this second heating at 80˚C takes 25 to 30 minutes and strengthens the leaves which are all settled on a plate evenly and turned every 5-6 minutes 5 to 6 times.
5. Pressing – In this stage the tea is covered in cloth and carefully pressed together in a basket, giving it a unique flat shape, which is characteristic to the Monkey King tea.
6. Third heating 三烘 (San Hong) – the last step is heating the leaves at 60˚C and again turning the leaves every 5 minutes, 6 times. The aim is still to reduce the moisture from the tea leaves to 5-6% then the leaves are removed from the basket and left to cool down an hour and afterward packed.
Here are some brewing tips to help you get the most enjoyment out of your Monkey King.
The “Asian style” or “Gong-fu”
Steep 6 grams (2 tbsp) in 150ml water (medium sized Gaiwan) at 80°C for approximately 20-30 seconds.
Infuse 6-8 times and add 5-10 seconds for each consecutive re-steep.
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