Saturday, March 7, 2009
Tea Tasting Saturday #10 - Taiping HouKui (Taiping Best Monkey Tea)
Holy cow! Professional ballplayers aren't the only ones using steroids, apparently. Would you get a look at the size of these tea leaves!
I suspected something interesting would be inside when my "2-ounce" purchase of this tea came in a bag measuring about 6-1/2 x 11 inches. When I opened it, I was met with these mammoth tea leaves. To make sure mine eyes did not deceive me, I pulled out a ruler. Yep, many of these babies are 3 to 3-1/2 inches in length. Again ... wow!
Name of tea: Taiping HouKui (Taiping Best Monkey Tea). (Note to self: Find out whether the bad monkeys get a tea.)
Category: Chinese Green Tea
Purveyor: Harney & Sons
When purchased: January 2009
Dry leaf appearance: Super duper long leaves in varying shades of bright green with some almost "variegated" white and yellowish patches in places. A few of the leaves appeared to be fused together.
Wet leaf appearance: Curving and curling strands of super duper long tea leaves, definitely reminiscent of cooked spinach.
Steeping temperature and time: 1 teaspoon of tea, 175 degrees, 2-1/2 minutes. I definitely had to guess on the amount of tea leaf, since these didn't exactly fit into a normal measuring spoon. I tried to judge volume.
Scent: Strong vegetal scent that seemed to have many characteristics. Asparagus? Mmm, not exactly. Roasted green beans? No, not *that* strong a roasted scent. And with a sweet finish to it, somehow. This one seemed to have a lot of different "notes" to me.
Color: Pale green
Flavor: Again, I'm just amazed at how much more pleasant this quality green tea is. After oversteeping all those green tea teabags, this is a new taste experience entirely. This one had a very good "mouth feel," with just a slight astringency afterward. I steeped the leaves three more times, finishing with a much lighter, but still enjoyable, cup of tea.
Additional notes: Oh happy day! I just read Michael Harney's account of this tea, and I am not losing it to imagine the "green beans" characteristic and the sweetness. I had not, however, detected the "cross-hatching" on the leaves he describes, so I went back and looked. Indeed yes, it's there, and I enjoyed reading about what causes the cross-hatching design. (I don't want to be a spoiler for anyone planning to read the book.) What an interesting, interesting tea!
Next week's tea: Dragon Pearl Jasmine