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

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


  1. You are so funny, Angela. After reading your review, I'd really like to try this "tea on steroids". I like greens that are not too vegetal or astringent. I am curious to learn about the cross-hatching and plan to look it up later.

    Thanks for another interesting tea tasting post.

  2. Angela, I must agree with parTea Lady. Each week, your Tea Tasting becomes more and more delightful and just plain fun! When you got to the really big leaves, I wondered just how you would handle that! Your antics and thoughts on this one still leaves me wondering just which one weighs the most. . .a pound of tea or a pound of gold? Either way, drinking that tea, though it was green green, must have been like drinking pure gold leaf! Just think of the effort and time taken to get those leaves from the tree (bush, whatever), through customs and ports, the mail, and to you in a little bittey town, measured and documented, and into your tummy (that's as far as I'm going with this one). My goodness! The life of those leaves were not spent in vain!

  3. A thousand pardons Angela but in addition to enjoying your tasting description, I'd like to know more about that COOL LOOKING RULER!!!!

  4. I don't know which I have enjoyed more this week, Your comments or the friends!

  5. Denise: Please feel free to *always* ask about anything of interest! The silver ruler was a gift from a girlfriend. I looked on the back, and it is stamped "A Special Place" and 2004. I know that line of goodies is sold in the Tenderheart Treasures catalog, but since this has been out a while, maybe eBay could turn one up?

    Teresa: No question about it, the friends' comments are the best part!


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