Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Enough Monkeying Around

By Jess Hodges

Half the fun of looking into the history of Chinese tea is the multitude of strange myths and legends about it's production, but in the case of Golden Monkey tea the myths are still being repeated to this day. This black tea is grown in Yunnan and Fujian, it's a high quality variety made from only the bud and the first leaf of the plant and it stands out because of the distinctive gold veining of the leaves. It isn't the golden part of the name however that needs to be explained, it's the second part where things get strange.

There are those who say it is called monkey tea because of the appearance of the leaves which look like monkey tails or paws but the most common and surprisingly widely believed story is that the tea gets its name from the fact that it is actually harvested by monkeys. The story goes that the trees grow on such remote and inaccessible cliffs that humans can't reach them and have had to train themselves furry little assistants.

Sadly it isn't true. Aside from the fact that no one would create a tea plantation on a cliff face there are a large number of people being employed to pick the tea who deserve the credit for their own hard work. It is a lovely story but although, given the intelligence of monkeys, it's certainly possible it's hardly a practical method. While monkey tea is more than deserving of fame for it's great taste and high quality it's maybe time we laid the legend to rest and let the tea speak for itself.


Matcha Green Tea said...

Informative post. I wish it was true about the monkeys harvesting the tea, that would be amazing! Does the Da Hong Pao 'red robe' story have any truth behind it?