There’s something about tea and monkeys – or so it would seem. This peculiar connection manifests itself in a number of interesting ways. Among them are Golden Monkey, a popular Chinese tea variety; the legend of monkey-picked tea; and an assortment of monkeys – both animated and real – who have been starring in PG Tips commercials for more than half a century.
PG Tips is a popular British tea merchant that first started offering its wares in 1930. It was about another quarter of a century before the company rolled out an advertising campaign that turned out one of the longest running campaigns of all time. It dealt with the adventures of the Tipps family, a gang of chimpanzees with a fondness for tea and a penchant for the requisite silly antics that we’ve come to expect from chimps.
More monkey-generated antics followed in 2007 when a monkey puppet named Monkey began starring in a popular series of PG Tips commercials along with his pal Al.
If you’d like to catch up on some of the monkey antics you’ve been missing over the last fifty years or so, there’s YouTube, of course, where you can find numerous episodes starring the Tipps and Monkey and Al.
There is an African monkey known as a Golden Monkey, but the term, as tea drinkers know it, refers to Chinese black tea produced in Fujian and Yunnan provinces. According to some accounts the name comes from the fact that Golden Monkey leaves resemble monkey claws.
There are a number of colorful legends about tea, including the quaint notion that somewhere in China there are monkeys trained to pick tea leaves that are inaccessible to human pickers. While this makes for a good story, chances are pretty good that it doesn’t have any basis in fact.
For more about monkey-picked tea, check out Monkeys, Tea Leaves and Lies, at the Gongfu Girl site.