Tea and monkeys. They go together like, well, like tea and monkeys. Or whatever. Take the persistent and probably fanciful legend about the monkeys that pick tea somewhere in China, adeptly clambering to pluck the leaves from hard to reach locations that clumsy human beings can’t hope to access. Then there are the PG Tips monkeys, a gang of cutesy chimps who dressed up and acted like humans for several decades in the service of selling more tea for the popular English tea merchants.
For lovers of fine Chinese black tea one of the most notable monkeys of them all is the one in Golden Monkey, a variety of tea also known by the Chinese name of Panyang Congou. Produced primarily on China’s Fujian province, Golden Monkey is harvested by plucking one leaf and one bud and is known for its relatively long thin leaves which tend to be somewhat twisted.
A smooth tea with little in the way of astringency or bitterness, the flavor of Golden Monkey is sometimes said to faintly reminiscent of cocoa, with notes of spice and/or honey and fruit.
As for how Golden Monkey came by its name, well, that’s kind of tricky to say. The culture of tea is fraught with a variety of myths about these sorts of things and so you can pretty much take your pick. According to some, the name is derived from the legend of monkeys picking tea, which is probably the least likely of all of the possibilities. Other notions suggest that Golden Monkey has to do with the golden tips common to the variety and idea that the leaves themselves resemble monkey paws. Yet another somewhat related theory suggests that the term has to do with the downy leaf hair commonly found on varieties of this tea, though it’s not completely clear how that relates to monkeys.
In any event, regardless of what the name means or how it came to be, a cup or five of Golden Monkey is a not so shabby way to spend a day of tea drinking.
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