Mar 7, 2013

Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin

Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin
The Bamboo Tea House via

Today, I sipped an oolong tea with an offbeat name: Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin. Its history is whimsical. It is said that Buddhist monks trained monkeys to access hard-to-reach leaves, even encouraging monkey business in order to loosen precious branches. Perhaps untrue, but the term monkey-picked has become synonymous with this tea.

Oolong means "Black Dragon." offers this description of oolong...
Oolong is a semi-oxidized tea made from large, mature leaves, which can withstand the lengthy rolling and oxidizing process. (If standard tea production is the newest two leaves and a bud, oolong is often three or four leaves and a bud.) After being plucked, the leaves are withered to remove some moisture. The leaves are then rolled, and that can happen in several ways — twisting, curling into tight balls, etc. After rolling, the leaves are allowed to rest and oxidize for a while. For many oolongs, those two steps — rolling and oxidizing — are repeated several times, creating many layers of flavor and aroma.
California's historic Claremont was a favorite escape of mine. The Bamboo Tea House, a tea lover's paradise, is located on the town's brick and mortar main street. The walls are shelved with a variety of exotic and classical teas, along with some delightfully flavored blends. It was there that I discovered Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin tea! Thankfully, after moving to Idaho, their products can be ordered online.

World Spice Merchants features this tea, along with the following description...

Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin
Camellia sinensis teas : Ti Kuan Yin Monkey Picked - Item # 0297
This competition-grade oolong delighted us at first sip. The lightly oxidized, light and dark green leaves unfurl slowly during steeping to release a lush, honey-colored liquor and an orchid-like flavor that will awaken the palate and linger for some time. This Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin oolong is rich and good for many infusions as the leaves release the complex flavor. But, is it really monkey-picked? We're not telling. 
Brew 1-2 minutes at 195°F; 1 to 6 steepings (for multiple steeps, use the shorter steeping time). 
This tea can be acquired from links in this post. Harney & Sons also carries Top Ti Quan Yin, considered the best tea out of the northern Fujian Province, which, as Harney & Sons explains, "is always expensive." Keep in mind that only a teaspoon is needed for multiple infusions as the tea expands dramatically.

Oolong for now,

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♫ Karen