This Taiping Houkui (aka Monkey King) wholeleaf green tea comes from Taiping county in Anhui province, China. The dry leaves are, although straight and course, nevertheless beautiful to behold: vibrant green, about two inches long, pan-fried and pressed with a criss-cross design. When infused, the tea broth is a pale olive-green color. The taste is distinct, vegetal, almost sweet, mellow, and refreshing. The smell is similar.
Taiping Houkui is commonly included in the list of China's top ten teas. The derivation of the name is interesting. Taiping, of course, refers to the county. Hou ('Monkey' in Chinese) comes from the name of a village in Taiping county, called Houkeng ('Monkey Hollow'). As the story goes, a gentleman named Wang Kuicheng in the early part of the 20th century had improved on the process of making a popular local tea ('Jian cha'). Over time, Wang's improved tea became known in time as Taiping Houkui tea.
There once lived a baby monkey with his parents in the Yellow mountain. One day the baby monkey lost his direction in the thick fog and could find his way back to the yellow Mountain. The father of the young monkey searched all over the place and eventually died of exhaustion in a valley. One day a kind old man, whom lived on wild tea and herbs, came across the dead monkey and buried its body in the hills while at the same time planting some wild tea and flowers besides the tomb. At that moment he heard a voice saying “I will thank you for helping me.” When the old man looked around there was nobody there. Afterwards the old man did not think much of it anymore.
The following year the old man while picking herbs and tea came across the hill where the monkey was buried and was astonished to see green tea trees growing all over the hills. Suddenly he heard a voice saying: “These tea trees are a gift for you, if you take good care for them you will be carefree”. The old man understood that it was not an illusion but real. So afterwards the man took good care for the trees and the trees flourished and produced very fine tea. He named the hill “Monkey Hill” and the valley “Monkey Valley” and likewise the tea was named “Taiping Monkey tea”.
Appearance leaf:Leaves are flat, straight,and long. Color is evenly dark green and luminous. There are indistinct red colour lines along the veins of the leaf which is commonly referred to as "Red Silk Thread".
Liquid: Clear yellow
Taste: Sweet and mellow
Origin: Huangshan District, Huangshan City, Anhui Province
To brew Taiping Houkui tea, first put dry tea leaves (ratio leaves to water, 1:30) in Gaiwan, yixing clay pot or glass teapot, then pour 85 degree boiled water into the teaware. Steeping time for first round can be up to half a minute. Steeping time can be prolonged with each subsequent brew. This tea can be brewed for 3 rounds.