Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monkey Picked Oolong Tea

The tea’s quaint name arouses curiosity and one is naturally drawn to find out the story behind this tea and the reason for such a strange name. Well, monkey picked oolong tea won’t disappoint ardent tea lovers who attempt to discover what this tea is all about.

The tea has an interesting legend from which it acquired its name. The legend goes to state that many centuries ago, a Buddhist monk was picking tea leaves. His monkey saw his master picking the leaves and started imitating him. It climbed the tea plants and started plucking tea leaves. The leaves collected by monkey brewed a uniquely different flavor that those handpicked by monk himself. The monk assumed that this different flavor was due to tea leaves being picked by monkey. He was so impressed that he got his monkey to pick tea for him from the high mountains of Fujian province, unreachable by humans.  Soon the practice was adopted by others.

But the authenticity of the above legend is highly debatable. However, the practice of getting tea plucked by monkeys has virtually died. It is only a small Chinese village which still continues to preserve this tradition. Villagers proudly assert that training monkeys involves skill and cause no harm or ill-treatment to any monkey. But today, the tea is mainly picked by hand. Skilled tea pluckers carefully pluck the youngest top two leaves and the bud from the tea plant early in the spring and during fall.

It is plucked from rare wild tea plant called Mammalia. The tea is entire handmade by small family artisans. Today, the name monkey picked is synonymous with highest grade oolong tea. It is also known as Tieguanyin or Ti Kuan Yin. Its leaves are dry with light and dark green shades, indicating partial fermentation.

It yields its best flavour when brewed by gongfu method as the method is specially suited to draw out the best flavour from an oolong.  It is to be brewed at a moderate temperature for about five minutes. The first brew should preferably be very short, more of just a rinse than brew. It should be discarded, and then the tea should be brewed again. Its tea pellets unfurl to brew pale golden liquor. Its unbroken, even sized leaves open up gracefully to treat you to the most delicious oolong. The tea can be infused several times over, each infusion giving a unique taste and flavour.

Drinking monkey picked oolong promises the best oolong tea experience. It has a bold fruit flavour and an orchid fresh aroma. It tastes simply alluring and leaves you with a sweet lingering finish. You can enjoy a wonderful floral bouquet of tastes with a fragrance of honeysuckle or magnolia. It pleases with its mild taste and pleasant aroma.

The tea is also high on health properties along with taste. Its dry astringency tones up the teeth and keeps brain fresh and active. It pairs best with high fat, oily foods as it lowers the absorption of fat content from meal. It boosts up rate of metabolism and burns more fat calories, and in the process helps reign in obesity. It is a great dietary supplement and also promotes healthier skin.  It keeps skin well hydrated and prevents formation of fine lines and wrinkles. It does contain a small quantity of caffeine, but is extremely relaxing and soothing to a tired body. Some cultures use it to reduce cholesterol.

Monkey picked oolong tea may come across as a little too pricey as compared to other varieties of oolong. But given the amazing taste of this rare and delightful beverage, it is well worth its price tag. Its fresh aroma is reminiscent of misty high mountain air, and the cold, heat, wind and fog which contributed to grow this prized delicacy.