The origin of Monkey Picked oolong tea dates to the early 18th century, when the Tie Guan Yin varietal of tea plant was discovered in Anxi county of Fujian province. Legend has it that monkeys were trained by monks to pick the choicest leaves from wild tea trees growing in the Wuyi Mountains of Fujian Province. This monkey-picked tea was presented as tribute to Emperor Qian Long in 1741 and, for many years, was enjoyed exclusively by the Imperial Court. Over time, as the tea became more accessible to the general population, it provided inspiration for poets, artists, scholars and philosophers.
Tie Guan Yin means Iron Goddess or Iron Bodhisattva; the leaves are dark like iron yet the taste is light and ethereal, like the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin. Another Chinese legend says that the Goddess of Mercy appeared in a dream to a local farmer and told him to look in the cave behind her temple. There he found a single tea shoot, which he planted and cultivated. From that time, the tea has been known as Iron Goddess.
Today, monkey-picked simply means a very high-quality Tie Guan Yin tea. Picked during the spring and fall from higher elevations than other Tie Guan Yin grades, the monkey-picked grade is entirely handmade by small family artisans with great care.
Our Monkey Picked Oolong, from Anxi, China, is a high-grade Tieguanyin oolong crafted in a greener style to highlight the aroma side of the leaf. The leaves are fired briefly at a low temperature to release their sweet and floral-buttery notes. The taste is rich with a long-lasting finish.
While Tie Guan Yin can be simply brewed in any teapot, we recommend the gongfu method using lots of leaf, multiple infusions and brief steeping times to bring out its full characteristics.