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Monkey Picked

Ma Liu Mie the Monkey King and Monkey Picked Oolong from Teavivre

There’s a lot to take in with a name like Taiwan Monkey Picked (Ma Liu Mie) Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea, but the most exciting part is “Monkey-Picked.”  What?  Really?  There were monkeys involved in getting this tea from the tree to my teapot?  According to legend, the steep cliff-side where this tea is grown is too treacherous for tea farmers to reach the leaves, so they trained monkeys to pick the leaves for them.  Ma Liu Mie is an honorable nickname for this tea used by the locals, as well as the name of the tea-picking Monkey King of legend. Read more about the tea under the “more info” tab here.

My first impression of this tea is that the leaves are small and dense, not cut or broken, but simply in a different shape than the long curls of black tea I’ve come to expect.  Dry, this oolong smells pleasantly earthy with a bit of stone-fruit sweetness like raisin or apricot.  I followed the recommended brewing instructions, using very hot, boiling water and a hefty serving of tea leaves.

At first sip, I notice strong roasted flavors.  However, this tea is not full-on smoke-flavored like lapsang souchong, instead it is more complex, like the perfect warm, golden-char flavor of eating food cooked over a campfire.  There are some of the aged, fermented notes I tend to associate with pu erh, but they are much more gentle and less sour. This type of earthiness is concentrated and layered, with notes of toasted grains, warm woods, and new leather.
On a day-to-day basis, I drink tea that is drinkable and easy-going.  I have to be in the right mood to want a bold, smokey lapsang souchong, or a challenging, fishy pu erh.  This Monkey Picked Oolong is a perfect compromise between all three.  It is so much more than a basic breakfast tea, but it is not so sour or smokey to bowl you over.  It is gentle and earthy, smooth and toasted, and it has a well-earned, legendary reputation.

How could you not give Monkey Picked Oolong a try?

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teavivre

Using Taiwan autumn tea as material, this Monkey Picked Tie Guanyin carefully selected by TeaVivre is baked slowly by soft fire (the baking process falls into three steps and every step lasts two minutes). The degree of fermentation is 100 percent so that the dried tea can keep a long-lasting fragrance. After brewing, the smell of honey peach and the baked flavor can be perfectly appreciated and the beverage tastes gorgeously smooth.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Monkey Picked Oolong from Red Leaf Tea

Monkey Picked-Oolong from Red Leaf Tea
Monkey Picked-Oolong from Red Leaf Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy: Red Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Deep in the forests of Southern China, tea leaves are still harvested by hand from wild tea trees. These are considered to be gourmet, premium teas among the Chinese, and there is always a light body, a delicate clarity, and an earthy nature to the brews of these leaves that is never found elsewhere. At one time, tradition says, the monks of a certain temple, desirous of harvesting more of these wild tree leaves at a quicker pace, trained dozens of monkeys to climb to the tops of the tea trees and pick the youngest leaves and pekoe buds up there! These monkey-picked leaves were then converted into oolong tea, the monk’s favored beverage. Today, Chinese tea drinkers call the very best oolong teas made from wild tree leaves, “Monkey-Picked,” even though more reliable methods of harvesting are now employed. Premium “Monkey-Picked” Oolong is rare, labor-intensive, and extremely delicate in flavor. It can be brewed for multiple infusions, with many declaring that the second steeping is the best! “Monkey-Picked” Ooloong has an extremely complex bouquet, with an earthiness in the brew usually found only in aged Pu Erh tea! Known to the Chinese as Ti Kuan Yin tea, or Goddess Tea, this ultimate oolong is a rare treasure for our Red Leaf customers! Try some today!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I am a huge fan of oolong tea. Money Picked Oolong from Red Leaf Tea is a great one! The price is more than fair for this quality tea. At 7.99 per ounce it is robust with fruity juicy flavors and deep earthiness. The aroma is intoxicating and inviting. You can taste and smell ripely sweetened berries, and a caramelized sugar flavor that is just outstanding!

There is a slight rock mineral flavor that is not drying at all, rather quenching which I find interesting because mineral flavors are generally drying on my palate. This is a welcome and unique experience .

The flavors linger on the palate for quite a long time, beckoning me to take another sip, yet as I am generally one to drink my teas rather quickly, there is something that makes me just want to sit back and allow the flavors to meld over my palate, and just enjoy the after taste.

The color of the cup is delightful, deep golden orange almost verging on an amber color. Very cheerful to look at, and even more joyful to savor.

Red Leaf Tea is my “go to” place for straight and flavored matcha, but don’t overlook their abundant selection of straight and flavored teas!

I tend to be a big fan of Dong Ding Oolong, but this Monkey Picked Oolong from Red Leaf Tea my just be winning my top spot for oolong love!

Hunan Golden Tips from Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Imperial Tea Garden

Company Description:

Forget the ceremonious monkey business, and prepare yourself for the luxurious offerings of this rare golden black tea from the Hunan Province of China. Grown at an altitude of 4000 to 6000 feet above sea level in what the Chinese refer to as the “tea country in the South,” Monkey Picked Golden Hunan is one of the finest examples of hand crafted golden tips in the world. A distinctive mellow flavor that has the power captivate your attention.

Taster’s Review:

The aroma of the dry leaf is interesting.  It smells like the forest!  It has a deep, woodsy/musky/earthy scent to it with hints of a “leafy” quality- it smells like the air of a forest just after a rain.  There are also vague notes of smokiness to it.  It’s a very intriguing bouquet.

Once brewed, the tea smells more smoky and less woodsy, but there is still a deep earthy note to it.  This aroma translates into the flavor:  smoky – but not too much – and earthy with a deep oaken kind of taste to it.  There are also hints of spice.  Yes, there is a very pleasant complexity to this tea.

I am not getting any bitterness from this tea, but there is a light astringency to it.  It has a very smooth character, it’s quite lovely.

I recommend consuming this tea hot, as it does lose some of it’s complex nature with the chill.  It is still good cold, but not as good.  It has a light sweetness to it, but I found that it was more palatable with just a tiny drizzle of honey.  I don’t recommend milk with this one though – it seemed to overwhelm it.

A very pleasant tea – it is bold and brisk enough to enjoy first thing in the morning, and it has a very invigorating character about it – it would be great for a mid-afternoon tea – it would perk you right up!  Cheers!