Taiping Houkui, Spring 2012 ⋅ 太平猴魁

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Green Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Mike G
Average preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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  • “Ahh summer is slowly coming to an end, as the climate slowly cools, I crave more and more tea per day. I’ve tried several Tai Ping Houkui’s before but never thought much of them (as a matter of...” Read full tasting note

From Red Blossom Tea Company

Taiping Houkui is one of the most unusual green teas we’ve seen. Its large, finger-length leaves come from the Shi-da cultivar, which produces leaves that can reach nearly three inches in length.

Considered one of China’s ten famous teas, Taiping Houkui’s fairly recent origins can be traced back to the late 19th century. Though its name translates to mean “Monkey King” and legends have arisen around the name, the more believable account centers around a farmer named Huang Kui-Cheng from Hou Keng village. He is attributed with being to first to produce and successfully selling a tea with just the bud and secondary leaves.

Our Taiping Houkui comes from the Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) range. It was grown in Hou Keng, one of only three villages in Taiping County that produces this tea, and the historic origin of Taiping Houkui. Hand-harvested occurred in the spring of 2012 in the days after Guyu, an agricultural holiday that falls on the 20th of April. During harvesting, a stem with the leaf bud and three leaves are picked, although the third leaf is ultimately discarded after the leaves are wilted.

Once wilted, the leaves are pan-fired by hand. This step, called “kill green” deactivates the enzyme that would otherwise turn the tea into an oolong or black tea. From the pan, the tea leaves are individually hand-pressed, shaped and arranged on meshed trays. The trays are baked briefly over charcoal then cooled. Two additional firings follow, ultimately producing the flat, blade like appearance of the leaves. One can easily distinguish higher grade Taiping Houkui from lower grade machine made ones by the residual mesh pattern left on the hand-made leaves.

While large, Taiping Houkui’s leaves produce a tea that is clean, sweet and smooth. The character is crisp rather than vegetal and free of astringency or bitterness.

About Red Blossom Tea Company View company

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1 Tasting Note

57 tasting notes

Ahh summer is slowly coming to an end, as the climate slowly cools, I crave more and more tea per day. I’ve tried several Tai Ping Houkui’s before but never thought much of them (as a matter of fact I just noticed a previous note for Harney & Son’s version was not uploaded… oh well I’ll repost it later). I splurged on this one just because of one thing and one thing only, the photos of the dry leaf. The pictures Redblossom put up are just so beautiful. Considering I have not (yet) been dissapointed with their quality, I figured, “huh, maybe this is the real deal, how a good tai ping is supposed to be,” so I went ahead with the impulse buy and got some.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Beautiful. DEEP vibrant green leaves, super long and unbroken, with a very fresh green grassy smell. The best looking Tai Ping I’ve personally encountered.

>Brewing Method
Following Redblossom’s suggested brew guidelines; 4 grams of leaf, 180F water, 1 min 30 sec steep time.

>Liquid Appearance
Clear yellow green.

The first cup gives off a very vegetal smelling cup, with some grassy notes.
The first cup overall was also the most flavorful, being light and smooth, subtly sweet, hints of grass, ending with a clean mouth feel. No bitterness at all and very resilient to several infusions. Each subsequent infusion lost some flavor little by little but remained very similar to the first. I was able to re-steep this guy about 7 times, it just kept giving and giving!

>Wet Leaf Appearance
The leaves slowly unfold to show their “true” leafy shape, but not all of them do. From a vibrant green the become a dull yellow green after several infusions.

Of the several Tai Ping Houkui’s I’ve had, I can safely say this one was the tastiest one. But my main gripe with this kind of tea, is that I feel it tastes just too plain, I’ve never understood why (in some places/lists) this is considered a famous tea. There is nothing special to it that makes crave it like crazy like some other teas do. I figured Redblossom’s version would provide an epiphany similar to my experience with Dragonwell, but it was not meant to be.

Again, I’ve found this the best one I’ve tried, but Tai Ping Houkui just does not intrigue me as much as other greens. Still, a very tasty and good tea.

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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