When you think of tea, one of the first places that will probably come to mind is China. Famed for its tea, China has no shortage of popular strains of tea. In particular, China is known for its green tea. Of all the different green teas they have, there is one in particular that stands out, Taiping Houkui tea.
What is Taiping Houkui Tea?
Taiping Houkui tea is a beloved type of green tea from China. It has an interesting history and a very unique, though simple, brewing process. Aside from the flavor, the brewing process and the color of the tea are some of the aspects that are most loved by fans of Taiping Houkui tea.
History of Taiping Houkui Tea
Taiping Houkui tea first came to be during the Qing Dynasty in China around the mid-1600’s. Legend has it that a farmer found the body of a man known as the monkey king after he had passed away. The farmer buried the body and when he returned the following year he found that tea trees had grown over his grave. Because of this, Taiping Houkui tea is also known as “peaceful monkey leader” or “monkey king tea”.
All About This Tea
There are a lot of things to consider when you are thinking of brewing Taiping Houkui Tea. Like most teas, basic aspects like taste and caffeine content probably come to mind. There is more to this tea though including the brewing process, color, and shelf life. While you may not be directly exposed to the crafting process as a consumer, it is also an interesting part of this tea.
What Does it Taste Like?
You can expect a smooth, mellow flavor with this tea. It also has a bit of a sweet aftertaste. Some describe it as floral and delicate as well. There is also a strong but refreshing orchid fragrance you get with this tea. This tea is best drank as is, there is no need to add anything to it.
What About Caffeine Content?
If you are more concerned with caffeine content than drinking tea for enjoyment, you might find this tea a little disappointing. It does have some caffeine for sure, but it does not have a lot. A standard cup of Taiping Houkui tea has about 30 mg of caffeine, whereas a cup of coffee has roughly 95 mg of caffeine.
Most green teas have about 30mg of caffeine per cup, so it’s not a significant deviation from its peers, but other teas like black teas also tend to have up to twice as much caffeine per cup.
How Do You Brew it?
My favorite part of this tea is the brewing process. It’s not complicated, but the unique nature of it is what I find so interesting. With most teas that are commonly enjoyed you either put small, rolled leaves into a strainer or simply use a pre-packaged teabag. Taiping Houkui tea uses leaves that are rolled the long way and then pressed flat, so they will not work in either of those devices.
It is suggested that you use a tall, heat-resistant glass that you can see through for this tea. Add the long leaves of your peaceful monkey leader directly to the glass so they are sitting vertically. Heat some water on the side and slowly add it to the glass until the leaves are completely covered, then continue to add as much as you like after that. It is ok if your water reaches a boil; this tea is forgiving and will not get bitter.
None of that may sound particularly exciting, but this is where Taiping Houkui starts to stand out from other green teas. The leaves will slowly start to unfurl and sway in the glass. It is quite a spectacle and there is even a name to describe it. The swaying and unfurling of the tea leaves is referred to as “Phoenix dances”. As the tea brews, it also turns a very pleasant jade color.
The tea does not take a long time to brew. It all depends on how strong you want it to be. Your tea leaves only need to steep for one minute for a more delicate taste or two minutes for a stronger taste. The leaves can actually be used up to four times in one sitting as well, so you can continue to brew with the same leaves when you inevitably want more.
How is it Crafted?
The crafting process for this tea is a little different than other green teas, but it does still have some similarities. Taiping Houkui leaves are first shaped by hand in a wok after being picked. They are then pressed between two meshed screens and rolled flat. You can actually see the imprints left by the fabric of the mesh on the leaves, adding to the uniqueness of each cup.
Taiping Houkui tea is very different from your everyday tea. It has an interesting backstory that you won’t find with most other teas and a special brewing experience. In fact from start to finish, from brewing this tea to drinking it, there is something special and different about each part of it.
The flavor profile and aroma are refreshing, though if you’re looking for something to give you a heavy jolt of caffeine you won’t find that here. This tea was meant to be enjoyed for the sake of enjoying it, not to wake you up. It is a tea made for a monkey king!