A renowned green tea with a pale infusion and mild flavour
White Monkey is a world-renowned green tea and a speciality of Fujian province in eastern China – specifically the Taimu mountains that overlook the East China Sea. Known for their spectacular rock formations, these mountains have been said to resemble all manner of animals, including the monkey.
But this is not the reason behind the tea’s name. Nor are the fine, fluffy hairs coating the tea leaves, which have been likened in the past to monkey fur. No, legend has it that this tea originally grew on treacherous, rocky slopes, making tea-picking a perilous task. The local people grew tired of risking injury for their tea and trained monkeys to forage for the tea leaves instead, rewarding them with food in exchange for their loyal service. In honour of the indispensable role of our resourceful cousins, the tea was named ‘White Monkey’.
What’s missing in all of this is the monkey’s side of the story.
Was it really the cosy tag-team our legends would have it? Or were the monkeys gathering the tea for themselves, only to have it cruelly stolen? Was it really so difficult for humans to go and pick the tea leaves? We are the ones with opposable thumbs, after all. Or were the monkeys in fact training the humans to retrieve peanuts for them from inaccessible places? No matter: the place of the monkey in Chinese tradition is irrepressible.
White Monkey should not to be mistaken for a white tea – despite its name this is actually a green tea, the ‘white’ referring to the colour of the leaves. The highly aromatic and mild flavour of White Monkey fully justifies its fame in the tea world as a fine, accessible tea that connoisseurs and newcomers to green tea can enjoy.
Please note that monkeys DO NOT pick tea any more (if they ever did). If you have picked up something called “Monkey Picked Tea” from another company, then you, I’m afraid, are the monkey. Which might well be their legal defence.