Thursday, December 26, 2013

Meet the Tea: Tai Ping Hou Kui

One of my favorite types of green tea is Tai Ping Hou Kui. It is made using the Shi Da Zhong, a variety with particularly large leaves. The long, flat shape is created by pressing them between pieces of mesh with a roller. An impression of the fabric can be seen on the surface of the leaves which always makes for a fascinating tea session. I've seen several different sizes of this tea and some of them can be quite massive. The taste is sweet with vegetal and floral notes. Although fairly delicate, there isn't much danger of over-steeping.

The name is most often translated as peaceful monkey leader. You might ask yourself, what does that have to do with tea? A local legend holds that the monkey king fell ill and died after losing his son. A farmer discovered his body and carefully buried it. Tea trees grew from this spot the next year and the farmer harvested the leaves, making them into the distinctive blade-like shape.

So far I have tried this tea from Peony Tea Shop, Teavivre and Bellocq. All of them have been absolutely exquisite. I suggest using a glass brewing vessel because they are quite beautiful to watch. The taller it is, the better you'll be able to view them. 175 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes seems to be the average but you should generally stick to the recommendations of the retailer you are purchasing from.