Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: bright gold
Teabento is a company that I've featured here on the blog quite a bit over the last few months. They generously shared a large number of samples so there is still more to share. Each of their teas is named after an animal that is incorporated into their product photography. I think this is an adorable gimmick and really helps them to stand out from other vendors. Don't let the cuteness fool you, the teas that I've tried so far have been very enjoyable.
When it comes to Taiwanese tea there are three things that I want to know: cultivar, elevation, and the mountain where it was produced. Thankfully Teabento provides all of this information and more about their teas. Jade Monkey hails from Yu Shan, the tallest mountain in Taiwan. It was produced at 1,800m using the Qing Xing (aka Green Heart) cultivar. In order to be considered a high mountain oolong, a tea must be grown at a minimum of 1,000m so this tea is right on the money.
The taste of this tea was verdantly green and floral yet balanced. It was creamy with notes of sweet corn, orchids, and just a touch of caramel. The sweet aftertaste lingered wonderfully after each sip. Later infusions grew more vegetal and added a layer of citrus aroma to the mix. Throughout my session with this tea there was just enough astringency to be refreshing but it never toed the line into being bitter or unpleasant. I wish that I had remembered to photograph the steeped leaves as they were quite plump and showed the pronounced vein that Qing Xing is known for very well.
I've seen a number of vendors lately who are suggesting weirdly small leaf amounts and short infusion times for gongfu brewing. While there isn't a way of making tea that is right for everyone, producing an underwhelming cup just to arbitrarily increase the number of infusions is complete nonsense. Bravo to Teabento for recommending appropriate parameters that let this tea shine!
Have you had a chance to try Jade Monkey? Tell me all about it in the comments below!