‘Golden Monkey’ is more of a descriptor today than a grade or type of tea. However, that being said, traditionally it should only be used to describe a regional black tea that historically was a place-specific growth, from the town of Panyang (or Tanyang) known as ‘Panyang Congou’, with all gardens located in eastern China. And…it should be…delicious!
One of the glorious, wonderful black teas upon which China has built quite a reputation, Golden Monkey (as Bai Lin, Panyang, or Golden Monkey) may or may not have contrasting color tip, and may refer to a harvest of leaf that may consist of fairly small leaf, or size up to fairly huge leaf. Depending on the provenance of the bushes or small trees from which the leaf is plucked (and their age), the leaf can also range from being quite youthful and assertive to showing maturity and softness. The description of the purveyor will help establish the particulars of the specific tea that you are purchasing.
Naming a batch of leaf ‘Golden Monkey’ is a bit like using the term ‘Burgundy’ or ‘Blue Cheese’. The analogy is that the former could be a bottle of Santenay or the latter a wedge of Roquefort, but those are normally more specifically identified as such, whereas a regional bottling of a fine Pinot Noir or another ‘blued’ sheep’s milk cheese will merit a more general designation. Similarly, we here at Tea Trekker often have several teas that could be named ‘Golden Monkey, but we provide a more specific origin for those harvests. We reserve the ‘Golden Monkey’ title for a tea that is from the region in eastern China that is home to fine teas that are wonderful and distinctive in a certain style, but the pluck of which has not been kept separate, so the tea does not have a more specific harvest designation.
We here at Tea Trekker normally offer two ‘Golden Monkey’ lots. One is often small leaf and the other large, because they do show quite differently. At the moment we have two Bai Lin offerings and one Golden Monkey. We also offer a Wai Shan Lao Shu, and a Jin Jun Mei (or two!), all of which most tea professionals would consider to be in the same ‘family’.
This batch of Golden Monkey (our ‘Extra-Tippy)’, is in the style of what we believe to be the ‘original’ Panyang Congou style: small-ish leaf, well-plucked and nicely twisted, with an even, slightly cacao-y aromatic, with flavor that is mounted on a super smooth body. The aromatic is pleasant and inviting and the aftertaste is pleasantly ‘returning’, in the Chinese fashion.
This delicious, full-flavored tea can be drunk neat (in the Asian style) or can be served with almost any normal additive, except lemon – yuk!