Fujian Province – treasure box of famous Chinese tea classics
Fujian Province, located in the southeast of China is known worldwide for being the origin of a whole range of famous classic Chinese teas. From Anxi County in the south of the province comes Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea, probably the only Oolong tea that has achieved great popularity in circles even beyond the borders of the core tea lover community, for example among friends of flavored teas, due to its pure honey sweetness. Wuyishan in the upper north of Fujian’s known among tea lovers for its famous Rock or ‘Yancha’ Oolong Teas as well as renowned Wuyi black teas such as Lapsang Souchong or Jin Jun Mei, and Fuding County, covering the most northern east tip of the province is virtually synonymous with the cradle of white tea and its traditional two variants, Fuding Pai Mu Tan (also: Bai Mu Dan) and Fuding Silver Needle.
Jin Mao Hue Golden Monkey Black Tea
After having been all over teas from Fujian for the better part of three years, in order to fill the positions at Siam Tea Shop with qualified teas from Anxi, Fuding and Wuyishan respectively, we were quite astonished when one day samples of just another Fujian tea that we had never heard of so far made it into our cups right out of the blue, in a manner of speaking: ‘Jin Mao Hue’ or ‘Golden Monkey’, a black tea from Fu’an County, located halfway between Fuding and the city of Ningde in the northeast of Fujian. Even more astounding was that just this – rather low-priced – tea, which we had received for degustation with the best recommendations by one of our Chinese suppliers, should turn out to be an absolute cost-benefit hit and thereby a must for our offer at Siam Tea Shop.
Taste and appearance
The dry leaves of Jin Mao Hue Golden Monkey, consisting of mainly dark leaves/buds, interspersed with individual golden colored tips, owe their characteristic, slightly curled shape the typical black tea rolling process. In the fresh fruity cup, the tea shows a light, highly transparent orange color that is midway between amber and red.
Jin Mao Hue Golden Monkey Black Tea convinces with full-bodied taste and a complex, ever changing mouthfeel. The bold, caramel-sweet roast character is paired with a fresh and fruity note reminiscent of ripe peaches, with a faint touch of orchid. The aromatic combination formed this way is not only instantly pleasing, but survives on the human palate even long after sipping.
Nomenclature and background
The name Jin Mao Hue (chin.: 金毛猴) means as much as ‘Golden Monkey’ and is derived from the visual appearance of the ready rolled and dried tea leaves, reminiscent of a local monkey species’ golden hair. As an exception to the rule, of all Chinese teas, this black tea comes without any legend or known historical background, which might be one reason for its low degree of awareness.
Picking and processing
The tea comes from conventional cultivation and is picked with a 1+1 picking standard, i. e. always one young bud is handpicked together with its youngest pertaining leaf, before being subjected to traditional black tea processing. To do this, the freshly picked tea leaves are initially withered and then rolled by means of a mechanical process. This serves to break up the leaf surfaces, thereby triggering the oxidation process – a reaction of the leaf juices and enzymes with oxygen. Once the tea leaves have reached the desired degree of oxidation (often wrongly referred to as ‘fermentation’), the status quo is fixated through roasting at appropriate heat level, followed by a final drying run.
Principally, there are two possible approaches to the preparation of our Jin Mao Hue Golden Monkey Black Tea. One is to fully exploit the tea leaves in one singly infusion of 3-5 minutes, the other one to produce two comparably mild, but nevertheless delicious infusions with an infusion period of 2-3 minutes for a first and 4ß5 minutes for a second steep. The tea won’t develop any astringency even with longer infusion periods, making it well suitable both for friends of a bold roast note and a pronounced fruity body, who might tend to use the first mentioned approach, and for proponents of a mild and balanced taste body, who might rather fancy the second suggestion for approaching this tea. In both cases, we recommend to use 3-5g tea leaves poured over with 200-350ml water of a temperature of 90°C or beyond.