Many of the specialty teas grown and produced in China are associated with folklore and legend. 100 Monkeys, a rare White Mao Feng tea from Hunan is no exception. In certain villages of that province, a pot of this tea is purported to ward off evil spirits. This belief stems from a centuries old tale that centers on an old tea grower and his wife who worked a small plot of land high in the hills. So the story goes, the couple were being terrorized by a renegade band of monkeys. Time and again, they woke up to discover that the night’s flush of new tea shoots had been pulled apart by the nimble thieves. They tried everything to stop the monkeys, from covering the crop with netting, to buying two large dogs to scare the group away. Nothing seemed to work.
In desperation the husband decided that he would have to travel over the mountains to a remote cave where it was rumoured that a shaman lived whom he could ask for help. The man packed his bag and set off. Upon reaching the cave, he explained his problem to the holy man. The holy man told him that he should go away and come back in 3 days for the solution to his dilemma. 3 days later the man returned and was given a recipe for a new type of tea written on a parchment. The holy man explained that since the monkeys always came looking for tea, if he gave them 100 pounds of this produced tea they would depart and never return. The grower thanked the holy man and set off for home. On the way he studied the new recipe, which was very complex. The tea was a variety of Mao Feng, which in English means white downy tips, (“mao” means white down and “feng” means tips.) The production method involved 11 steps, Hard work but it was worth a shot. The man and his wife spent the next week producing the new tea. Once they had 100 pounds, they left it out in a wooden chest near their tea patch. That night as usual they heard the monkeys descend on the farm, shrieking, and pounding the earth. The next morning, they rushed outside to find that the chest was empty. The monkeys had taken the tea, and as the legend goes, never returned again.
Whether or not you believe this ancient tale there is one thing you can be sure of - this is a spectacular Chinese tea. Somewhat stronger than many other white teas - you don’t think a light tea would ward off evil spirits or monkeys do you? - 100 Monkeys produces a profoundly complex cup. The leaves can be brewed a number of times and with each infusion subtle changes to the cup can be detected. This is truly one tea that you will wish to appreciate over and over - whether you’ve got a monkey to get off your back or not!
Hot Tea Brewing Method
Heat water to 80°C (180°F). Place 1-2 teaspoons of tea per cup into your teapot, and add 1 for the pot (for a more intense flavour, add a bit more tea). Pour the water into the pot and let it steep for about 3 minutes. Pour into your cup and enjoy.
Alternatively, put the tea in a tea infuser and brew right in your cup. When preparing by the cup, this tea can be used repeatedly - about 3 times.
Some like to brew this straight in the cup without an infuser, but be careful not to drink the leaves at the bottom of your cup. The pattern of the leaves is said to tell your fortune.
Milk not recommended for white tea.
Iced Tea Brewing Method
Make as for hot, but add extra tea - a rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the amount of tea used per cup. When the tea has cooled a little, pour over ice. It is important to make it a little stronger as the ice will water it down.
Alternatively, you can cold brew the tea by placing the tea leaves in a jug and adding cold water. Leave to infuse for a few hours (or overnight in the fridge) strain and enjoy. Cold brewing will give a smoother taste.
To make 1 litre of iced tea: Place 6 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant jug. Pour half a pint (275ml) of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving jug with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving jug while straining the leaves. Add ice and top up the jug with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste.
Simpli-Special - Tea as it Should be!