|"The dry leaves are a mix of golden tips and small, curled dark leaves and they smell wonderfully of malt and chocolate, with chocolate being the dominant note—pure, high quality cocoa powder. It's a mouthwatering combination for this black tea lover, one of the most fragrant blacks I've encountered."|
Andao's Organic Golden Monkey originates in China's Fujian Province and was harvested in the spring season, although the packaging does not specify the year. I would assume 2009.
The dry leaves are a mix of golden tips and small, curled dark leaves and they smell wonderfully of malt and chocolate, with chocolate being the dominant note—pure, high quality cocoa powder. It's a mouthwatering combination for this black tea lover, one of the most fragrant blacks I've encountered. They are fluffy, and fuzzy to the touch, too.
Andao suggests brewing this tea gong fu style, so I measured 6.5 g of dry tea into a warmed 200 ml Yixing teapot, filled it with 212F water and let it steep just 30 seconds. Multiple short steepings from 30 seconds to a minute are advised by the vendor. To be honest, this was the first time I brewed a black, or sek, tea in this manner. Golden Monkey is an especially fine black, though, and certainly worthy of the effort.
Thirty seconds produced a medium amber liquor. I drink the teas I test from a small glass so that I can appreciate the color. This one looked very much like an amber ale, without the bubbles. The fragrance was a sweet mix of malt, spice, caramel, and bittersweet chocolate. The flavor was sweet, smooth, mouth filling, with notes of malt, spice, cedar, and a hint of tobacco, with only a touch of astringency and a sweet, fresh finish with notes of honey and butter. The Golden Monkeys I have sampled tend to be light on the tongue and this one follows suit. The flavor is delicate rather than thick, as with some other Chinese blacks. This is a beautiful self drinker, with no need for cream or sugar.
A second infusion of 40 seconds produced a slightly darker, redder amber and the fragrance was made up of strong chocolate and spice notes. Initially when it was at its hottest the predominate flavor was bittersweet chocolate and some of the smokiness the vendor's description mentions. As it cooled, the fragrance increased, taking on notes of rich tobacco with the chocolate and smoke. There was less sweetness, but the other notes held true, together with the smoothness, pleasant astringency, and a hint of blackberry.
I pushed the third infusion to a minute, which produced another dark amber liquor almost identical to the second in appearance, but noticeably weaker in fragrance and flavor, although the finish is was still surprisingly present. I am impressed.
This is a delicious, organic black, and gong fu brewing is a very economical way to enjoy it. Highly recommended.
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