|"Occasionally, I run into caramel, malt, and a robust "hint" of cocoa, but this was like smelling chocolate leaf dipped in nutmeg."|
Prior to hearing about Silk Road, I hadn't heard of Golden Monkey. The only Chinese black (or red) teas I'd filed away for future tastes were Keemun, Dian Hong (preferably Yunnan Gold), and Lapsang Souchong. And for the most part, I thought those were the only three black tea categories in China. Then along comes a new one from my favorite of all the provinces - home of Bai Hao Yinzhen (Silver Needle white tea) - Fujian. Due to its origins, it's no surprise that it's considered the counterpart to Silver Needle.
The dry leaves themselves were peculiar to look at; brown and gold, twisted needles with a similar appearance to a second flush pekoe. Their aroma was more unusual, imparting a creamy chocolate note on first whiff. Occasionally, I run into caramel, malt, and a robust "hint" of cocoa, but this was like smelling chocolate leaf dipped in nutmeg.
Brewing instructions per their site called for a two-to-three-minute steep at a temperature of 195F-205, basically a light boil. I measured out a rounded teaspoon - on the hefty side - with the leaves, infused in 8oz of 200F-ish water for three minutes.
At the tail end of the infusion time recommended, the liquor brewed to amber with a nose similar to roasted barley or chestnuts. Malt was also somewhere in the aromatic finish. The taste kept with this pattern, yielding a nutty taste in the beginning. Swished around a little, it settled into a creamy, caramel-like cup - nut aspect still there but subdued. As lauded, it had no astringency or bitterness. If I were to draw an immediate comparison, I would say it reminded me of a Nepalese black with its faint orange pekoe comparison.
The first prize for Chinese blacks still goes to Yunnan Golden Buds (or Needles, however you want to say it). This supersedes Keemun by a pretty fair margin, and - of course - Lapsang is left in its delicious dust. This is a black tea I will happily return to.
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