Review: Silk Road Teas Monkey Picked (Ma Liu Mie)

Oolong Tea, Silk Road Teas, Ti Kuan Yin Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The taste was equally as light, yielding something more like a Bai Mu Dan by way of a verbena leaf; almost a cream-citrus lean."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.3/10
Other Teaviews: Chelsy gave it 7.0/10, Jamie gave it 7.5/10, Katie gave it 7.1/10, Shaiha gave it 7.3/10, Vanessa gave it 7/10, Melanie gave it 9/10
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Tie Guanyin is one of the most revered of all oolongs, and not just because it bears a goddess's name. The process used to prepare the leaves is unbelievably complex - various stages of cooling, drying, tossing, etc. Leaves for the type are also typically close to a green tea in appearance and oxidation, and as such, more rigid steeping is required to brew it right. The "monkey-picked" sub-variety stems from a legend that the choicest leaves for Tie Guanyin grew on cliff-faces. Monkeys were trained to pick the leaves and bring them back for cultivation. While the claim holds no basis in fact, the name stuck.

The dry leaves for Silk Road's Monkey Picked were dark green with the appearance of crumbled bits of paper - clumped and rock-like. The aroma they gave off I likened to asparagus. I don't like asparagus, but I will admit I like the greenery scent of it. I also thought I detected something milky about the scent toward the end.

Brewing instructions on the Silk Road site called for an infusion in 185F-200F water with only a one-minute steep. The reason for this was unclear, but it was likely similar to pu-erh steepings in finding different flavor notes after short bursts. I honestly wasn't that finicky, so I went with 190F for two minutes; 1 tsp in 8oz of water.

The result was a near-transparent yellow liquor with a distinctly Ti Guanyin nose. The fragrant steam was fruity, floral with just a tinge of bitterness on the back. The taste was equally as light, yielding something more like a Bai Mu Dan by way of a verbena leaf; almost a cream-citrus lean. On future attempts, I believe it could handle another minute or 5 degrees to the infusion. As it stands, though, it's probably the subtlest of oolongs I've tried to date with an interesting character to offer. Monkey-flung or no.

— To purchase Silk Road Teas Monkey Picked (Ma Liu Mie), or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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