Review: White August Tea Golden Monkey

Black Tea, White August Tea Co. Add comments
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Teas as finely crafted as this one don’t come cheaply, but isn’t life too short to drink cheap tea? "
Lynn’s Teaview: 10/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 9.5/10, Vanessa gave it 8/10, Sophie gave it 8.9/10, Laura gave it 9.25/10, Chelsy gave it 8.5/10
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The name of this tea is fairly obvious. Golden Monkey teas are golden in color, like a Yunnan Gold, or at least sprinkled liberally with golden tips. Grown in Fujian Province, rather than Yunnan, the spring-picked leaves are smaller, and the one leaf-one bud cluster is traditionally said to resemble a monkey’s claw. I’ll let you form your own opinion on that. It’s a member of a family of teas known as Panyang Congou (Congou being a variation of the more familiar Kung Fu, which simply means “skillful”), carefully picked as one leaf-one bud clusters. The four grades are, in descending order, King Golden Needle (the finest leaf with the most tip), Golden Monkey, Golden Crab, and Panyang Congou, which has the largest leaves and the most concentrated flavor.

White August Tea Company’s Golden Monkey is GOLD, with hardly a dark bit to be seen. I opened my sample and inhaled: fine leather and freshly cut apricot, rather than the more robust malty leather-and-moist tobacco aroma of a Yunnan.

I steeped a generous teaspoon in 8 oz of 208F water for five minutes, hoping it wouldn’t go bitter on me. The liquor was a bright, coppery golden color, slightly cloudy, with a light bouquet—a little malty, a little leather, a little apricot. Flavor wise, it was far more delicate than a Yunnan: bright, brisk, silvery, sweet, smooth, with a hint of leather, a dash of tannins, and a soft, drying apricot finish that left me ready for more, in part because the finish was short-lived, apart from a certain brightness left to linger on the tongue. There wasn’t so much as a hint of bitterness. It would be an absolute crime to dilute this tea with any cream and sugar. It’s too light-bodied for that, and you don’t want to miss a note of its fine flavors. I have tasted more robust Golden Monkeys; this one is more delicate and refined. I’ve found that to be the case with those that are primarily golden tips. The last one I tested, which was darker in color, with golden tips mixed in, had an unmistakable, robust dark chocolate flavor, and lots of malt and finish. This golden one is much lighter on the tongue. Both are very good; they’re just different.

I was a bit skeptical about a second steep, given the delicacy of the first one, but the fact that it sells for $20 for just under two ounces made me at least try to squeeze out the last drop of precious flavor. I did another five minute infusion and to my considerable surprise, this was a good as the first cup! Color me impressed. I give black teas extra points for that.

Teas as finely crafted as this one don’t come cheaply, but isn’t life too short to drink cheap tea?

— To purchase White August Tea Golden Monkey, 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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