Wanting a black tea that was smooth and not too strong, I bought some Golden Monkey. It smells slightly sweet, and tastes a little like chocolate and malt. The color is rich, the flavor subtle. Even the second and third steeping was mellow, with beautiful color. The taste lingers on the tongue long after the tea is consumed.
As to the name, I always wonder where someone came up with Golden Monkey. Was Happy Hippo already taken? Makes no sense to me, even when I am told that the leaves resemble the feet of monkeys. Does the photograph look like monkey feet to you?
Most tea drinkers are aware that black tea is the most consumed tea in the world, and yet, there are vast taste differences in black tea. Teas coming from India and Sri Lanka (Assam and Earl Grey) are strong, sometimes harboring an astringent taste. This is where milk and maybe sugar help.
Golden Monkey was a Chinese tribute tea, meaning, it was paid in tribute to China’s Emperor. And only the Emperor drank it. However, there is no longer any Emperor, so everyone drinks Golden Monkey. Lucky us.
Black tea goes through a process of withering, rolling, roll-breaking, sifting, oxidation, and grading to become the finished product. That is a lot of steps, and opportunities, to get it either delightful or tedious. Which may explain why some teas are more expensive and complex than others. You can literally taste the difference.
You have an opportunity to taste scads of tea Oct 4th and 5th at the NW Tea Festival, at Fischer Pavilion at Seattle Center, in Seattle. Mark the date, enjoy the experience.