Friday, June 27, 2008

White Monkey Tea

White Monkey Tea

I have no idea why a green tea is called "White Monkey" because it's not white tea, nor do its leaves resemble a white monkey's fingers. It's leaves and buds vaguely appear to have a facsimile to a clenched, white fist, so perhaps that's where they got the name from. Plus, "White Fist" sounds sort of like a racially charged energy drink.


The taste is really unique, because it's common. Imagine the way a steak or any cut of meat might taste, especially its savoriness or the umami component. If well prepared, all meats share this certain flavor. Now, imagine what the steak or cut of meat would taste like if you were able to increase its umami by 1000. You might end up with something akin to eating crisco with bacon bits on it. Too much of this good flavor would ruin the meat, similar to adding too much salt to a dish, rendering it unpalatable.
This analogy is applicable to White Monkey. It has a green tea flavor that is shared by all green teas. But most green teas have varied flavor components that yield different types of teas. Not so with White Monkey. It's like green tea on steroids. It's overwhelmingly green, and if I really concentrate, I can detect a little sweetness, (Or is that chlorophyll?) but this takes a backseat while the spinach and asparagus taste charge forward. To briefly understand what this tastes like, wash an asparagus stalk and just munch on it. After about every third munch, sprinkle a pinch of sugar on the stalk and continue munching. This tea tastes exactly like that.
UPDATE: I've decreased my steeping time from 1 1/2 minutes to just 30 seconds. This has cut down on the overwhelming taste, but it's still present and hasn't improved with the lower temperature and less steeping.


White monkey smells faintly like leafy vegetables and a little bit of oolong. Unlike most of the teas I've tried, its smell doesn't tell you what you're about to taste.


For this tea, I covered the bottom of my cup infuser with a small layer of leaves (probably 3/4 tablespoon) and steeped for 1 1/2 minutes at 180-190 Fahrenheit. I really don't think you'd want to steep at a higher temperature or for much longer, because you'll get a really grassy, strong tasting cup of tea.

Looking at, I'm not alone in my opinion that this is a strong, green tea, despite their description of it being "a very light cup that is noticeably sweet, and infused with a fresh, delicate scent." Fresh, yes. Delicate, not quite. A second infusion for 30 seconds at a lower temperature yielded a milder cup, with very little flavor or tea character except for a spinach/asparagus taste. Perhaps I should throw out the first infusion, and just enjoy the second and third infusions, but that seems a shame, especially when there are much better teas to enjoy.
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