Taiping Houkui (太平猴魁; tàipíng hóukuí) - A Variety of Green Tea from China
Taiping Houkui (太平猴魁; tàipíng hóukuí) is a variety of green tea grown in the Anhui Province of China. The name means "Taiping monkey king". The Taiping Houkui variety was developed relatively recently, being only about 100 years old, and is characterized by tea shoots that can be as long as 15 centimeters.
The tea leaves are much larger than other varieties, and the shape is called "two knives and one pole", referring to two straight, deep green leaves clasping an enormous bud with white hairs. The tea leaves were traditionally fried or roasted in a pan or wok, but a modern innovation is the use of a reciprocal shaker placed atop a charcoal fire. After this initial roasting to inactivate the fermentation enzymes, the tea goes through three stages of drying on bamboo trays at progressively lower temperatures: 100°C, 85°C and 60°C. After this the tea leaves are sorted and packaged.
Since the Taiping Houkui tea leaves are so large, the beverage is often prepared in tall cups or glasses. The flavor of Taiping Houkui is described as long-lasting flavor with an orchid or violet aroma, especially on the first brewing, with a vegetal undertone of wet hay and steamed green beans, with a smooth, mellow and sweet aftertaste.