This famous Chinese green tea comes from the foothills of Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in Anhui province. Its name is often translated as Monkey Leader, although locals call this tea Jiancha or Pointy tea. Its appearance is so characteristic it can't be confused with any other tea although, like most famous Chinese teas, it is often copied and imitated. Authentic Hou Kui tea grows deep in the shaded Huangshan valleys and the leaves develop their unique color in this naturally shaded terroir. The leaves are of a rare, local, big-leaf varietal known as Shi Da Cha and can be 10-15 cm long. The leaves are plucked as strikingly beautiful sets of “two knives and one pole” or two long leaves and a big juicy bud. They are a mix of dark and fluorescent green with red a scaly, grilled finish that it gets during its processing when it's pressed between meshes with a roller during the low-fire baking process to make them really flat and straight. This tea is quite light and refreshing with notes of fresh bamboo, wet hay, apricot and steamed green beans. Such large leaves such as these are best brewed either as Bowl Tea or in an open gaiwan or shiboridashi where you pour the hot water over the leaves and they gradually become bend flexibly into the vessel.
It's also a very interesting tea to brew with the “ice-fire” technique. For this, just take a tall glass, add 3 grams of the long Hou Kui leaves so they are standing straight. Add a couple of ice cubes and then pour boiling water into the glass while aiming around the circumference. Cover and leave for 6 minutes. You'll get a very smooth balanced first steeping. For subsequent steepings just use water at 80 degrees.
Origin: Huangshan, Anhui, China
Harvest: May, 2021
Color of liquor: light pastel yellow-green
Aroma: fresh bamboo, wet hay
Flavor: light, refreshing, apricot, steamed green beans
Temperature: 80º c
Steeping time: 2min, 2min, 3min...