This tea is grown in the foothills of the southern slope of Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in southern Anhui province. The area is famous for its numerous scenic peaks, rivers, and lakes. The mountain is perpetually shrouded in clouds and mist making it an ideal environment for tea growing.
Houkui Tea Varietal
Taiping Hou (“monkey”) Kui (“chief” or “the best”) ranks among China’s ten most famous teas. Its name is commonly translated as “Monkey King” and refers to the tea’s origins. In the early 1900’s, a tea grower named Kui Cheng made improvements to a common Taiping county tea varietal called Jian Cha. In his honor, the new varietal was named “Kui Jian”. Because the best Kui Jian tea was from the village of Hou Keng (“Monkey Hollow”) in Taiping county, people began referring to the tea as “Taiping Houkui”. Though originating in Taiping County, it is now grown in several areas around Huangshan.
Unique Processing Technique
The interesting shape of the leaf comes from a very unique processing technique. Tip bud and young leaf sets are pan-fired, pressed flat between layers of cloth in a bamboo basket, then spread out to cool. The process is repeated several times before the leaf is gently roasted in a bamboo basket over a charcoal fire to finish. The woven pattern of the cloth covers the leaves in a wonderfully intricate crisscrossing pattern.