drank Monkey King by Sky Tea
46 tasting notes

Sky Tea was one of the vendors at the San Francisco International Tea Festival on February 25, 2012. They had a busy table, probably because they were pouring some of the most generous samples at the festival. Despite all of the buzz at the table, Jeni was good at taking time to answer my questions about the various teas on offer. This Monkey King really struck my fancy. It is made using a unique cultivar (shi-da) that grows a really long, thin leaf. While it’s an over-generalization to say that Chinese greens are fired and Japanese greens are steamed, I was very curious about this steamed Chinese green because of the relative rarity of that method.

Appearance: beautiful long leaves. The dry leaves are pressed really thin and distinctly preserve the leaf structures as they came off the plant. They look really pretty after steeping. Liquor: pretty jade green/yellow. Smell: soft vegetal. Taste: smooth, slightly grassy, slightly astringent, well-rounded green tea. The second infusion was deeper, because the leaves had opened already, and more pleasant. Perhaps because of the processing, it reminded me of something in between a Chinese dragon well (which is fired) and a good-quality Japanese sencha (which is steamed). While I really like the tea, I’m not sure that it’s worth the price. This isn’t saying that I think Sky Tea is overcharging for it, because it’s a unique, hand-processed tea that only comes from a specific part of China, and has to be carefully maintained to keep the leaves intact. But because it reminds me of dragon well and sencha, of which good quality options of both are readily available for less, I’m not sure that the uniqueness justifies the price. 8/10.

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Attorney in San Francisco. Recent convert to tea drinking, but I’m hooked. I also love experimenting with vegetarian food (meaning I rarely use recipes). Long time chocolate lover.

When I review a tea, I will identify the following information: Source – “Name.” Style, including loose, bag, or sachet. Appearance, referring to the appearance of the leaves dry. Liquor, referring to the appearance of the brewed drink. Smell, referring to the brewed liquor. Taste (self-explanatory). Other insights. Finally, I will give it a score from 1 to 10. Anything in the 1-3 range is something that I disliked and am unlikely to consume again. Anything in the 4-6 range is okay; I am not likely going to buy it again, but if I came across it and wasn’t paying (or past my fairly low caffeine tolerance for the day), I probably would consume again. Anything in the 7-9 range is something I liked, and the higher the score the more likely I will try to keep the particular tea around. I intend to use a 10 rating very rarely, and only for the very best.

General notes:

I don’t like milk or sugar in my tea, except for an Indian style chai masala and certain other exceptional cases. Many black teas are blended to be more on the bitter side, and thus to call for sugar to soften and round the flavors. When I think to try sugar in such a black, my review will note any difference between the straight and sugared taste. I’m doing that for the review process, because if something requires sugar, I’m unlikely to commit to it for one of my standard teas. I can’t imagine using sugar in a green, oolong, or white tea, so don’t expect that distinction in reviews of those types.


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