This tea from the Anhui Province is one of China’s top ten teas. It is grown in the beautiful Huangshan Mountains, in an area that is only accessible by boat and a hard climb. The northern slopes of this outstanding beauty spot offer the ideal growing conditions for the special, pointed, tender leaves, with rain for half the year and the shade of clouds and mist the rest. It is delightful to watch the dark green leaves unfurl and dance in the water, like a swimming dragon. The great care that is taken when picking and the skilled, gentle heat drying ensure that these unusually straight leaves remain in perfectly whole condition. Its subtle, flowery taste is due to the fact that as the buds appear, an abundance of wild orchids bloom all over the mountains at exactly the same time. The soft infusion is a special favourite of ours and can be described like, one imagines, drinking ‘heavenly cloud and mist’. The liquor remains good for several infusions. It was grown and made entirely by hand by Mr Hu, a farmer in the Xinming area of Taiping, in the fabled ‘Monkey Chasm’. Most other Taiping Houkui is made by machine. You can see the marks left on the leaf where it is flattened between pieces of material.
There is a sad story about the name of Taiping Houkui. "A long, long time ago, there were a couple of white monkeys who had a little baby, one day the baby monkey went out to play and got lost in the heavy mist. The old monkey went searching for it but couldn't find his son and got badly sick and died in the chasm. An old farmer found the dead monkey and buried him. That night the old farmer dreamed that the white monkey was telling him that he will do something to thank his kindness. The next Spring, when the old farmer came to the chasm again, he found there were green tea trees everywhere and a voice on the wind saying: "These tea trees are for you, it will make your life easier, please take care of them." The old farmer tended the tea tree well and named the tea as 'Peaceful Monkey' tea (Hou means monkey, Kui means the best, Houkui means monkey tea is the King tea). The chasm is located in Taiping County, so people call it Taiping Houkui."