When Coca-Cola was invented in the early 1900’s, they had two main ingredients. The first was cocaine. Yes, the same cocaine that Al Pacino takes a nosedive into at the end of Scarface.
The second ingredient was the extract of the Kola Nut (Cola), which has a lot of caffeine. This is one of the main reasons why almost all sodas are caffeinated today.
So when you combine the two key ingredients, you have Cocaine–Cola or Coca-Cola for short.
Since the early 1900’s, Coca-Cola has not contained cocaine or Kola Nut. But, the name was so catchy they decided to keep it as “Coca-Cola.” So the name is pure marketing.
The Chinese learned this lesson from marketers and decided to create a unique and catchy sounding name for a new, high-end tea that they started producing just 15 years ago. They named it Golden Monkey.
Golden Monkey’s name has no origin
Most Chinese teas are named in a specific way. The first part is the location of the farm and the second is the style of leaf. So a “Keemun Mao Feng” is a “Mao Feng” style of leaf from the Keemun Region of China.
With Golden Monkey, it follows neither of these rules. The “Golden” part is due to the tea being made almost entirely of the tea leaves golden tips. The “Monkey” part is due to the term “monkey picked,” usually referring to the highest quality teas. Therefore, if you were to decipher the name, you would end up with “High-grade golden tea tips”
Golden Monkey used to be White Tea
Golden Monkey tea is grown in the coastal region of China’s Fujian Province. This area is known for producing white teas, specifically Silver Needles. In the 1990’s, tea sales were low so clever farmers decided to turn their prized Silver Needles into a black tea.
The tips are the sweetest part of the leaf
Having experience growing Silver Needles, the tea farmers knew that the tips were the sweetest part of the tea leaf. The reason is because, over the winter, the tea plants store all of their nutrients. When spring finally arrives, all the nutrients are pushed out in the first tea tips, which are then plucked and oxidized to create a beautiful, golden colored tea.
The flavor is the sweetest of all black teas
Since Golden Monkey is almost all tips, it has a very delicate and sweet flavor not normally found in black teas. It has notes of apricot with hints of semi-sweet chocolate. The finish is clean with notes of pecan.
Because there are so many sweet tips in Golden Monkey, it has a very light body that is close to the flavor found in an Oolong. So, if you like strong black teas this may be too light and sweet for you.
I am glad that the Chinese learned their marketing lessons from companies like Coco-Cola because Golden Monkey is one of the finest black teas to come out of China. Delicate and sweet, it is perfect for those who think that black teas all taste the same.