Brewing Hou Kui Green Tea Grandpa Style

Brewing Hou Kui Green Tea Grandpa Style


Hey Teaheads. This is Don from Mei Leaf. In
this video: Brewing Hou Kui, “Grandpa” Style. In this video I’m going to introduce you to
this tea, we’re going to SCOPE it, and then we’re going to taste it, “Grandpa” style.
This video is going to go under the “Teamaster Class” and the “Single Tea Tasting” playlists.
If at any point in time you enjoy this video then please give the thumbs-up. The more thumbs
in the air, the more tea videos are going to come your way. If you haven’t subscribed
to our YouTube channel then go click that button. So, some of you have already heard of Hou
Kui. Hou Kui is also known as “Monkey King”, or “Monkey Picked” tea. It’s a relatively
new tea, invented around a hundred years ago – so the early 1900s in An Hui province. This
tea has a few legends behind it, in terms of its naming. One of the legends is that
a farmer discovered a monkey that passed away, and he buried the monkey, and that monkey
blessed the farmer by giving him some visions, when he was sleeping, to go into the forest
and find this special tea plant to produce this amazing tea. The second story is that birds were flying
and they dropped seeds from the heavens down onto the mountains of An Hui province for
this special tea plant. But the farmers felt that the trees were growing in areas that
were too dangerous for them to pick, and so they sent specially trained monkeys – with
their perfectly padded fingers – to scuttle up the trees, pluck the tea, and bring it
back to the farmer. Again, that’s not true. Anybody who tells you that it’s really monkey-picked
tea is telling you a lie. But “Monkey Picked” became designated to high quality tea, and
especially this Hou Kui tea. Another story is that this tea comes from Hou Keng village
– or area – in An Hui province, which is true. “Hou” means monkey in Chinese, and the farmer
who made the recipe to make this tea had the name “Kui” in his name, and so the two are
put together, “Hou” and “Kui”, and therefore, that’s how it’s named. It’s a relatively new tea, but it has quickly
become one of the most revered Chinese green teas, and is often given as gift tea to businessmen,
politicians, etc. It has something of a cache about it. It has something very special about
it. When you hear people talking about Hou Kui, and when you see these beautiful, amazing,
leaves – which I’ll show you very soon – there’s just something very special about this green
tea. Anyway, let’s SCOPE the tea. The season for this is – obviously, with all green teas,
the high quality is – spring picked. There are summer-picked Hou Kui. I would avoid them.
You need to get spring-picked. However, the growing season for this plant is a little
bit later than normal green teas, so around the middle of April the beginning of May.
The cultivar is the Shi Da Ping Zhong cultivar. This is quite a special cultivar. The leaves
are pointed, and they just grow slightly larger than the average Sinensis tea cultivar. That’s the cultivar. The origin, this comes
from An Hui province, and specifically Hou Keng, which is in Tai Ping county. So Tai
Ping county, An Hui province. Hou Keng is the name of the area, and there are a few
villages around Hou Keng. Hou Keng means “Monkey Pit”, and so that is really the only place
to get proper Hou Kui. “P” stands for “Picking and Processing”. This is a very labour-intensive
tea. Around one kilogram of this tea is about 20,000 pickings. So it’s a very light tea
– and therefore you need a lot of it in order to make one kilo – but also it is very labour
intensive. What they do is pick the bud, and usually three of four leaves, they pluck them,
bring them back to the processing area where they’re going to make the Hou Kui. They then
refine the plucking, so they’ll pluck the coarse leaves off. That usually leaves a bud and two leaves,
maybe a bud and three leaves, depending on how tender the leaves are. Then they wither
it slightly, to allow it to soften. Then they pan fry it over a hot heat, but very, very
quickly, in order to fix the green – in other words, deactivate the enzyme in the leaf that
causes oxidation. Then after that they hand-flatten them on meshes. Then they cover the mesh,
so you see this criss-cross pattern. I can quickly show you, hopefully, some of this
criss-cross pattern. Let me see if I can find one that is particularly criss-crossy. See
if you can see that. You might be able to get a close-up of that… So what they do
is flatten them by hand – so they lay them all out by hand, over a silk, or some kind
of a cloth, mesh – and then they cover it with another cloth mesh. Then they clamp them together and roll them
with these rollers. What that rolling does is it starts to extract some of the essential
oils. It makes the tea more flavourful. Then they dry them. They dry them in racks, at
different temperatures, starting at a hotter temperature – at 100, or a bit more than 100
degrees Celcius – and then they reduce the temperature by moving the racks around different
ovens. The whole baking process takes about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. After that
they will cure the leaf. They’ll sometimes put them in containers to draw more of the
moisture out. But it is a very labour-intensive tea, and it is all handmade. So the price
of the Hou Kui also represents the effort that has gone into it. Finally, in our SCOPEing,
“E” stands for elevation. Just like most teas in this area, this is not a super-high elevation
tea. We’re talking about 350 to 450 meters. What
you really want is to find tea that is picked from the north side of the mountains, because
there is more mist there, there’s less sun and that means that the tea grows slower,
and therefore can be rich and flavourful, but without developing too many of the catechins
which make the tea potentially go bitter. So what you want to look out for with Hou
Kui is long leaves – around three to five centimeters. You want to see that it is relatively
translucent, or very light. So you can see how the light can really travel through this
leaf, and you can see that it’s a nice light green. Obviously, where the buds and the leaves
are compressed together it’s more dark, but if you look down at this part here you can
see how light green they are. You can see how sharp and pointed these leaves are. This
is from the right cultivar, which is a Zhen Cha, a pointed cultivar of tea. Okay. So we’ve SCOPEd the tea. Now, let’s
taste the tea. Now, normally, I would be brewing this Gong Fu style. I want to make it very,
very clear, from the outset, that I still believe that with any teas the best way to
taste the flavour is Gong Fu style. But “Grandpa” style – or glass brewing – is something that’s
very popular in China, and there are some teas that I think are suited to “Grandpa”
style, or glass brewing, and this is one of them. The reason is because this tea is grown
in relative shade. As I said, it’s mostly grown on the north side of the mountain, where
there’s a lot of cloud cover, and so it doesn’t get a huge amount of sunlight. Because of
that, it is more delicate. It is more light. It hasn’t developed those catechins that are
in other green teas – especially teas from Zhejiang, or from Sichuan, or from Japan – and
therefore it is less susceptible to going bitter when it is kept in hot water for a
long period of time. That is why this tea is suitable for “Grandpa”
style, or glass brewing. Let me show you how to do that. For Gong Fu style I would be recommending
around 2 grams per 100 ml. But for “Grandpa Style” we are going to be using about 300
ml – 400 ml up to the top, but we’re not going to fill it to the top – so about 300 ml, and
I’d be looking at something like around half a gram to a gram per 100 ml. So I’m going
to eyeball it here and say this is probably about 2 grams. One of the amazing things about
this tea is that the leaves look very large, but because – if they’re good quality – they’re
very, very thin, and extremely light. So this quantity here is around 2 grams, and
I would say that’s around eight leaves. Now, hot water. We’re brewing with about 85 degrees
Celcius here; so green tea temperature – 80 to 85 degrees. Pour in a circular motion,
if you can, just to try to agitate the leaves. As I said, we’re not going to go straight
to the top. Immediately, you can see that the leaves are starting to soften up, and
the liquor is starting to change colour, but it’s very, very light. It’s a really, really
light tea. This is what I love about this tea. The reason I love Hou Kui is it’s lightness.
If you look at provinces in China, Zhejian and Sichuan province and the other green tea
growing provinces, they differ from An Hui. An Hui teas just seem much lighter, much purer.
I don’t mean the others are not pure. I just mean that the taste is very elegant, very
delicate, and very pure. It’s almost like taking water and purifying. You’re not getting
a huge amount of complexity in flavours, but what you’re getting is a delightful elegance
that comes from An Hui green tea. So if you look at like Huang Shan Mao Feng, or “Misty
Peak”, that’s another really lovely green tea from An Hui province, which is, again,
very light. You get the fresh notes, and you get less of the kind of umami, astringency,
and the depth of the other provinces. This has been, I would say, about a minute, and
you’re ready to drink. So, with “Grandpa” style – or glass brewing
– you’re leaving the leaves in the water, and then you’re just topping up with water.
What you want to make sure you do is not finish the tea. You drink up to about a third, leave
some of the liquor there before you refill. That way you’re not starting from scratch,
in terms of brewing process, but you’re taking the concentrated tea and basically diluting
it and allowing it to brew again. As you get further on with your infusions you can cover
the glass, in order to try and extract more, maintain the heat a little bit more, because
obviously, as it brews it will extract less and less, as it’s been infused more times.
Okay. Cheers. Let’s taste this “Grandpa” style. So, you can see the colour. It’s very light. It’s a nice, light, vibrant green, and obviously
that’s going to change as it brews longer. One of the wonderful things about this tea,
and other Anhui teas, is that you have the purity of taste, but you have a wonderful
aroma. A very floral aroma. I’m getting a lot of orchid aroma here, so a lot of fresh
floral. Fresh grassy aroma but the taste is very gentle. There’s no bitterness. There’s
not bite. It’s very, very soft. If you are somebody out there wants to drink green tea,
but find that green tea can be a bit too strong for you – maybe you feel that it’s too strong
in effect, it’s too strong in flavour; maybe you feel it’s too vegetal, it’s too umami,
it’s got too much of those savoury notes, or too much intense grassy notes – then I
would really, strongly suggest that you start to explore An Hui province, and the two teas
that you should explore are “Misty Peak” – of Huang Shan Mao Feng – and Hou Kui, or “Monkey
Picked” or “Monkey King” tea. You’re going to get exactly what you want
out of a green tea, which is lightness, freshness, aroma, but without that heaviness that can
come from some of the other green tea provinces. What I’m smelling, and what is coming through
my nose when I breath out, is the orchid and the floral. The texture is quite light, relatively
thin, but the taste has got a slight spice to it. I would refer to a kind of nutmeg spice.
The tea also has a very light creaminess to it, similar to… a milk, or egg, custard,
but very, very light with a sprinkling of nutmeg over it. I’m talking very, very light. The predominance
of the taste is very pure and refreshing. It’s got grassy notes freshly cut grass. It’s
got some green bamboo in it, but it’s all really, really light. You can see that this
leaf is sitting in here, and it’s honestly not going bitter at all. It’s maintaining
its freshness. Now, as I said, I would always recommend Gong Fu style over any other style
of brewing. If you brew Gong Fu style you’re going to get the ultimate freshness. There
are not going to be any stewed notes as this moves on it’ll start to develop a bit of a
stewed note, which some people like and some people don’t like. But it’s a great way to
drink tea, because there’s nothing to it, right? You’ve got your glass, kettle – or
thermos – of hot water, you just keep refilling throughout the day. This is often the way they brew in China.
If you’re traveling around with tea leaves, you go into a taxi, you see people with their
thermoses and leaves just sitting there refilling with water. So this glass brewing, or “Grandpa”
style brewing is certainly something that is done a lot in China, but not when you want
full tea appreciation. It’s something that is just an enjoyable, simple way to brew tea.
Storage of this is really important. Make sure you keep this out of the air. This is
one of those teas that will change very, very quickly, so keep it sealed very, very well.
Ideally airtight, in foil packages. Really take care with this tea. What you’ll see starts
to happen is the size starts to shrink, and everything starts to get darker, and you know
that you’re losing some of the freshness of it, and those aromatic bright notes will start
to deaden down slightly. Not a big deal, but obviously you want to
drink it in its prime condition. This is one you want to make sure you drink as fresh as
possible. Okay. I hope that that has introduced you to this incredible tea. We’ll put a link
to purchase this tea in the description below. I hope that this interests you in Grandpa
style brewing. It’s not suitable for all teas, but certainly for Hou Kui it definitely works.
That’s it Teaheads. If you made it to the end of this video then please give the thumbs-up.
Check out our YouTube playlists. And let us know if there are any videos that
you would like us to make. If you’re ever in London then come visit us in Camden to
say “Hi!” and taste our wares. If you have any questions or comments then please fire
them over. Other than that, I’m Don Mei from Mei Leaf. Thank you for being a part of the
revelation of true tea. Stay away from the tea bags, keep drinking the good stuff, and
spread the word, because NOBODY deserves BAD tea. Bye.

22 thoughts on “Brewing Hou Kui Green Tea Grandpa Style”

  1. Hello, Don. Would you make a video about water? I read some articles about what water should be used for brewing a tea and each and every one tells me do something different (eg to filter the water or to use bottled water (not mineral), etc). What is your opinion? Thank you

  2. Don, thank you for the video; very informational! Thank you for the purist videos. I'm learning a ton from your base of knowledge!

  3. Such a beautiful tea! As your videos Don they are getting better and better! How cool is the glowing peach halo behind your pink shirt! Lovely.

  4. As always great video 🙂 Think simplicity in your videos is one of the best things for them right along side with your knowledge. Nice to see different kind of brewing for a change. I'm missing drinking with friends videos – maybe it's time to think of a new one? They are always so nice and filled with honesty, everyday life, tea-lovers atmosphere not some directed acting. Take care and keep bringing YouTube the good stuff :))

  5. Would you consider hosting a video discussing the differences between Japanese and Chinese tea? In the course of your video, it will likely be obvious why you focus on Chinese tea. I continue to learn from your videos. Thank you.

  6. Do you send tea samples with the purchase of an article from your shop? I've seen that many tea houses do it but I couldn't find it on your webpage.

  7. What teas would you recommend with the highest level of caffeine, and a tea for relaxation? And any other tea to enjoy, I am open to any suggestions. Thanks

  8. This tea a nightmare to ship from China because the leaves are so delicate. You did a great job to import it to the UK without any damage to it.

  9. Hello! So I live on the west coast, would i have anything to worry about when ordering certain teas from china? like would there be any risk of damage to the product? thanks, just wondering because ive recently been getting into tea and would love to delve deeper into the more authentic and diverse products

  10. Just got a bag of this from your shop! 🙂 Very much looking forward to try it out! But now the question is, shall I begin a brewing session now at 7pm and risk to get too much caffeine and stay awake for the night (and unavoidably keep spending my awake time sipping the granpa-style hou kui), or just wait for the morning (but then again still risking not to be able to fall asleep for the excitement of having a bag of this not yet tasted tea)??

  11. I like the Bodum double-wall glass mugs for Grandpa brewing. I brew Tie Guan Yin this way. When most of the leaves have sunk the tea is ready. It's primitive yet elegant, pretty, and the least amount of fuss.

  12. I was first introduced to as you say 'Grandpa style' in large tea house Yangzhou. The one major advantage besides simplicity is you get to watch with each filling of water that the leaves dance and settle. The best I was told drop to the bottom and stand like little soldiers by my vendor host.

  13. My family and I recently returned from a trip to 黄山 city in Anhui province. My mother bought about 50 grams of chrysanthemum flowers and about 100 grams of houkui tea leaves there. However, the tea shop owner recommended that we rinse the leaves (he poured away the liquor of the first glass). Is this ok Don?
    (Came quite late into this vid, only discovered your channel a few days ago, great videos!)

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