Rare Chinese Monkey Picked Tea

Posted on September 16, 2007

Legend says that over ten centuries ago, upon seeing his master pick tea leaves, a monkey climbed up and collected the leaves and brought them down for his master.

Whether it be legend or simply a cheaper form of labor, the story has turned into a rare product that you can purchase and enjoy.

Monkey Picked Tea is a rare tea that is carefully picked by specially trained monkeys in a remote mountain region of China.


It is claimed that none of the monkeys are mistreated or harmed in this process. They say that the monkeys are treated as respected members of their family.

We have not been able to find any pictures of any monkeys actually picking tea leaves, but we did find this one video that shows a girl whip a camera around and claim the monkey was picking tea… you be the judge.

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43 thoughts on “Rare Chinese Monkey Picked Tea

    1. Shlee

      It may be easy for the original tea pickers to have monkeys pick tea; They have to train the monkeys first then go through the bag and make sure they did pick all the right leaves. I think it is harder than this site make it look. Do your reaserch befor you post stuff~ lol

  1. Casual Adventurer

    There’s nothing wrong with monkey labour…… Just provide them with little hat’s, sunscreen and some suitable non slip working gloves to cover workplace health and safety requirements……… Include a nice cool lunch room with fresh bananas……. Actually it sound’s like a good job, where do I sign up…..

    1. DS3M

      Come come now, we all know China has no worker health or safety standards…
      Ain’t no Chinese OSHA.
      They can’t even patrol products that leave their shores… Lick a Thomas the Tank Engine or a Dora the Explorer (Which I frequently did before I heard of the recall) and get lead poisoning! Good Times!

    2. billyjean111

      Good sense of humour…

      I wish my neighbor who is very annoying can do that.
      I train him to pick leaves from the trees just for the sake of it. He is noisey old man thinking he owns the flats.

  2. toneii

    “Monkey packing music makes me fine.” Am I the only one who hears this in the song Red Red Wine? maybe they knew about these monkeys and wrote the song for them

  3. The Idea Of Progress

    I’ve had this kind of tea before (not the same brand pictured–the one I had came in a tin) and it was pretty tasty.

    But it’s not as weird as Kopi Luwak, the type of coffee beans that have to be digested and pooped out by monkeys. Now, I hear that shit (pun intended) is supposed to be fantastic, but I’ve never had it for two reasons:

    1) It’s extremely expensive and

    2) It’s been pooped out by monkeys

    If you’re interested, theres more info here.

  4. Doug Tea

    As much as I’d love to believe it I’m a bit skeptical. Its sold all over the place at Firebox, Edible, Selfridges, etc. Even a village packed with monkeys would struggle!

  5. Kal

    Time for a little Chinese tea lesson. “Monkey-Picked” is a special type of Tie Guan Yin tea (“Tie” means iron, “Guan Yin” is the bodhisattva of compassion), which in turn is premium oolong tea. Monkey-Picked differs from regular Tie Guan Yin in that the species of trees for this tea grows on cliffs. Tea leaf harvesters need to hang off the cliff with a rope in order to get to the tea trees. The harvester looks like a monkey climbing around the cliff when he/she is working, which is where the name of the tea came from.

    1. Bob

      Actually tie means tea. It’s the tea of Guan Yin the “Iron Goddess of Mercy”.Monkey picked tea is oolong tea that is rolled. If you look at premium oolong tea much of it appears to be rolled into little balls and is rather sloppily rolled, hence monkey picked. Now there is the legend of the farmer that kept the temple of Guan Yin very clean and he was very devout. As a reward to the farmer when he could not get his crop in, Guan Yin called upon the monkeys to help the farmer and save the crop. That is where the legend of monkey picked comes from.

  6. ablather

    Kimi, Sorry to burst your bubble, but Kal is right, it is actually NOT PICKED BY MONKEYS, rather a TYPE of Tie Guan Yin tea, and judging by the photo, the leaves looks like a lower grade.

  7. Peter Martin

    Actually my Chinese and Taiwanese sources confess monkey picked tea is simply a myth, like Excalibur and Merlin. No tea company actually uses the method, they say, and therefore this video is just monkeys picking leaves of a more ordinary variety. Just do a google of monkey picked tea, and nine out of ten sites will admit there is no such product, though it has been done in small yet non cost-productive attempts at efficient picking practice.

  8. a baker's cousin

    i sound like such a nerd for knowing this, but i used to work at a tea store. monkeys were, at one time, used to pick the tea leaves. now they have cranes that help them reach the high leaves.
    so really, they’ve just changed which animal does the job. haha.. hah.. ha…

  9. asdasd

    monkey picked tea is actually quite expensive because monkeys have nimble fingers, so the tea they pick is better quality then the tea picked by human hands.

  10. anonymousgirl

    In the Philippines, a special coffee here is made out of some rodent sh*t! its clean though and expensive.

  11. Mr. Stinky

    monkey picked tea is not picked by monkeys…it is a Chinese legend. I have heard different variations of this story, but the basic story is that monks trained monkeys to pick tea leaves from the highest trees on the tallest mountains that no man could reach. “Monkey-Picked” means highest quality or best tea, hand rolled and fired by a tea master. Ti Quan Yen does mean Iron Goddess. And is considered to be one of the best/well known oolong teas….yum yum.

  12. Beerman Cold Beer

    So, can i get a gift set of some Monkey Tea and some of that weird coffee that is pooped out of a cats butt? Then I would have my morning beverage needs taken care of…

  13. Richard

    You have got to be kidding me. First, if a monkey did pick it, I wonder how really this is possibly an advantage as perhaps the monkey might like poison ivy leaves better than you think. When one is bored, a rash can be entertainment. On the other hand, even the manufacturer/seller cannot come up with a video of monkeys picking the leaves, so they use a clip shot by some kid with a cell phone. Believe what you want, but my throat is not big enough to swallow this.


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