While researching tea during my lunch break earlier this afternoon, I came across the term "monkey-picked." Ladies and gentlemen, you can't just come across a term like that without researching it further.
Sidenote: There is an ADORABLE monkey picture coming your way very soon.
Here is what I learned: the term is commonly used to define high quality tea. When a tea company claims that they are selling you "monkey-picked" tea, you can bet that you are purchasing the best of the best tea leaves.
But the origin of the term . . . here is where the real monkeys enter the picture. Harvesting tea leaves was no easy task, especially once the demand for tea increased. That's when, apparently, monkeys became quite useful.
Various legends surround monkey-picking; one legend states that Buddhist monks trained monkeys to pick the leaves from tea trees that they deemed inaccessible. Another legend claims that the monks would throw stones at the monkeys in an effort to make them fall to the ground, thus breaking the branches containing the best of the best tea leaves on their way. What I consider the funniest legend--and perhaps the easiest to picture--involves villagers taunting the monkeys so much that the monkeys would get mad and retaliate by throwing handfuls of tea leaves at them.
Some people say that these legends are all bogus, but you know what? I wouldn't be mad if this little guy picked my tea leaves by hand. I guess the only problem would be trying to find a way to tip him.
Fiction, poetry, and all that good stuff . . .