The Rise Of The Tea Picking Monkeys

The second half of a tale I started telling…here.

Picking tea was a path to the good life for generations of monkeys. And then innovation lifted the tea industry while it drove monkeys to the poor house.

The poor house is something I don’t know much about. I’m sure it exists because when I was a kid my father used to say “you’re going to drive me to the poor house”. The poor house didn’t seem like somewhere I wanted to send dad, so I changed my ways.

The Monkeys Find Themselves In Hot Water

The change that hit the tea industry hit the monkeys so fast that they had no chance to change their ways.

Hot water. A metaphor I can be proud of. (image public domain – wikimedia)

When tea was grown on trees, monkeys pulled down some serious cabbage harvesting the most savory tea leaves. Then a human realized that the trees could be trimmed to the size of bushes. Tea bushes meant that the crop could be harvested without the expense of paying a skilled simian labor pool. Hard times befell those tea harvesting monks. A lot of them probably saw the poor house.

The worst part was that even though monkeys were not picking tea anymore, the phrase “Monkey Picked Tea” was (and still is) used to market the product. But instead of meaning that monkeys were at work, the phrase now meant that a product contained higher quality tea leaves.

No trickle of the tea industry’s new profitability made it down to the monkeys who lost their jobs. Communities that had thrived were now steeped in misery. Without sufficient income, trouble brewed. Unsavory elements infused the once proud neighborhoods where the unemployed monkeys lived.

It’s Hard To Kick The Door Down, When You Ain’t Wearin’ Any Shoes*

A new hope began to rise from this blight. Inspired by some old-timer’s tales of the way things were, a group of younger monkeys wondered why it couldn’t be that way again. Why couldn’t the trees grow tall? Why couldn’t their kind harvest again? Did they dare to dream of self-reliance?

As it turns out, yes, they dared. But it is one thing to dare to dream of pulling yourself up by your boot straps. It is another to realize that you don’t have any boots. So, with the help of a government grant, the monkeys went to work. They formed a corporation and bought a tea plantation. Some of the money went toward sending young monkeys to good agricultural colleges.

Always ask – “Did a monkey pick this?” (image public domain via wikimedia)

When the young ones returned, they had new ways to grow the trees taller and fuller. As the tea trees reached for more sun, more monkeys went back to work at picking tea. The corporation kept their eye on the goal of self-reliance even as they reinvested and grew their market share. Communities that once grew cold were now infused with income and the energy of the working man…or in this case, working monkey.

So today, when you shop for tea, remember that “monkey picked tea” doesn’t always mean that monkeys plucked your leaves. Be a responsible tea drinker. Read the label before you buy. If the package is designated as monkey picked, ask your retailer to confirm that product in the box was indeed harvested by simians.

If your shop keeper can’t say for certain that real monkeys picked their tea, simply refuse to purchase it. Because seriously, throwing feces doesn’t represent anyone very well.



*Todd Snider – Sideshow Blues

10 Comments on “The Rise Of The Tea Picking Monkeys”

  1. […] The Rise Of The Tea Picking Monkeys Three Years Later […]

  2. NotAPunkRocker says:

    You had me fooled for a minute.

    This is really the plot of the next “Planet of the Apes” movie, isn’t it?

  3. First, I’m disappointed in Elvis Costello for not giving any props to Dave Bartholomew on his song “Monkey To Man”. Even if there are only passing similarities in the two songs, it would have exposed many more folks to that infectious bass line. I’m still hearing it as I type these words.

    On another topic, if one changes the spelling, the Pourhouse isn’t a bad place at all. As a matter of fact, Wednesdays are “Buck a Shuck Oyster Night” at the Pourhouse, and rumor has it they’re going to have Victory Dirt Wolf Double IPA back on tap soon. Yum.

    • omawarisan says:

      See! The fact that you know Elvis well enough to know Monkey To Man raises you to even higher levels of esteem.

      Now I’ve got to rethink the poor/pourhouse concept. Shucks.

      • When in Westmont, NJ, The Pourhouse is not to be missed, especially if it’s Wednesday. When in Downingtown, PA, Victory Brewing is not to be missed – irrespective of what day of the week ti may be.
        As for Declan, we go way back.

      • I stand corrected, Elvis gave props in the first line of the song. I need to pay more attention to the lyrics and not look at the bikini clad dancers.

  4. I order my tea special from a place called “Reunion Island”. I am hoping it is a monkey populated island or I am going to have to rethink by addiction to their tea. The monkey song shall stay with me.

  5. pegoleg says:

    I’m not buying any monkey picked tea until the owners raise the minimum wage to 10 bananas per hour. Greedy bastards.

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