Iron Goddess of Mercy
Iron Goddess of Mercy or Tieguanyin is a premium variety of Chinese oolong tea originated in the 19th century in Anxi County in Fujian Province. Ti Kuan Yin, Guanyin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy is one of the most prized oolong teas. The tea is named after the Chinese Goddess of Mercy Guanyin, who is known in Japan as Kannon and in Korea as Guam-eum. Guanyin is a female embodiment of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva.
- Aroma: Golden orchid, slightly woody.
- Palate: Medium smooth floral taste, malty finish.
A dark, fermented oolong grown in southern Fujian Province in the high-elevation inner Anxi County, this oolong is wrapped in cloth and rolled into tight, compact balls (that are often seen as "iron-like").
There are two legends behind this tea: Wei and Wang.
Deep in the heart of Fujian's Anxi County, there was a rundown temple which held an iron statue of Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Every day on the walk to his tea fields, a poor farmer named Mr. Wei would pass by and reflect on the temple's worsening condition. “Something has to be done,” thought Mr. Wei.
Being poor, he did not have the means to repair the temple. Instead, the farmer brought a broom and some incense from his home. He swept the temple clean and lit the incense as an offering to Guanyin. "It's the least I can do," he thought to himself. Twice a month for many months, he repeated the same tasks.
One night, Guanyin appeared to him in a dream. Guanyin told him of a cave behind the temple where treasure awaited. He was to take the treasure and share it with others. In the cave, the farmer found a single tea shoot. He planted it in his field and nurtured it into a large bush, from which the finest tea was produced. He gave cuttings of this rare plant to all his neighbors and began selling the tea under the name Tieguanyin, Iron Bodhisattva of Compassion.
Over time, Mr. Wei and all his neighbors prospered; the rundown temple of Guanyin was repaired and became a beacon for the region. Mr. Wei took joy in the daily trip to his tea fields, never failing to stop in appreciation of the beautiful temple.
Wang was a scholar who accidentally discovered the tea plant beneath the Guanyin rock in Xiping. He brought the plant back home for cultivation. When he visited Emperor Qianlong in the 6th year of his reign, he offered the tea as a gift from his native village. Emperor Qianlong was so impressed that he inquired about its origin. Since the tea was discovered beneath the Guanyin Rock, he decided to call it the Guanyin tea.
Processing of Tieguanyin Tea
The processing of Tieguanyin tea (TGY) is complex and requires expertise. Even if the tea leaf is of high raw quality, and is plucked at the ideal time, if it is not processed correctly its true character will not be shown. This is why the method of processing Tieguanyin Tea was kept a secret.
- Plucking tea leaves (Chinese: 採青; pinyin: cǎi qīng)
- Sun withering (Chinese: 晒青; pinyin: shài qīng)
- Cooling (Chinese: 晾青; pinyin: liàng qīng)
- Tossing (Chinese: 搖青; pinyin: yáo qīng)
- Withering, this includes some oxidation. (Chinese: 萎凋; pinyin: wĕi diào)
- Fixation (Chinese: 殺青; pinyin: shā qīng)
- Rolling (Chinese: 揉捻; pinyin: róu niǎn)
- Drying (Chinese: 烘乾; pinyin: hóng gān)
After drying some teas go through the added processes of roasting and scenting.
The top varieties of Tieguanyin rank among the most expensive tea in the world, with one variety reportedly sold at around $3,000 US Dollars for one kilogram. According to one source, it set the record for most expensive tea ever sold in the United Kingdom. However, that variety of Tieguanyin did not outsell a rarer Da Hong Pao oolong, which is the most expensive tea sold on the global market.
Making the perfect Brew
Place one teaspoon per cup into an infuser, filter or teapot. Switch the kettle off, before it boils, when you hear the water rumbling. Add the hot, but not boiling, water and infuse for 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately or remove leaves to prevent spoiling.
Shelf life: 360 Days
Food Additives: None
Packing Type: (30) 1.18oz. Loose Leaf Bags (About 333 cups per order)
Packing Type: Box
Tea Type: Oolong
Province: Fujian Province
Supplies are limited, so hurry.