(Iron Goddess Tea)
Tieguanyin Tea translated into English as Iron Goddess Tea is one of the most famous types of Chinese Tea. It has many different translations and is often called Tieguanyin, Ti Kuan Yin, Tikuanyin, Iron Buddha, Iron Goddess Tea, and Iron Goddess of Mercy Tea. No matter what name you use, it is a wonderful tea. Originating in Anxi County in Fujian Province, some of the best Tieguanyin Tea is also now produced in Nantou, in Taiwan. This tea is a variety of Oolong Tea and has been very popular for centuries. The tea's leaves are dark green and rolled into tight balls. The "Tie" in Tieguanyin is translated into English as "Iron" This is because as you drop the leaves into your teapot they ring like iron as they hit the pot. The tea has the aroma of orchids with no hint of grassiness and its flavor is long lasting. It is a wonderful tea and a great tea to begin with.
Legends of Tieguanyin Tea
Tieguanyin has several origin legends associated with it. They are quite wonderful and add to the culture and enjoyment of the tea.
The first legend features a scholar named Wang. One day he discovered a tea plant growing beneath a rock, known as Guanyin Rock, in Xiping County in Anhui Province. He brought the plant home with him and planted the tea plant. He processed the leaves of the tree every spring. He eventually became a very successful scholar and had the chance to visit Emperor Qianlong. He offered some of his tea as a gift from his village. The emperor was so impressed that he asked Wang how he came by such a wonderful tea. He told the emperor how he found it under Guanyin Rock. The emperor named the tea Tieguanyin after the rock and the sound that the tea made as it hit the bottom of the teapot.
During the reign of Emperor Qianlong there in Fujian Province's Anxi County there was a dilapidated temple that was dedicated to the Buddhist Bodhisattva Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. A poor farmer named Wei Yin, on his way to his fields’ everyday, would pass the temple and noticed its deteriorating state. He felt something needed to be done. The farmer was quite poor and didn't have the means to restore the temple, so instead he brought a broom and incense to the temple. He thoroughly cleaned the temple and burned the incense in offering to Guanyin. He did this twice a month for many months. One night in a dream, the Bodhisattva Guanyin appeared to him and told him of a cave located behind the temple. Guanyin told him that a treasure was waiting in the cave for him. He was told to take this treasure and share it with others. When he woke up, Old Wei headed straight to the temple and found the cave which he had never noticed before. Growing in the cave was a single tea shoot. He took the shoot home, planted it, and nurtured it until it grew into a large bush. The tea he made from this bush was fantastic and unlike any tea he had ever tasted. He knew that this tree was indeed a treasure. He gave cuttings of the bush to all of his neighbors and began selling the plant as Tieguanyin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy. The tree of legend still exists and is considered a national treasure. Located near the tree, carved into the cliff is the name of the farmer who, according to legend, found the original tree.
The Monkey legend:
A variety of this tea comes from Wuyi Mountain in Fujian Province. It is called "Monkey Picked Tieguanyin". According to legend, the tea leaves were very difficult to harvest because they grew on the cliff faces on Wuyi Mountain. Local Buddhist Monks trained monkeys to pick the leaves from the inaccessible tea trees. Today, Monkey Picked Tieguanyin Tea is a high quality Tieguanyin, although it is no longer picked by monkeys.
The Five Senses and Tieguanyin Tea
When drinking this tea, your five senses should be brought into play to get the most out of your tea.
High quality Tieguanyin has heavy, tightly curled leaves of consistant color. The liquid is golden in color and the leaves, after being brewed are are thick and bright.
During processing, Tieguanyin Tea is kneeded and then put into cloth bags which are twisted very tightly to give the tea its shape and weight. When dropped into a teapot, good leaves make a ringing sound, whereas poorer quality leaves make more of a thud.
The dried leaves should have a sweet orchid flower aroma and the brewed tea should have a similar flavor with a hint of chestnut. This is the main difference between this and other Oolong Teas.
The flavor of the tea should swirl around the mouth and tongue. This tea should not be gulped, but sipped and savored. Swirl the tea around your mouth with your tongue to fully enjoy the tea's delicate flavor.
The teas leaves should feel heavy and solid.
Like any popular Chinese Tea, there is a lot of fake Tieguanyin Tea on the market. Although the same processing techniques are used to create the fakes, the resulting tea's flavor and aroma is quite different from the authentic Tieguanyin Tea. The real Tea has a wonderful delicate orchid aroma. Its flavor should have no grassiness or bitterness and the aftertaste should be wonderful and long lasting. Another thing to remember is that the Tea leaves should be very tightly rolled and sound like metal when they hit the bottom of the teapot. This afterall is part of the name of the tea. When buying tea make sure you buy it from a reputable dealer, to ensure you are getting authentic tea.
Visit our other Oolong Tea Varieties pages
Da Hong Pao Tea
Anxi Oolong Tea
Alishan Oolong Tea
Lishan Oolong Tea
Click here to go to our Oolong Tea page
Click here to return to our Home Page
We offer some of the finest Tieguanyin Tea in our Tea Shop