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Anxi Tieguanyin Tea

Anxi Tieguanyin Tea: One of the Top Ten Chinese Teas

Anxi Tieguanyin is a preeminent variety of Oolong tea. Anxi, a small and mountainous county in southeast China's Fujian Province, is hailed as the birthplace of this special tea.

Named after the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (known in Chinese as Guan Yin), Tieguanyin  has also been translated as "Iron Goddess of Mercy" (more correctly, "Compassion") after the old translation for Guan Yin's name. Other spellings and names include Ti Kuan Yin, Tit Kwun Yum, Ti Kwan Yin, Tie Guan Yin("TGY"), Iron Buddha, Iron Goddess of Mercy, Iron Goddes Oolong, Iron Avalokite?vara, and Tea of the Iron Bodhisattva, which is probably the closest English translation.

Tieguanyin is not only a name for the tea but also for the tree. The tree is not plump, and the branches hang down loosely. The leaves are thick and dark green, with their edges a little folded like the folded palms of Kwan-yin (the Buddhist priestess). It is because its color is dark green, its heaviness can be compared to iron, and its posture like that of Kwan-yin that it is named Tieguanyin (Iron Kwan-yin).

Long known as the King of Tea, the tea is said to have been discovered in Yongzheng Period of the Qing Dynasty (1725-1735). With a mountainous landscape, warm climate and sufficient rainfalls, various tea trees grow lushly in this region and win praise from the whole country.

Harvesting takes place 4 times a year, so as to make Spring tea, Midsummer tea, Late summer tea and Autumn tea, among which the Spring tea possesses the best quality. Picking is usually done between 10 am to 3 pm on sunny days with a north wind is considered to be the best picking period. The processing is basically the same as other Oolong teas, except for a longer tossing time and a shorter cooling time. Nine steps are included in processing, namely, sun withering, tossing, cooling, water removing, first rolling, cutting and rolling, packed rolling, second baking, and drying. Sun withering usually takes place before sunset, tossing and cooling often at night, fermentation the next morning and then comes frying, rolling, baking and roasting. The process of making green is the key to ensuring the color, aroma and taste of the tea.
The primary tea needs to go through screening, selection by winnowing, sorting, drying and piling to become the final product. Tasting Anxi Tieguanyin, a tea of unique flavor, is an incredible experience.

In the process, Tieguanyin has less wilting than other tea, adding more time to the process of making; after the heating process, re-crumpling is applied to hold the leaves with cloth and crumple it to make leaves tight. After re-crumpling and re-heating, small fire should be applied to heat it to vaporize the water inside the leaves. The caffeine, as the water vaporizes, sublimes on the surface as a layer of frost, called "efflorescent". It is an important factor to judge the quality of Tieguanyin to be with or without dark green efflorescent.


-By roasting level:

* Jade Tie Guan Yin (lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin): A newer type of Tie Guan Yin. It has a light green Jade color. When brewed, it produces a very flowery aroma and taste.
* Heavily Roasted Tie Guan Yin: Traditional Tie Guan Yin. It has more complex taste and aroma but is less floral.
* Moderately Roasted Tie Guan Yin: A new breed that has a good balance of floral aroma and complex taste.
-By harvest time:

* Spring Tie Guan Yin: Has the best overall quality.
* Autumn Tie Guan Yin: Strong aroma but less complex taste.
* Summer Tie Guan Yin: Be considered lower quality. Summer Tie Guan Yin can be further divided into two types: one harvested in June to July, and the other harvested in August.
* Winter Tie Guan Yin: The production of Winter Tie Guan Yin is very low.

* Guan Yin Wang (Guan Yin "King"): The best of Jade Tie Guan Yin and Autumn Tie Guan Yin.

Tieguanyin is one of the best brands of the oolong teas produced in Fujian. It contains quite a lot of healthy substances like alkaloid, vitamin, protein and fragrant oil, etc. Since it is good for health and beauty in recent years, Tieguanyin has even been introduced to in Japan, South East Asia, Europe and America, enjoying worldwide reputation.

Quality Anxi Tieguanyin tea strips are tight, strong and heavy. The tea leaves have a glossy appearance, with a granulated green color, red spots and white frost. Its strong sweet and mellow taste lingers even after brewing the tea seven times. The tea is golden in color and the steeped leaves are fat and soft in bright even color, with the leaf margin scattered with red spots and the middle part of the leaves remaining green

How to grade Tie Guan Yin tea (Ti Kuan Yin) in a simple way ?
Tie Guan Yin (Ti Kuan Yin) is graded based on several important factors. The best way to grade Tie Guan Yin (Ti Kuan Yin) tea is to compare them side-by-side:
Looks: whether tea leaves are sturdy and look alike in terms of color and size. The tea should look fresh as well.
Aroma: good Tie Guan Yin has very impressive orchid-like aroma. The most reliable way to differentiate aromas, which is used by almost all tea masters, is to use Gaiwan pot and smell the lid. A lid of a Gaiwan can concentrate the aroma very well. The stronger the aroma is, the better. Please be aware that the aroma here means the one coming out of steeping the tea, not from dry tea. Some dry tea may smell extremely well but taste nothing when steeped.
Liquor color: lightly-oxidized Tie Guan Yin will have yellowish green color and more oxidized one will have golden-like color. No matter what color the tea liquor has, it should be clear and pure.
Taste: whether the tea liquor is bitter or When sipping the tea, let the tea liquor stay in your mouth for a while. This will "exaggerate" whatever taste the tea liquor has. Good one will taste even better and bad one will taste worse. For good Tie Guan Yin, you will feel your mouth is full of orchid-like aroma.
After-taste: good tea liquor will leave some sweet aftertaste in your mouth. You will also feel the aroma will remain in your whole mouth for a long time.
Our experience indicates side-by-side comparison is the best way to learn how to grade Tie Guan Yin. You will steep two or three pots of Tie Guan Yin at different grade at the same time and compare them. It could be a very delightful experience when you can tell the subtle difference of aroma, taste, and after taste.
One factor not included in above list is freshness. Traditionally freshness is not mentioned when judging Tie Guan Yin (Ti Kuan Yin) tea because it is a given. However, we have found many Tie Guan Yin (Ti Kuan Yin) tea on markets outside China are not fresh, probably because they are not stored properly or have been on market for too long.

How to brew a perfect cup of Oolong tea

1. Preheat the teapot.
2. fill the teapot 1/4 full of Oolong Tea; if it is High Mountain Oolong Tea, please fill it 1/5 full.
3. The first brew is used only for warming up the teacup.
4. For the second brew, let the boiling water drops between 90 .and 95., and then pour it into the teapot with high and slow way.
5. Wait 25 to 30 seconds then pour it into the tea pitcher.
6. Pour the tea from the tea pitcher into smelling cup and wait for a couple of seconds.
7. Pour it into the drinking cup and enjoy the flavour of tea from empty smelling cup.
8. Enjoy the color, fragrance, taste and essence of the tea.

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