Anxi county is synonymous with Tieguanyin, or “Iron Goddess of Mercy”, an oolong varietal known for its rich aroma and remarkable complexity and flavor.
Once transformed into their final clustered shape, the leaves are said to be dark and heavy as iron but with the purity and grace of the bodhisattva Guan Yin.
The mountains of Anxi county in southern Fujian provide an idyllic tea-growing environment – high elevation, rich soil, and a mild, sub-tropical climate. These conditions result in a tea nothing short of divine – well-balanced and intensely flavorful, with notes of florals, fruit, and nuts and a lasting finish. A classic Gong-fu tea.
At Red Blossom, we favor the Tieguanyin of old.
There are two sides to Tieguanyin. The cultivated leaves of this varietal are signature: dark, thick, and glossy with serrated edges. But once processed, they can amount to two wholly different teas. The modern market calls for a Tieguanyin crafted in the Taiwanese style, more lightly oxidized to fashion a highly floral oolong.
Traditional style Tieguanyin oolong tea is oxidized to 30%, known as “nong xiang” or “strong fragrance.” Once picked, the leaves are withered and bruised, a process repeated until ideal oxidation is reached. Tea makers then roast the tea in a wood-fired drum and proceed to roll and shape the leaves by hand. The tea is finished through a series of gentle roasts.
A superb Tieguanyin oolong tea will embody the very qualities for which this varietal of tea is famed: intense aroma, smooth body, and a complexity that reveals itself with each infusion and in its finish.
The tea should display "hui gan or "return sweetness" which is an aftertaste similar to the lingering sweetness after eating dark chocolate.
Once opened, quality Tieguanyin leaves are whole and intact, and green with an even distribution of a reddish brown hue. This indicates careful picking and hand-bruising, allowing oxidation to occur throughout the leaf rather than just at its edges.
A Wonderful Starter Monkey Picked Tieguanyin
Our Own Roast Dark Roast Tieguanyin
Amongst our small selection of Anxi Tieguanyins, a good starter is our Monkey Picked Tieguanyin, but we're most proud of the Dark Roast, a tea that we finish in house with 8 hours of roasting.