Last time I talked about one of the more famous oolongs, Da Hong Pao or Big Red Robe. Since then I’ve been finding myself drawn to the flavors of another very famous oolong: Ti Guan Yin (or Ti Kuan Yin or Tieguanyin).
Ti Guan Yin is a lightly oxidized oolong, unlike the dark Da Hong Pao. Its flavor is generally flowery and a bit sweet. You will sometimes find roasted versions which are very different in character—smoky and bolder. I prefer the unroasted personally, but, again, I am a very big fan of lightly oxidized oolongs.
The reason that Ti Guan Yin has been on my mind has actually been because of our previous talk about tea legends. TGY has one of my favorite tea stories associated with it.
In China’s Fujian Province is a county known as Anxi. An empty temple stood there with a statue inside. The statue was made of iron (“Ti”) and was the Goddess of Mercy (“Guan Yin.”) A local farmer named Wei would pass by the temple each day. He was sorrowful over the condition of the temple and the lack of care it received. He took it upon himself to restore the temple and to provide an offering of incense to Guan Yin twice each month.
Months after he began his project, Wei had a dream that Guan Yin came to him. She told him there was a treasure in a cave behind the temple. He was to find it and share it. (Other versions of the story say that instead of a dream that Guan Yin’s statue came to life.) Wei followed the instructions and went to the cave where he found a single shoot of a tea plant.
Wei raised this plant to a beautiful tea bush which produced the finest tea. He gave cuttings of the plant to his neighbors and the community prospered from the proceeds of selling the tea.
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