Named after the buddha or goddess Guanyin, associated with compassion or mercy, this is a Tieguanyin that truly puts the iron in the common translation of ‘Iron Goddess of Mercy’: beginning with a light taste of chestnut, subsequent steepings reveal notes of roasted grain, sesame, pear, and apricot, with an aroma of brown bread. An extra roasting over charcoal is perceptible throughout, as the fruitier notes are grounded by a pleasant astringency and distinct "iron-heavy" body, allowing it to pair well with fresh fruit and soft cheese.
This tea was created by Master Chen (read the blog), a tea master whose goal is to find a balance between mainstream bright green Tieguanyin and traditional deeply oxidized oolongs; a Tieguanyin processed in the Taiwanese way, Master Chen would say. With Anxi moving away from age-old tradition, this style of tea is becoming more rare; let us hope that tea masters continue to strive to keep the tradition alive.
And if you prefer milder flavours or wish to try another of Master Chen's masterpieces, this Tieguanyin is also available unroasted.
Master Chen brewing two of his traditional Tieguanyin during our visit to his factory.