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What is Ti Kuan Yin oolong tea?
Ti Kuan Yin oolong (Iron Goddess of Mercy) is a well-loved and very popular Chinese tea with its origins in Anxi. Anxi is a famous tea producing region in China’s Fujian province, and Ti Kuan Yin oolong is its brightest star. The processing of the tea is very elaborate and involves about a dozen steps. In fact, there are different types of Ti Kuan Yin oolong that vary in flavor, depending on the level of roasting and oxidation.
How is Ti Kuan Yin made?
The production of Ti Kuan Yin follows the traditional artisan way from start to finish. The harvested tea leaves are dried to remove some moisture, after which they are rolled by hand. They are then allowed to oxidize slightly before being slowly roasted. The hand-rolling, oxidizing and roasting processes may be repeated multiple times, according to a particular recipe; the final result is a sublime oolong with a layered, complex flavor.
Ti Kuan Yin is a light to moderately oxidized tea with mellow, smooth, floral taste, often described as “orchid” or “peach”. Most tea drinkers find this flavor “surprisingly sweet and floral”, with some “light buttery notes”. One can detect a mix of “osmanthus, white flowers and evergreen” in its lingering aftertaste, one that is best savored by waiting a few minutes between infusions. Ti Kuan Yin oolong produces a light-colored, transparent, aromatic infusion that “turns vegetal” with further steeping.
Ti Kuan Yin, with its mellow, sweet taste and affordable price-point, is a perfect everyday oolong and a great tea for oolong beginners. Go for it if you want to try oolong and aren’t sure where to start. Some indicators of genuine Ti Kuan Yin:
- Tightly rolled tea leaves that take the shape of greenish-black semi-balls; the buds are covered with white tips.
- Unfurling of the tiny tea balls when submerged in hot water, revealing a single bud with one or two leaves.
- An infusion varying in color from light green to pale golden, to amber.
- A mellow, sweet flavor with a “long” finish and lingering aftertaste.