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Nonpareil Handmade Anxi Yun Xiang TieGuanYin Oolong Tea
Orchid & roasting fragrance, full-bodied taste
Orchid & roasting fragrance, full-bodied taste
Houtian Village, Longjuan Township, Anxi County, Fujian Province, China
October 16, 2017
Hand-made, rolled into tight, even balls, dark brown in color,
with a shape often compared to the head of a dragonfly
smooth and full taste, with a rich roasting aroma and a slight sense of orchid flower.
The sweet aftertaste and aroma lasts long in your mouth
C. sinensis cv. Tieguanyin
Nanqi Tea Garden
Moderate caffeine (less than 20% of a cup of coffee)
Store in airtight, opaque packaging; keep refrigerated
High quality roasted Tie Guan Yin.
Yun Xiang (韵香) means roasted. Roasting is the key process step for Yunxiang Tie Guan Yin’s feature: sweet and mellow flavor, very bright liquid. Usually, people who want to drink Tie Guan Yin will start with Qingxiang Tie Guan Yin, which is the base of Yunxiang tea. By roasting the Qingxiang tea, we can get the Yunxiang tea. Yunxiang tea has long-lasting aroma, but requires more skill and patience for the makers, especially hand-made tea. During the roasting process, the tea will be roasted for 3 or 4 times, for over 8 hours of each time. The maker must control the temperature carefully, and judge the tea’s quality with his experience. We may say that fine roasted oolong tea is made under a strict “fire” trial.
There are multiple types of Tie Guan Yin in China. It is traditionally divided into three types: Qingxiang, Yunxiang and Nongxiang (浓香). Qingxiang Tie Guan Yin is known as its high aroma and brisk flavor, also called as the GuanYinYun (观音韵). Giving some charcoal fire into the making of Qingxiang tea, it can be transferred into a different type – the Yunxiang Tie Guan Yin, which tastes mellow and full. It has heavy roasting flavor, long-lasting aroma, while keeps the smooth and sweet taste of Qingxiang tea. It is also called as charcoal roasted Tie Guan Yin. Hand-made charcoal roasted Tie Guan Yin takes much more efforts during making.
Chinese Gongfu Method
|Teacup: 12oz / 355ml||Gaiwan: 3.8oz / 110ml|
|212℉ / 100℃||212℉ / 100℃|
|5g Tea||7.5g Tea|
|Brewing time: 5 - 8 mins||7 steeps: rinse, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 70s, 90s, 140s|
|Rinse time is around 5 seconds|
The Nanqi Tea Garden, situated at an elevation between 800 and 1,000 metres, located in the Houtian Village of Longjuan Township in Anxi, China. The climate here is warm and moist year round, with average temperatures between 16℃ and 19℃. With an annual rainfall of approximately 1,800mm, Nanqi is a superstar Tieguanyin growing region. The tea planted here is of excellent quality because of the ecologically unique natural environment. More significantly, the local people are hard workers, good people who know very well how to make tea. The traditional processing method gives Nanqi Tieguanyin its unique Guan Yin taste, aroma, and feel: sun withering, spreading, fixation, rolling, forming and roasting. The orchid aroma of Nanqi Tie Guan Yin is spreading around the world.
After tasting this hand-crafted Tie Guan Yin tea, Angel Chen from TeaVivre interviewed the tea farmer, Ms. Chen Biyi, with several questions about the tea.
Angel: Where are the fresh leaves of this tea from?
Ms Chen: Almost every town in An’xi produces fresh tea leaves. The materials of this tea are mainly from plantations in the areas of Longjuan, Xianghua, Gande, Huqiu, and Xiping.
Angel: Usually, when we drink Tie Guan Yin, we may feel a slight sour taste on the root of our tongue, along with the lofty aroma of Tie Guan Yin. Where do these qualities come from?
Ms Chen: This is due to a longer period of spontaneous fermentation before fixation. The sour flavor comes out naturally after the extended period of tossing and oxidation, which often lasts for three days.
TeaVivre: The sour flavor doesn’t represent that the tea has gone bad, or that its quality is affected. The sourness is due to something called tuo suan (拖酸), or drawing out the sourness. Tea leaves are not instantly pan-fired after being picked from the tea shrubs. They will be put aside for two to three days, during that which time the leaves will oxidize and spontaneous ferment, a process from which the sour flavor develops. This is a production method, to wait for a few days before performing stir fixation.
Angel: But I didn’t taste a flavor like that when drinking this Nonpareil Tie Guan Yin. Is this a result of instant stir fixation?
Ms Chen: You’re right. We call this kind of Tie Guan Yin Zheng Chao (正炒, zhèng chǎo). Zheng refers to the middle of the day. Chao refers to the process of stir fixation, chao qing, or frying the leaves to end the oxidation process and “fix” the level of oxidation. We pick the fresh tea leaves in the morning, and finish the process of chao qing before 12 o’clock in the noon. That’s why it is called Zheng Chao.
TeaVivre: Zheng Chao Tie Guan Yin has a smooth tasted liquid, heavy and clear flavor, and strong aroma of sweet orchid. Local people in Fujian name this characteristic of Tie Guan Yin as “The Charm of Guan Yin”, Guan Yin Yun or Yin Yun. It is also a standard of discerning the quality of an Iron Goddess. Chen mentioned that tea workers will decide whether the tea leaves are ready for stir fixation by their years of experience. In this way, the flavor of one kind of tea may be slightly various due to different experience of the tea maker. Tea’s flavor is highly affected by weather as well.
The skill of roasting tea can be found in ancient China. In Ming Dynasty, the book Investigation into Tea(《茶笺》by Wen Long) wrote: The Classic of Tea does mention the procedure of “steaming and baking,” indicating a long history behind this procedure. In Dos and Don’ts in Tea Appreciation (Pin Cha Yao Lu)by Huang Ru, it is recorded: Once taken out from molds, the cakes should be on a big round shallow plate baked over fire to be heated thoroughly. The fire should be half smothered with charcoal, with a hollow inside to let go the heat.
Jiang Xin and Jiang Yi (2009) The Classic of Tea & The Sequel to The Classic of Tea, Hunan: Hunan People’s Publishing House, ISBN 978-7-5438-5994-4. P227, P242.
The tools using in roasting are simple. But the process is a hard work. A repeatedly check on every 15 to 20 minutes is needed, in order to control the temperature changing and tea leaf’s quality changing. Charcoal roasted Tie Guan Yin has unique aroma and profound taste. The charcoal roasting flavor is pleasant, and the aroma can last longer than Qingxiang tea.
There is an important procedure during roasting: covering ashes. Roasting is to use high temperature to change the tea leaf’s nature. The leaf, however, cannot be directly contacted with hot charcoal at hundreds degrees. The charcoal must be covered with ashes, to slow down the burning speed and control the temperature between 50℃ to 60℃. Meanwhile, the maker must check the leaf’s condition repeatedly. There should be no open fire; otherwise all the previous efforts will be wasted.
Anxi lies in the eastsouth of Fujian, at 24°51′ N - 25°26′ N, 117°34′E - 118°18′E. Its total area is 2983.1 square kilometers. The environment of Anxi is definitely suitable for planting tea trees. The average temperature here is about 16 to 20℃, while the annual precipitation is around 1600 mm to 1800 mm. According to the record in “Anxi County Annuals/An Xi Xian Zhi”, the tea production in Anxi began in Tang Dynasty, rose in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, flourished in last century. It has a history over one thousand years. Anxi was renowned as “the capital of tea in Fujian”. In March, 1995, Anxi was named as the “Home of Chinese Oolong Tea” by Ministry of Agriculture.
C. sinensis cv. Tieguanyin is produced through sexual propagation, a shrub with a medium-size leaf that is oval-shaped, deep emerald-green in color, thick but fragile, with a slight curve along its length and a wavy edge. The leaf dent is thin, and the buds are purple red. It has earned the moniker “delicious but difficult to grow” since only fertile soil, qualified tea shrubs, and appropriate planting and cultivation methods can produce the highest quality Tieguanyin and lead to a bountiful harvest.
Tie Guan Yin tea is the representative of Chinese Oolong tea. Oolong teas were first developed during the early 1700's in the Fujian area of China. As a cross between non fermented green and white teas, and the fully fermented black teas, that combines the best of both in a single tea, Oolong teas quickly became popular all through eastern China and Taiwan. In the early 1970's Oolong Tea became widely popular in Japan, and from their spread to the rest of the world. Fujian, the home of Oolong teas, still produces the finest Oolong teas.