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Jason Walker of the Walker Tea Review in the US looks at the main village regions in AnXi that produce Tie Guan Yin Oolong tea. http://walkerteareview.com/exploring-the-sources-of-tie-guan-yin/
As the article explores, the main villages are XiPing (the ‘home’ of Tie Guan Yin), Gande and XiangHua.
It is interesting to note that each different village and the surrounding area produces distinct characteristics in their Tie Guan Yin teas. Over time each source has also adapted production techniques in order to differentiate their teas as well as enhance the natural flavours and aromas that make Tie Guan Yin such a highly prized oolong tea.
As we have explored elsewhere, Anxi county covers a large region which ranges from low lying temperate climate to high elevation mountains which can experience snow during the winter months. This wide variation reflects in the teas that are produced.
Like many things in China the oolong tea Tie Guan Yin is shrouded in mystery and plenty of stories, not least the origin of this very popular tea.
There is no doubt that the Fujian Oolong Tea’s home is in the hills of AnXi county. There is however a little controversy about the origins of the tea, including the specific village and which family.
Most sources seem to point back to two possible origins, even though these are very much embellished and romanticised, the basis of any good fable.
Possibly the more romantic of the two stories is that of a poor farmer who tended a small shrine that had fallen from use. Although poor the farmer would sweep and tend to the small temple so that at least it was cared for. When he was able he would leave offerings and on special occasions light incense and candles.
One night when the farmer was asleep he was visited by Guan Yin in his sleep. He was told that because of his kindness that there was a great gift for him that must be shared freely with others. This gift would be found near to the shrine that he had so carefully tended.
Waking the next day the farmer was excited to know whether his dream had any truth to it. He searched about the shrine and noticed a small tea bush that seemed sturdy and especially healthy. From this plant he and the villages grew tea which they found to be unlike anything they had experienced.
The cultivation brought great wealth and enjoyment to the villagers who continued to care for the shrine and with their extra income they were able to renovate the shrine and take more care of it.
The second story points to the discovery of the Tie Guan Yin variety near a rock which had been likened to Guan Yin. The tea turned out to be very popular and begun to be cultivated widely throughout AnXi county.
Have you heard a different story? If so please do leave a comment and share with us and the other readers.
Tie Guan Yin (ti kuan yin / tieh kuan yin) 铁观音 tiěguānyīn. In mandarin Chinese, Tie Guan Yin is translated as Iron Goddess of Mercy or Iron GuanYin.
铁 tiě means iron.
观音 guānyīn is the translation for Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, an important figure in Buddhism.
Read more on the legends of Tie Guan Yin here.
Well 2012 has flown past. It has been a year of more great Tie Guan Yin tea and hopefully this superb style of Oolong tea has found a few more fans around the world.
We want to wish everyone passingby www.tieguanyin.co.uk a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. May 2013 bring happiness, fun, laughter and peace to all.
Fuzhou university offers a number of tea related causes including the new TMBA – Tea Masters Business Administration. Part of the expansion of the courses available includes the opening of the new Anxi campus which is due for completion in 2013.
The new Anxi tea college is located very close to the newly completed Anxi Tea Expo centre which include the Mao Cha market (part processed oolong tea). These two new facilities are part of a broader plan for Anxi to expand the value of the tea industry to local businesses, government and individuals.
The www.tieguanyin.co.uk team were interested to find out more about this during their trip to Anxi for the 3rd Anxi tea expo held in October 2012. During the event we had the chance to discuss with local government officials and also the Dean of Fuzhou University about their plans.
The deputy major of the region outlined the government’s plans on how the new facilities fitted with the existing Cha Du, China Tea Capital or Tea City. Cha Du will remain the centre for finished tea, tea which is ready for consumption or onward sale to other markets and tea shops around China. The new Mao Cha market will bring in part processed tea to be finished centrally, the aim is to reduce the cost of processing which has been affected in recent years by the rising labour costs and the fact that many people have now migrated to the city from the countryside.
It is hoped and planned that by consolidating the finishing of the part processed Tie Guan Yin and other local oolong teas alongside a market selling tea machinery all within a stone’s throw of the new Fuzhou University Anxi campus that this will also drive innovation.
As with many government initiatives in China the investment is on a grandiose scale, lacking efficiency in the deployment of capital and significantly overbuilding. Nonetheless they have a vision and one that may allow many local people develop new skills and open up new opportunities. www.tieguanyin.co.uk will keep you posted as we get more news on the various projects mentioned here.
Your English language site for everything relating to Anxi Tie Guan Yin oolong tea.
October 10th saw the opening of the 3rd Anxi tea expo and the first at the newly completed Tea Expo centre located around 10km from the city centre.
The 3rd Anxi tea EXPO ran from 10th to 12th October 2012. Tuesday 9th there was a formal reception dinner which show cased some local delicacies held at one of the International Hotels in Anxi City.
The opening ceremony bought together many key government officials from Anxi city and the wider province of Fujian. The event celebrated the economic success of many of the key Anxi Tie Guan Yin tea companies including Ba Ma (8 Horses), AnXi Tie Guan Yin Ji Tuan (AnXi Tie Guan Yin consortium) and many others.
These large tea companies contributed more than 10m RMB to the local government in addition to their wider impact to the local business environment.
Also acknowledged were the winners of the Autumn 2012 Tie Guan Yin competition. These winners came from a background of companies and individual farmers from the various counties of Anxi city. Each of the winners were awarded a plaque. These winning teas often go on to be sold for extremely high prices.
After the opening ceremony the tea EXPO was opened to guests for the remainder of the day. The newly opened EXPO centre, although 5 floors in total, occupied 3 floors covering everything from tea processing machinery, tea from around China to a wide selection of tea foods including those made with tea extracts.
As yet we have not found any English news with mention of the Anxi Tea EXPO 2012. If you do, please share. Below are some news links about the Anxi tea Expo from around the web (Chinese);
Chinese mid-autumn festival is nearly upon us. Time for moon cakes and the autumn Tie Guan Yin harvest.
Shortly after the holidays is the AnXi tea fair, based at AnXi tea city. This year the fair will be held from 10th October through to the 13th and will showcase AnXi Tie Guan Yin and all things Chinese tea.
Typically the tea fair is an opportunity for tea producers to get together and show of their harvest. Alongside the autumn harvest teas, the fair will see exhibitors of tea machinery, tea ware, tea packaging and numerous tea based snacks.
If you are interested in tea art, throughout the fair there will be demonstrations and performances of the Chinese tea ceremony in a number of forms.
The tea fair is primarily attended by local Fujian tea lovers and tea related industry people, however it is also a popular event with Taiwanese and Singaporean people.
www.tieguanyin.co.uk will be attending and we look forward to bring you some pictures from 2012 AnXi tea fair. We hope you stop by again soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed for all the latest Tie Guan Yin news.
Related links: http://www.teafair.org/
Looking for a useful resource to make some informed decisions about buying Tie Guan Yin? A great online forum is the tea chat site run by Adagio. Their Oolong tea forum has hundreds of posts from oolong tea lovers around the world, though many are US based.
What is your favourite source of Tie Guan Yin tea? Why not share with other readers your tips, suggestions and even places to avoid.
So what is the best way to enjoy your favourite Tie Guan Yin tea? This is a difficult question to definitively answer, it depends on time, mood, quality of the tea and you.
Sometimes, simplicity and convenience is key. Add a few of the tightly rolled leaves in to a mug or glass and pour on boiling water. Done. Sit back and enjoy. Ideal whether you are carefree with the newspaper on a Sunday. Half way up a mountain on a trek or long walk. Or relaxing by the sea. The combination of surroundings and the refreshing brew could be the perfect way.
For those that love the ritual and want to get the most from a competition grade Cansai Guan Yin Wang Oolong tea, then gongfu tea style is the other end of the spectrum. The focus is on the tea. That is not to say, the environment is not key to enjoyment.
To dive deeper into the gongfu style and push the limits of getting the best from your loose leaf tea, then for many YiXing teapots are the rightful choice in tea preparation. A well selected and well seasoned, Tie Guan Yin only YiXing teapot not only adds to the ceremony, but imputes additional flavour and characteristics to the brewed tea.
As we dig deeper into the ritual, even the type of ZiSha clay, purple sand material, can according to many, alter the flavours and aromas. Tea aficionados have suggested that Lao Zhu Ni or aged red clay not only enhances the aroma, but can soften and almost add a silkiness to a fine Guan Yin Wang Oolong.
What is your view? Are you an avid Tie Guan Yin drinker? We welcome your views and feedback.