About Iron Goddess (Ti Kuan Yin)
Iron Goddess, or Tieguanyin, originated in the Fujian Province of China.
In its Chinese tradition, this tea was lightly oxidized and barely roasted. In its new home of Taiwan, cultivators found that a slow, repeated roast plus hand kneading brings out a better bouquet. Thus, a new tradition emerged from the old as new roots were born in a new land. Subtle is not the word here.
The roast notes are heavy, like an old man smoking cigars on side street hickory benches. It is the peat whiskey of teas.
The name Iron Goddess
Born in Anxi County in the Town of Xiping, Iron Goddess has two legends.
Lenged of Wei
In the center of Anxi Town, there was a neglected temple that had an Iron Statue of Guan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Every day, on the way to his tea fields, an old tea farmer named Wei passed by the statue and reflected how beautiful the temple was and how poorly it was kept. Something had to be done, he thought.
Being poor, he lacked the means to restore the temple. Instead, he brought a broom and some incense, cleaned the temple and lit the incense as an offer for Guan Yin. "It's the least I can do".
He repeated the task at least twice a month for many months after.
One Night, Guan Yin appeared in his dream and told him about a cave behind the temple where a treasure was waiting for him, which he had to take and share with others. At the cave, the farmer found a single tea bud. He planted in his field and cultivated until it became a large bush, from which he harvested the best tea.
He gave a few sprigs of this rare plant to all his neighbors and began selling the tea under the name Tie Guan Yin.
Over time, Wei and all his neighbors prospered and the temple was restored and became a beacon for the region.
Wei never stopped appreciating the beautiful temple.
Legend of Wang
In the first year of Emperor Qialong a scholar named Wang, a native of Xiping, accidentally discovered the tea plant underneath the Guanyin rock in Xiping. He then took it home, carefully cultivate and grow it. In the sixth year of Qianlong, Wang visited the Qianlong Emperor and offered the tea as a gift from his hometown. The Emperor was so impressed with it's strong, like iron, taste that he asked about its origin. As the tea has been found under the Guanyin rock, he decided to call it Guanyin Tea.