Oolong tea is also called green tea. It uses green tea’s finishing technique as well as blade tea’s fermenting skill, so it is a semi-fermented tea between green tea and black tea. For the same reason, it keeps both green tea’s and black tea’s characteristics -the freshening and clearing flavor of green tea and the thick and luscious fragrance of blade tea. The appearance of oolong tea also combines the features of green tea and black tea – verdant leaves with crimson edges. The leaves are in the shape of long cables, bigger and fatter than green tea or black tea after being cooked. These leaves taste strong and thick, so they can be cooked many times. Chinese oolong tea mainly comes from Fujian, Guangdong, Taiwan, etc. Fujian has been the hometown of tea since early time. Most tribute tea came from Fujian in Song Dynasty, including the famous Dragon & Phoenix Cake. Therefore, many people believe that Dragon & Phoenix Cake is the predecessor of oolong tea,
Tie Guanyin Tie Guanyin is produced in Anxi County of Fujian Province, so people often call it “Anxi Tie Guanyin.” Anxi is located in the southeast side of the hill, where over 50 kinds of tea leaves are produced, with Tie Guanyin on the top.
Another name for Guanyin is Guanshiyin, the most popular female Buddha in China, Chinese folks think she is most charitable and most willing to help people, so they call her “the the distressed. The word “Guanyin” means to listen to people’s miseries. It is said that there used to be an old man who devotedly believed in Guanyin. He consecrated green tea in front of Guanyin’s shrine every morning and evening for dozens of years on end. One day, he dreamed of himself discovering an unusual tea tree in the crack of a rack near a stream. Just when he was toying to pick its leaves, he was woken up by a barking dog. Waking up, he went to the place he dreamed of. Sure enough, he found a tea tree there and transplanted it to his home, whose leaves gave off tremendous fragrance. What with this tea tree was discovered under the guidance of Guanyin Buddha, and with the leaves were black, moist, burly and weighing like steel, the tree was called Tie (meaning steel) Guanyin because of its sweet smell and beautiful appearance which were characteristic of Guanyin. Whether this story is true or not is beyond proof, but the fact that people used “Guanyin” to name a tea is solid proof of people’s fondness of Tie Guanyin.
The tea trees that give birth to Tie Guanyin are born delicate and weak, unable to bear difficult situations, That’s why they are said to be “good to drink but hard to plant.” The trees germinate in late March every year and their leaves can be picked in early May. Picking time runs throughout spring, summer, autumn and winter, with spring leaves having the largest amount and autumn leaves being the most fragrant, It’s best to pick Tie Guanyin from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Otherwise the leaves are less tasteful.
Tie Guanyin should be cooked with boiling water, so that its fragrance can be fully brought out. To drink Tie Guanyin involves a lot of knowledge, which can be summarized into six steps – observing, listening, viewing, smelling, tastings and appreciating.
Observing: high-quality Tie Guanyin leaves are curly, strongs and heavy,with its tip like dragonfly’s head, body like a spire, and bottom like frog’s leg. Good Tie Guanyin leaves are covered with a thin layer of hoar frost called “sand green.” For the Guanyin leaves have to be wrapped up with white cloth after finished. They are kneaded and twisted in the cloth so the leaves will shrink. After baked and kneaded many times, the leaves are dried and lightly heated in slow fire. This sublimates the theine in the leaves, which gathers on the leave surface to form the hoar frost Tie Guanyin also has to be assorted after being made. The common leaves are called crude tea while the good ones are called refined tea, The decisive difference between crude tea and refined tea is the existence of peduncle. Those without it are refined tea while those with it are crude tea.
Listening: Tie Guanyin is usually kneaded about 11 times when they are wrapped in the cloth, sometimes as many as 25 times. Therefore, the leaves are twisted, tight heavy and massive. Dropped into the tea pot, those leaves that can make ringing sound are good while the common ones can only make husky sound.
Viewing: the water of Tie Guanyin is golden, thick and clear in color. The leaves are fat and bright after cooked, with silk-like sheen on the surface. If the water takes on a dark color with a touch of red, that means the leaves are not very good.
Smelling: when cooked, top Tie Guanyin gives off fragrance like sweet-scented osmanthus,’ with a remote flavor chestnut. This is the biggest difference between Tie Guanyin and other oolong teas.
Tasting: Tie Guanyin is not for gulp, but should be sipped little by little. The tongue moves slowly in the mouth to get thorough contact with tea. Then the water gradually flows down the throat to let its deliciousness be fully absorbed.
Appreciating: the most special trait of Tie Guanyin is its Guanyin charm, which refers to its unique taste as opposed to other teas. This charm includes the above five steps. It is a perfect combination of human feeling and tea ceremony and a comprehensive experience of senses and intelligence, possible to be understood by heart but not so probable to communicate with words.
Tie Guanyin contains over 30 mineral elements, of which the contents of potassium, fluorine and especially selenium are the highest These mineral elements can stimulate the creation of immune protein and antibody. strengthen human ability of preventing disease, and have some effects on coronary heart disease. Besides, Tie Guanyin has over 70 kinds of fragrance, 10 of which are highly characteristic These smells also have positive effects in relaxing body and heart, as well as health preservation and protection.
Wuyi Rock Tea Wuyi Rock tea is a general name for oolong tea produced in Wuyi Mountain of Fujian. It is the most well known oolong tea whose production Is highly delicate, especially the reputed technique of “shaking green.” After the fresh leaves are picked, they have to be sunned and slightly adjusted. Then they are thinly spread out on a dustpan and shaken with hands. The edges of the leaves rub with each other, and are oxidized by air after the edges break, so they will turn red. Red Robe is the best type of Wuyi Rock tea and has had a history of over 30G years. Now there are only three Red Robe tea trees. They are over 1,000 years old and live on the cliffs of Wuyi Mountain. The leaf tips are a little red. See from a distance, they look like brilliant red brocade, and this gives it the name of Red Robe. Red Robe leaves are picked every spring. People have to set up scaling ladders to pick a small amount of leaves, so they are extremely precious and valuable.