Description coming soon...
This traditional high-oxidation version of the classic “Iron Goddess” Anxi oolong varietal is roasted by A Long, a 4th-generation Phoenix Mountain tea master based in Chaozhou. Although Tie Guanyin is from Anxi, not the Phoenix Mountains, A Long is renowned for his skill in charcoal roasting. While Tie Guan Yin is one of the most famous and celebrated of all Chinese oolongs, the variety most commonly found these days is the low oxidation “jade” version of Tie Guan Yin. This is not only due to the trend among young people for the light floral fragrance of jade oolongs, but the fact that the low oxidation version can be successfully accomplished through the use of machine-assisted roasting and drying techniques. The roasting style necessary to make the traditional Tie Guan Yin is intensive - it requires the tea to be roasted 5 times in 5 days, a grueling process especially as it must be done in small batches. As a results, this tea, when produced in Anxi, is often roasted electronically using ovens. A Long purchases high quality fresh Tie Guan Yin leaves and roasts them himself in the traditional style, recreating the classic coffee, caramel, and toasted nut profile of this famous tea.
Our traditional Charcoal Roasted Tie Guan Yin is distinguished from many modern low-oxidation Tie Guan Yin by the intense traditional Tan Bei 炭焙 roasting process. This step requires a high degree of experience and skill and its success or failure is absolutely instrumental in determining the final quality of the finished oolong. Master A Long of Chaozhou is a fourth generation tea master and uses the skills passed down from his great grandfather, who was an Anxi oolong master, to roast our Tie Guan Yin. However, the Tan Bei roasting step is the final process of making an oolong - the other steps include picking, withering, rocking, fluffing, fixing, oxidizing, firing, rolling, and drying. These are typically accomplished with the use of various machines, most of which employ a combination of charcoal heat and electric power to simplify the process. While the use of these machines does require skill and greatly reduces the amount of effort and time needed to process the tea, the traditional hand-processing methods to accomplish the same steps still produce a superior product, when done by a skilled master. A Long has been working with Anxi tea farmers who apply the traditional methods to a small, especially high-grade proportion of their harvest, which he then roasts himself in Chaozhou. The resulting tea is completely hand-made, giving a slightly looser, more natural-looking compression to its dark, rolled leaves. The tadpole-shaped leaves with their long “tails” give this tea its name. Because of the highly selective starting material, as well as the hand-processing that precedes the final roast, this special grade of Tie Guan Yin is more complex, with a deeper, more resonant hui gan 回甘 (returning sweetness) and stronger Qi than the regular version. The after fragrance in the finished cup fades from coffee to caramel to butterscotch to vanilla before disappearing.
This light oxidation oolong comes to us from Zhang Ping, just outside of Anxi county. This unusual paper-wrapped oolong claims to be the original low-oxidation oolong style. It is produced by taking a single serving (~7 grams) of Shui Xian cultivar leaves and wrapping them in paper, then pressing them in a special wooden mold. The mass of leaves oxidizes unevenly due to the low-oxygen drying conditions, resulting in a mass of mottled red-and-green leaves with a complex fragrance. It is very similar to the Taiwanese Baozhong style oolongs, to which it is related - Bao Zhong 包種 means “wrapped kind”. The resulting tea dries into a loose round pillow, and unwrapping it before consumption has become a ceremonial aspect of its presentation. Floral and fruity, this oolong is similar in character to other oolongs from the Anxi region though carries a unique hint of melon in its after-fragrance.