Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tea Tasting Saturday #24 - Ti Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy)

No Dong Ding? Well dang!

I thought I had a sample of Dong Ding in my recent order from Harney and Sons but realized only last week I didn't. Turns out this tea is currently unavailable from them, so I ordered it from another vendor and it has yet to arrive. So "Tea Tasting Saturday #24" is really "Tea Tasting Saturday #25" according to the order in the book, but I hope you'll stay with me just the same!

Category: Oolong Tea

Purveyor: Harney & Sons

Dry leaf appearance: Chunky Monkey! I know that's a famous ice cream, but that's also the name that came to mind when I saw these huge bits and bobs of medium and dark green chunks and balls of tea in my sample packet. And it must be said this was also a noisy tea! When I dropped the spoonful of it into my little glass teapot, there was a distinct *thud* I don't ever remember noticing before.

Wet leaf appearance: Large, whole tea leaves clearly identifiable as leaves but with some pretty raggedy-jaggedy looking edges.

Steeping temperature and time: 1 teaspoon of tea, 205 degrees, 3-1/2 minutes.

Scent: This tea had a hint of ... wait, wait, I know that fragrance! And I've smelled it very recently. Ah, gardenia! That is IT!

Color: Pale deep gold. Does that make sense? Maybe it's because I was viewing it in afternoon sunlight, but it struck me as wrong to simply call this color "pale" gold, because there is definitely some color and depth there. I like it!

Flavor: Oh my, this stuff is good! It has the merest hint of a floral taste (nowhere near as powerful as jasmine). If jasmine tea is rather like a fresh, somewhat brash young southern lady, then Ti Guan Yin is the older, richer aunt in the Chanel suit and pearls. Very rich and full "mouth feel." No astringency. Delightful, even to the second and third steepings!

Additional notes: I had always wanted to try Iron Goddess of Mercy tea -- the name alone, which comes from a Buddhist myth, is pretty impressive -- and I honestly had no idea Ti Guan Yin was she! (Can a tea be a she?) To be honest with you I was a bit aggravated I was going to have to break my "perfect record" of sampling teas in the order in which they appear in the book, but I must say, could there have been a better week to sample this gardenia-scented tea than the week in which our gardenias are at their peak? I think the "God of Mercy" was looking out for me here!

Next week's tea: Dong Ding, maybe???


  1. What a lovely picture of the tea with gardenias. Just perfect!

  2. I hope I wasn't part of the cause of the confusion!! A lovely review anyway, and it's always good to shake things up!

  3. Oh no, Steph, you weren't part of the confusion at all! (Your tea samples have been a blessing, and in fact saved me $$$.) It's just that I had ordered the Oolong Sampler from Harney and checked off from my list the items *pictured* on their website description of the sampler. If I had read the text more closely, I would have seen that the Dong Ding in the photo was not actually included in what was available. My bad!

  4. This sounds like a wonderful oolong. I'll have to try a sample pack of this one.

    It was interesting learning the myth of the female bodhisattva who came to life and gave the farmer this tea bush. I couldn't help but think of the Steeley Dan song by the same name (Bodhisattva).

    Thanks for the review and the great photos.

  5. This tea sounds so good. BTW I tried the White tea with cucumber this week and I must confess the verdict is still out. Maybe I didn't steep it long enough or something, anyway I will try it again.

  6. Harney and Sons were the makers of the first tea I tasted, that was not in a sealed tea pouch of powder as we tend to drink here in America. I always have loved the taste of tea but never had tasted the pureness of loose leaf before. This one was also in a bag, but it was nothing like I had had before. Large pieces of loose leaf and I could see through it. Plus it gave room for the tea to rehydrate. Anyway, a lot of talking to just say that Harney and Sons are responsible for me becoming a tea addict.

  7. sounds just yummy! thanks for the review! good job and great pics! hugs :)

  8. Angela,
    As I am catching up with reading, it may be too late for an Guan Yin the same as the Kwan Yin? Are older spellings being replaced?

    Really would like to know...


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