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Iron Goddess of Mercy – Ti Quan Yin, is a variety of tea plant from which extraordinary oolong tea is made; in fact, Ti Quan Yin from Anxi County in southern Fujiian Province is ranked as one of China’s Ten Most Famous Teas, making it of interest even without its fascinating history. Anxi (Sand) County – is where the Ti Quan Yin cultivar or variety of tea plant was discovered. Its legend tells how faithfully the poor farmer Wei maintained a dilapidated old temple to the bodhisattva Quan Yin, who is the bodhisattva of compassion or Buddhism’s equivalent to the Madonna, so to speak. One night the Compassionate One appeared to her devotee in a dream and directed him where to lok for his reward, which he was told to share with the whole community. Al Wei found at the spot indicated was a solitary tea sprout, but his he nurtured like a gift from heaven – and so it tourned out to be to the entire region, which has prospered ever since from this gift. Just what the word Iron means in its name is never explained very clearly.

Ti Quan Yin is best prepared gongfu style, the way they do in south China, steeping the tea in a fist-sized pot and drinking it from thimble cups. Made in this way it ranks as one of the strongest teas anywhere yet retains unbelievable delicacy. Whatever the preparation, superior Ti Quan Yin simply has no peer for intensity of aroma, fruitiness and depth of flavor.

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