Also known as "Iron Goddess of Mercy" after an old Chinese fable, the Compassion (Tie Guan Yin Tea) is grown on China’s high hilltops amongst fresh streams and cool, crisp air. Tender loose tea leaves are gently basket-tossed immediately after harvesting to rupture the cells for semi-oxidization, giving the Tieguanyin Tea its signature bold flavor.
Increasing steeping time and temperature will draw distinctive flavor for each brewing.
Sample provided by The Persimmon Tree for review.
This tea is new to me but this may end up being more a review of my trying a new steeping method. For this tea I will be using a teacup as a makeshift gaiwan. Today I dug deep into the cabinet and came up with two Corelle cups. They are bone white with herb designs around the outside. I poured water in them and found they held 8oz filled to the very top. Pretty and perfect for steeping just 4oz at a time. I also found a shallow pan to catch spillage.
I heated the cups and added 5-7g of nuggets to one of them. I put the empty cup over the other as a lid and let the leaf absorb the small amount of moisture in the cup. Then sniffed. The leaf smells minty. Minty? I read the ingredients – this is straight tieguanyin.
I heated and poured 4oz over the leaf and covered. I let it set for about 15 seconds. Pouring into the second cup over the pan revealed a lovely golden liquor. The scent is minty and slightly roasted. The taste is light and vegetal.
The second cup has more heft but is still light. The scent is still roasted and minty but not in the sip. The more intense flavor makes me think nettle. I have no idea why as I can’t recall ever tasting nettle. It is sharp, prickly, and slightly bitter. It tastes way better than I make it sound. Maybe it’s my imagination but I think I am already feeling the caffeine. I know it has opened my airways.
The third cup is less prickly and more balanced. A little roasted in the aftertaste. Still not experiencing the typical latex aftertaste of green oolongs. What I am getting is just a nice cooling sensation.
By the fifth cup I am finally getting an oolong aftertaste. This still has more steeps in it but that is all I have time for today.
This is unlike any TGY I have had before. Is it the leaf or the method? I won’t know until I try this again with my normal press method later.
Day two, and I am now steeping this using my standard press method. I used about 3g of leaf, and a 2 1/2 minute steep. The leaf has only partially opened and smells minty. The taste is light roasted and vegetal. It is like pulling fresh green vines out of a fencerow and chewing on them.
Cup two is a little stronger, sweeter but otherwise similar to the first. The leaf is mostly open now. Two mugs in and this is equal to the amount of tea I had with my earlier gaiwan experience. Like the gaiwan this still has more steeps in it.
What I can tell from this one time experience is the two methods do give different results. The differences are subtle but real. The gaiwan does seem to give more complex results. BUT the gaiwan method is more labor intensive. In gaiwan circles the extra effort is part of the art and celebration of tea preparation. I leave it to you to decide if this is something you would enjoy.
Visit the webpage for Compassion tea.
About The Persimmon Tree:
(From their website) The Persimmon Tree® offers our customers some of the world's finest organic teas and botanicals. Not only are most of our fresh high quality teas from around the globe hand-blended and organically grown, some of our teas are also fair trade, ensuring fair working conditions, fair wages, and a better life for tea workers from countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
At The Persimmon Tree®, our mission is simple: to enrich people's lives through the pleasure of tea.