Origin of Tieguanyin (Iron Buddha) Oolong

Iron Goddess Oolong tea Taiwan Tea History Tieguanyin

Tieguanyin (Chinese: 铁观音), “Iron Goddess” in literal, is a type of oolong tea that is semi-oxidized. Other spellings and names include "Ti Kuan Yin", "Tit Kwun Yum", "Ti Kwan Yin", "Iron Buddha" and "Tea of the Iron Bodhisattva". Depending on the level of oxidization, Tieguanyin can be refreshing and floral (green Anxi Tieguanyin), toasty and nutty (traditional roasted Taiwan Muzha Tieguanyin). The tea liquor varies from light golden, brown to dark brown.

Green Anxi Tieguanyin Iron Buddha Oolong Tea


There is no doubt that Tieguanyin was originated from Xiping county, Anxi, Fujian province of China. However, exactly which village in Xiping to be the origin remains to be controversial. The mainstream legends are “Wang Shuo” and “Wei Shuo”.

Wang Shuo” believed that the origin is in Yaoyang village. In the year 1736, a scholar named Wang Shirang in Yaoyang village discovered a unique tea tree near his study and thus cultivated it in his garden. He made tea from its leaves and found that it was extraordinary. In the next year, Wang went to the capital and brought some of the tea to the Minister of Rites who then introduced it to Emperor Qianlong (1735 – 1796). The tea was highly appraised by Qianlong and was granted the name “Tianguanyin”, considering the tea leaf was firm, heavy as iron, and elegant in shape as Goddess Guanyin.


Roasted Muzha Tieguanyin Iron Buddha Taiwan Oolong Tea


Wei Shuo” told a different story. In 1725, there was a tea farmer called Wei Yin in Songyan village who worshiped Goddess Guanyin and would dedicate three cups of tea every morning to the Goddess to show his respect and gratitude. The Goddess was moved by this faithfulness and thus granted Wei a dream about a verdant tea tree in the forest. Wei woke up the next day to find the tree as following the guide from the dream. He then transplanted it in his garden and cultivated it wholeheartedly. It turned out that the tea was excellent in taste. Since it was from a dream granted by the Goddess Guanyin, and the tea leaf was heavy after it was firmly rolled, therefore it was named “Tieguanyin” or “Tie Guanyin” (Iron Goddess).

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