Iron Goddess of Mercy is one of the most recognizable types of oolong - the name alone makes it memorable. Unfortunately its legacy is being tarnished to the point that tea producers of Iron Goddess from just a few decades wouldn’t be able to recognize the transformation in flavor that it has undergone in such a short period of time.
Tie quan yin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy is both a cultivar and tea process. Many different legends tell of the origin, but it’s widely accepted the tie quan yin cultivar first appeared in Anxi County in Fujian, China. Iron Goddess was one of the first teas to garner the tightly-rolled, globe-shaped leaf style that is now commonplace throughout Southern Fujian and Taiwan. The big difference in Iron Goddess from the past and it’s in its current form is the oxidation and roasting. Most of today’s producers in Anxi try mimicking the pale color, lightly oxidized, “clear fragrance” teas grown in Taiwan. Additionally they are lightly roasted to accent delicate floral and tropical fruit flavors. Traditional Iron Goddess in contrast is medium-oxidized which produces a deep copper gold color. The roasting is more intensive relying on several roasts that use radiant heat to thoroughly roast the tea from the inside out. The roast and oxidation combine to create deep flavors of peach and honey with a long pronounced floral finish.
Our Iron Goddess is a throwback to the original style. It is perfectly roasted with a sweet honey-like flavor and nectar-like floral finish. Subtle flavors of charcoal from the roasting process slip in to add a layered flavor that I don’t believe any other style of Iron Goddess can match. It is the perfect combination of process, terroir, and cultivar.
In a gaiwan, steep 8-9 grams with boiling water. A long rinse may be necessary to loosen up the machine-rolled leaves. Steep the first infusion for 60-75 seconds, the second for 45-50 seconds and a third back up to 60-75 seconds.
It makes an excellent cold-brewed tea. In order to cold-brew, rinse the leaves with boiling water. Then steep for 5 minutes with just enough boiling water to cover the leaves. When the time is up add cold water and steep for 24-36 hours.