Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) is a popular Chinese oolong tea. It is also sometimes written as Ti Kuan or Ti Kwan. Generally, this tea is only lightly oxidized, making it closer to a green than a black tea. It can be roasted or unroasted. The many different variations have varying flavors, but all are noted for a fruity taste and aroma that can be described as ‘berry.’
Where to buy
Iron Goddess of Mercy Tea can be found in many specialty tea shops or through a number of online tea vendors. If you are unsure where to begin, you can check out some of my recommendations below.
How to Prepare Iron Goddess Tea
The preparation instructions given here are for loose leaf teas. For tea bags, you can just follow the instructions given on the box.
The ideal brewing temperature is 90-95ºC (194-205ºF), which is just below the boiling point. You can just boil the water using a simple stove-top kettle and then let it cool for 30 seconds.
If you plan on trying a lot of varieties of tea and/or coffee it might be worth it to invest in a water boiler/warmer or an electric kettle with a variable temperature setting. Personally, I recommend this Cuisinart kettle, because it has presets for every type of tea, so you always get the perfect temperature:
Ti Kuan Yin tea is best brewed in a porcelain vessel, like a gaiwan
or in a traditional yixing, a teapot made from purple clay.
- Fill both the teapot and the cup about halfway with hot water to preheat them. Tilt them a bit so that the water creeps up the side and then rotate them so the insides get wet all the way around. Then pour the water out.
- Put 2 teaspoons of tea leaves into the teapot. If using a different vessel, use 2 teaspoons for every 8 oz. (236 ml) of water.
- Fill the teapot with 90-95ºC (194-205ºF) water.
- Place the lid on the teapot and let the tea steep for 2 minutes.
- Pour the tea into the teacups and enjoy your tea!
- You can get 3-6 infusions out of most Ti Kwan Yin teas. Increase the steeping time 30 seconds or so for each infusion. How many infusions you do depends entirely on your taste. Experiment.
Here is a video to illustrate the brewing process. In the video I use a tea press (like this one), but the method is the same as for a gaiwan or an yixing.
Use the amounts given in these instructions as a rough guide. If you find the resulting tea too weak, add more tea leaves; if it is too strong, reduce the amount of leaves used. Similarly, try increasing or decreasing the steeping times.
Many people already have an account with Amazon.com so it is probably the easiest place to buy tea online. They have a fairly large selection of low-priced Iron Goddess teas, but I’m not sure how good most of them are. One that is definitely pretty good is the Numi Organic Ti Kuan Yin.
The highest quality option I’ve found is the Anxi Qing Xiang Tie Guan Yin from Teavivre. The same tea also comes in a roasted version called Anxi Yun Xiang Tie Guan Yin. Both are great teas and as good as you’ll find outside of China, but naturally, they aren’t cheap.
Another high quality option comes from Generation Tea. Their website looks like one of the first websites ever created, but their teas are great. Their 2016 Anxi Royal Tieguanyin is wonderful.
Art of tea have a pretty good regular Iron Goddess of Mercy Tea, that I really like. It is not quite as good as the three options above, but it’s still a great tea and it’s cheaper, making it a great bargain.