This tea comes packaged in a 8-gram vacuum pack, perfect for brewing gongfu style in a 4oz. gaiwan (or Western-style in a 2-cup teapot). It is available in limited quantities, as it was the unsold portion of a special order batch made by some of the few people who still know the skills of hand-making Tie Guanyin without electrical powered machinery and climate controlled processing facilities.
The processing of this tea was overseen by "King of Tie Guanyin Tea" Wei Yuede, the ninth generation descendant of Wei Yin, the farmer who first discovered the Tie Guanyin cultivar (at least according to the more prevalent of the two origin stories of this particular tea). This tea is made using the traditional Xiping processing methods, described in Chinese as "3 part red, 7 parts green" or, as we would say in English, a very slightly roasted, medium-oxidized Tie Guanyin. The light roast is a result of the rolling process; without heat, the hand-rolling will not retain its ball shape so the leaves are alternated between a basket over a charcoal fire and rolling in a weighted wooden drum.
When the tea has been brewed, look at the open leaves. You should be able to see about 30% of the leaf has a darker reddish color, particularly along the leaf edges. The particular pattern of red edges is a result of repeatedly tossing the leaves in a slightly concave bamboo tray. As the leaves rustle against one another, the leaf edges get bruised and oxidation begins there.
No electricity was used in the production of this tea, being all made by hand using primarily wooden and bamboo tools (with the occasional metal bowl or wok). As was recommended by Mr. Wei, the tea was packed in 8g servings because that is the right amount for a single standard 4oz. gaiwan; steep with water at a rolling boil for 1 to 2 minutes each time. The careful processing gives this tea a quality described as qi pao you yue xiang ("seven steeps, still good fragrance").
For Western style brewing, experiment with steep time, but use about 2 cups of water at a full boil. Try multiple steeps of the leaves.
Price per gongfu-style steep is approximately $0.54.
The following is a 39-minute video featuring Wei Yuede making his Tie Guanyin tea, as well as history and tea culture. Thanks to Halcyon Tea and Chan Tea Shop (@halcyontea and @chanteashop on Twitter) for bringing the English version of this video to my attention. If you're interested in the original Chinese version, I have a DVD in the Tea Geek Library Service.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 24 November, 2010.