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How to Choose a TieGuanYin Part 1

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TieGuanYin oolong can come in many rewarding forms, and it is worth the effort to find those best suited to your tastes. For example, a tea-drinker who has only experienced Qing Xiang TieGuanYin might be surprised to hear another fan comment about liking the roasted character found in more traditional style TieGuanYins.

When selecting the kind of TieGuanYin you might enjoy, there are a few key considerations:


Each season brings a new mix of weather, so every year and every harvest is unique, Generally, Spring TieGuanYin offers stronger aromas, while the Autumn harvest can offer a less astringent, smoother sip. Our Jiu Jiu Jiu Guan Yin from Spring 2013 and Autumn 2012 would be great for a side-by-side cupping to explore the seasonal differences.

Oxidisation & Roasting

a QingXiang TieGuanYinAt opposite ends of the spectrum are QingXiang (sometimes called "Jade Oolong") and Zhong Huo (traditional) styles. QingXiang or light and fragrant styles are a modern trend with tea drinkers who increasingly prefer the refreshing vegetal and floral characteristics of the TieGuanYin cultivars. This trend is taken even further in regions of AnXi such as Gande where tea processing equipment can create greener leaves, brighter green to yellow liquor, buttery textures and floral aromatics. QingXiang TieGuanYin is oxidised 30% at most, and undergoes a minimal roasting process.

Our Zhong Huo TieGuanYins are oxidised a minimum of 40%. In general, TieGuanYins that are more highly oxidised are also roasted more. Zhong Huo TieGuanYin offers warm, gold-yellow liquor, honeyed and roasted nut flavors, thick textures, and sweet after-tastes.


an aged TieGuanYinA good harvest TieGuanYin that is processed and stored well can be aged. This ageing process can expand the character of the tea. Aged TieGuanYin produces a darker liquor, and roasted notes can mellow into caramel and woody tastes. Aged TieGuanYins can be steeped many more times that most younger teas, and offer unique, nuanced character with each infusion.


TieGuanYin leaves are sorted meticulously to determine the quality of the final product. Leaves can be sorted by size, color, maturity, oxidation level, and other factors. As a result, grades of TieGuanYin are a result of having the right growing conditions, picking conditions, processing conditions and processing skill. The stars do not always align to bring these elements together in the same way every year, every season, or even every day.

Competition grade tieguanyin refers to those teas that are of the highest grade to be judged against other producers' tieguanyin.  Guan Yin Wang, which means the Emperor of Tie Guan Yin, is selected from among the best of the competition grade TieGuanYin. CanSai JiPin is then chosen from among superior GuanYinWang. CanSai JiPin Guan Yin Wang therefore represents the best of the best.

You'll want to take your time and experience all the different kinds of TieGuanYin available. You may find that you preferences change with the seasons of the year, or with the seasons of life.

Looking to explore more? Visit part two of how to choose a Tie Guan Yin.

New Season Tie Guan Yin Has Arrived. Click Here To Explore. 

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