Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea (Iron Goddess of Mercy): Everything You Need to Know (And How to Make it Properly)

iron goddess tea leaves

Quick Look:

  • ORIGIN: China
  • TASTING NOTES: smooth, bright, sweet, fruity, floral
  • STEEP TIME: 2 minutes
  • CAFFEINE METER: Moderate

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What is Tie Guan Yin Tea?

One of the most well-known and popular Oolong teas across the globe, Tie Guan Yin is named after the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, “Guanyin”. 

Legend has it that every day a poor old tea farmer named Wei would pass by a dilapidated temple with an Iron statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. He thought it was a shame that such a beautiful temple was so neglected. 

Wei decided to do what he could, swept the temple, and lit some incense as an offering to Guanyin. One night, Guanyin came to Wei in a dream, telling him there was a gift of thanks for his dedication behind the temple. 

He woke and went to the temple to find a single tea bud growing right where Guanyin had told him in the dream. He planted the bud and cared for it until it became a large tea bush, producing some of the best tea around. Wei shared the leaves of the tea plant with his friends and went on to sell it by the name of Tie Guan Yin. 

Fun fact: you may also see this tea called Ti Khan or Ti Kwan.

How do you pronounce Tie Guan Yin?

The proper way to pronounce tie guan yin is “tea-eh-gwan-yin”.

What do you need to make Tie Guan Yin tea?

Tea Scoop

This is the perfect tool to help you get the perfectly measured scoop of tea leaves every single time. You won’t regret adding this to your tea arsenal!

Electric Tea Kettle

An electric tea kettle with a temperature setting is a must-have brew gadget for tea drinkers! You can set the temperature to the degree for the perfect brew every time. This kettle is a favorite of ours. Or you can check out our full post on the best electric tea kettles.

Spring Water or Filtered Water

To get the best flavors from your tea, use high-quality water. Don’t use tap water or distilled water!

Tea Pot

Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong tea is traditionally brewed in a Yixing teapot made from purple clay.
It can also be brewed in a porcelain vessel, such as a gaiwan.

Loose Iron Goddess of Mercy Tea Leaves

Using loose tea leaves really will give you the best tea-drinking experience. By letting loose leaves steep in the boiled water, they have room to unfurl and release all of their natural aromas.

Tea Cup

This one is up to you! Use whatever cup makes you happy! If you need some inspiration, check out some of our favorite drinkware.

How do you make Tie Guan Yin tea properly?

To make the perfect cup of Iron Goddess tea, you will want to use 2 teaspoons of tea leaves for each 8-ounce cup. If you don’t have loose-leaf tea, use 1 tea sachet or 1 tea bag.

Tea tip: if you want a stronger flavor, add more tea leaves rather than steeping them for a longer period of time. Most people don’t realize this, but steeping tea too long doesn’t increase the good flavors, it actually can make it more bitter.

Step 1: Pour your water into the tea kettle.

Use cold bottled spring water or cold filtered water. (Tea Tip: Do not use distilled water – this will negatively impact the taste). Make sure to pour some extra water to warm up your teapot or steeping vessel.

Step 2: Boil your water.

For an optimal flavor experience, bring the water to about 200°F. This is important, as the flavors will not fully develop if the water does not get hot enough. If you do not have an electric tea kettle with a temperature setting, just bring your kettle to a full boil, then remove it from the heat and let the water sit for a moment before steeping the tea.

Step 3: Warm up your teapot.

First, pour a bit of your boiled water into your teapot or steeping vessel and swirl it around for a few seconds to allow it to warm the vessel. Then you can discard this water in the sink. 

Step 4: Rinse the tea leaves

Tie Guan Yin is known for its furled ball-like leaves. Before steeping, you will want to rinse and awaken your tea with hot water in order to begin opening the leaves. Put your Iron Goddess tea leaves in the teapot or steeping vessel, then add a small amount of hot water. It should be just enough to cover the tea leaves. Once all of the tea leaves are covered, swirl around for about five seconds and then dump out the water, leaving the wet tea leaves in the pot. 

Step 5: Add more boiling water and steep the tea leaves.

If you are brewing in a teapot, allow your tea leaves to steep for about 2 minutes. 

Step 6: Strain your tea leaves.

You can also save your tea leaves for additional steeps. You will be able to get 3-4 infusions out of most Iron Goddess teas. Don’t forget to increase your steeping time by 30 seconds for each subsequent infusion.  

Step 7: Decant your infused tea into your teacup, add sweeteners to taste, and enjoy!

What does Tie Guan Yin tea taste like?

Iron Goddess of Mercy tea is a lightly oxidized Oolong, giving it qualities closer to that of a Green tea. It has a smooth, bright, sweet, and fruity taste with a beautiful floral aroma.

How much caffeine is in Iron Goddess of Mercy tea?

Generally, oolong tea has a bit more caffeine than green teas, but a bit less than black teas, since they are semi-oxidized. 

Since Iron Goddess of Mercy tea is a lightly oxidized oolong, it is on the lower end of caffeine content for an oolong tea, with approximately 30-40mg per cup. 

It is also important to remember that caffeine content will vary depending on steep times and the number of infusions. The longer you steep your tea leaves, the more caffeine you will have. However, each time you re-steep the leaves, the amount of caffeine dwindles.  

What are some health benefits of drinking Tie Guan Yin tea?

Iron Goddess tea has many health benefits including antioxidants, blood sugar control, heart health, oral health, and gut health!

For the full summary, check out our post on the health benefits and possible side effects of Oolong tea.

Where can you find good quality Iron Goddess of Mercy tea?

There are several good quality Tie Guan Yin tea options you can try. Here are just a few options to get you started:

What is the best way to store Iron Goddess tea?

When it comes to storing Tie Guan Yin Oolong tea, there are a few important things you will want to avoid. These are air exposure, light exposure, moisture, heat, and strong odors. 

In order to keep your Iron Goddess of Mercy tea in its best and freshest condition, you will want to store it in a container that helps avoid the above-mentioned threats. 

The best containers are made of opaque materials with a tight seal. Some good options include non-reactive metals, glazed ceramics, and non-leaching plastics. Beware that while you may see wood tea storage options, they are not best for storing loose-leaf tea, as they can have their own odors that can alter the taste of your tea. 

Once you have your tea in its storage container, keep it in a cool, dark place. 

Here are some good options for storing your Iron Goddess tea:

Looking for ways to organize your tea bags? Try these:

You want to ensure your tea stays fresh as long as possible. To make sure you’re not making any common mistakes, be sure to check out our post on the best practices in tea storage!

We hope this guide helped you learn everything you need to know about Tie Guan Yin tea and how to make it at home!

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