Ti Kwan Yin
This is the most famous of all Chinese oolongs. Guanyin,
sometimes called the Goddess of Mercy, is actually more like
the Buddhist equivalent of the Madonna. She is a bodhisattva,
one who is qualified to enter nirvana, but chose to remain
on earth to bring all to enlightenment. Statues of her stand
in many Buddhist temples, and a woman who wants a child may
pray to her. A legend gives one version of why a tea bears
An iron statue of Guanyin stood in a rundown temple in central
Fujian's Shaxian (Sand) province. The temple's condition aroused
the concern of a tea grower who passed it daily. Financially
uanble to repair it, he thought that the least he could do
was to burn incense and clean the place twice a month.
One night Guanyin appeared to him in a dream and told him
to look in the cave behind the temple for a treasure. He was
to take it for himself but also to share it with others. There
he found a single tea shoot which he planted and cultivated
into a bush with leaves that produced a singularly fine drink.
He began selling it under the Guanyin name, and gave many
cuttings to his neighbors. All prospered, and eventually the
temple was repaired.
A book from contemporary China gives another version: this
tea is so named for the appearance of its processed leaves
-- dark as iron and heavier than other teas, but with a quality
as pure and beautiful as Guanyin.