The Legend of Tie Guan Yin
What better way to celebrate Mother Earth on the 22nd than with a nice cup of tea, and with spring's arrival, what better way to drink it than outside in the warm. Here in the Pacific Northwest, lighter evenings, fewer woolly jumpers and happier people follow in its wake. Tea drinking becomes less of a thermostat requirement and more varied in the body’s temperature tolerance.
Our featured tea this month is the Iron Goddess of Mercy also known by Tie Guan Yin. It seems an appropriate choice given that April is the first harvest of the year in Anxi, the Fujian Province of China. The tea itself will be ready late April to May.
What I love about many Chinese teas is the legends and myths associated with their names, and Tie Guan Yin is no exception.
There are multiple myths but this is my favorite.
In Anxi, there was an abandoned temple of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, Guan Yin. A humble farmer named Wei, would stop by every day on his way home in a bid to clean it up. He would light incense and honor Guan Yin, despite the fact he was unable to repair the temple to its former glory.
Guan Yin came to him in a dream one night and told him there was treasure in a cave behind the temple and that on his return home he should share it with his village. Upon entering the cave, he found a tea shoot. Somewhat perplexed, he brought it back, planted and nurtured it. As it grew, he discovered it produced the finest tea. He gave cuttings to his fellow farmers and they named it Tie Guan Yin, Iron Goddess of Mercy/Compassion. As they prospered from the sales of the tea, farmer Wei was finally able to repair the temple and it continues to be honored to this day.