It was some years ago, during the start of my budding tea enthusiasm, when I took a journey to visit family in Montana. We were driving through the snowy mountains on our way to Yellowstone in Wyoming when we rolled our rickety old truck into a small village. The streets were cobbled and the roofs were snow dusted. Among shops selling trinkets and the cafes offering black coffee, there was a gem.
I found myself wandering into a home for tea tradition, celebrating not only the unique qualities and flavors but the history as well. The story that captivated me most, was the story of an oolong tea, Ti Kuan Yin.
In Fujian’s Shaxian province, during a time of great poverty, there stood a neglected stone temple on the outskirts of a small village. An old farmer frequently visited the temple. He swept away debris, lit incense, and prayed to the goddess of compassion, Guanyin. One day, in a time of great despair, he went to the temple as usual. He finished his sweeping but, when he went to light the incense, the statue of Guanyin sprung to life. The old farmer fell to his knees, at which point the goddess, in her kind manner, whispered, “The key for your future is just outside this temple. Nourish it with tenderness and it will support you and yours for generations to come.”
She reverted to stone once more.
True to the goddess’s word, there was a shriveled bush outside the temple doors. From that point onward, the farmer swept the floor as always, lit and incense, and also watered the bush. When the leaves grew plump and healthy the farmer discovered that, when steeped in hot water, it made a refreshing drink. He clipped some branches and brought it to the village where his neighbors could plant it too. After a time the farmer experimented by drying the leaves in a stone wok until they became the dark, iron color. It reminded him so much of the Goddess, he named the tea, Ti Kuan Yin, Tea of the Iron Goddess of Mercy.
To this day, Ti Kuan Yin continues to be the most beloved olong grown in the Fujian province.
I don’t think the man who told me this story, would know how closely I held it over the years. Safe to say, I purchased the tea and it remains one of my favorites.
Oolong tea is typically served with meals since it may aid in improving digestion. Other studies indicate that, due to high amounts of flavonoids, oolong may aid in improving bone and skin health, lower risk of heart disease, and prevent diabetes. It’s also delicious.
The Green Teahouse has many wonderful oolongs to choose from, including Ti Kuan Yin, which features in our Strawberry Rose blend. Come in to try a cup, or purchase a bag in store or online as www.thegreenteahousecom.
Stay healthy, and drink lots of tea.
-Melissa~ tea barista