King of Tikuanyin
There’s the much-loved and sipped traditional oolong Chinese tea, and then there’s Tikuanyin. It is the premium version of the oolong, regarded for its distinct aroma, taste and medicinal benefits. According to popular legend, Qing emperor Kangxi prayed to Goddess of Mercy Guanyin to cure him of smallpox. She healed him and in return, said that the people of the region must cultivate tea bushes in the mountainside, which since then, have been named after the goddess.
The Tikuanyin species of tea trees traces its origins to the Anxi region of China. The trees are best grown in the lush elevated terrain of Anxi.
What does the process look like?
The Tikuanyin making process has been described as part art, part science. Oolong is harvested only in spring and autumn. The leaves are usually plucked only in the earliy in the morning. The freshly plucked leaves are then sun dried, and shaken through a rotating container to remove any debris and soften the leaf surface. The leaves are semi-oxidized to 20-30%, and then left to wither for several hours in a quality-controlled setting. The withered leaves are rolled by hand or in a roaster. They are packed into bags, rolled, unpacked, re-packed and then repeat the process again and again until the leafs turn tiny balls.
How does Tikuanyin tease the senses?
Top quality Tikuanyin leaves are jade green, firm and the flavor retains a solid, fresh aroma even after multiple brews. They create a pale green infusion in your teacup and the taste is mild and pleasant, with a hint of floral aroma. The blend of flavors is complex but clean. It goes down well and does not leave behind a dry or bitter aftertaste. Take a few sips and you’ll understand why Tikuanyin is honored as a ‘superior’ tea.
Why should you drink Tikuanyin?
As the tea leaves are only slightly oxidized, they preserve their antioxidants to offer health benefits. They contain polyphenols, which help you to burn fat. A healthy eating habit and regular exercise, oolong tea could be effective aid towards a fitter body.
How do you brew a nice cup of Tikuanyin?
Western style of brewing takes you just a couple of minutes. You’ll need 2-3 teaspoons of Tikuanyin tea for ½ liter of water for an intense cup of tea. Pour boiling water (92-100ºC) into the tea cup, let the leaves steep for 3-5 minutes, and then serve with sugar or honey. You can brew quality Tikuanyin about seven times.