A TeaSource Exclusive! Only 8 kilograms made each for this one-time experiment!
Click here to buy! You will receive the following:
- One 2oz bag of Tieguanyin Project, Fall 2021 made by Daniel Hong
- One 2oz bag of Tieguanyin Project, Fall 2021 made by Ming
- One sample of November Tieguanyin, also made by Ming (not related to this project, but a good point of reference)
Both teas were produced on October 9th, 2021 from the exact same material at the exact same time – one batch by Daniel Hong and one by Mr. Wang Xiang Ming (known as “Ming”). The material was harvested from the garden of Mr. Wang Chang Jin (Ming's brother) on the south-facing side of “Queen Bee” mountain in Lutian Village, Anxi County, Fujian. As the name states, it’s made from the Tieguanyin cultivar, 1 bud and 3 leaves pluck, growing at approximately 2,200 feet.
What is Tieguanyin?
The exact translation for Tieguanyin is “Iron Goddess of Mercy” and the loose pronunciation is “tee-uh-gwon-yin.” By definition, these teas are made from the Tieguanyin cultivar. Anxi County is its home. It gets its name from Guanyin, the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion, an important figure in both Chinese Buddhism and folk religion. The farmer and scholar Wang Si Nang gets credit for identifying and propagating this cultivar, which is famously difficult to work with, but possesses great potential. It’s been said that if you can successfully make Tieguanyin, you can make anything.
What is the The Tieguanyin Project?
Daniel Hong is not satisfied with the Tieguanyin teas he’s been finding lately and decided to create one himself. He’s looking to capture what he refers to as “Guanyin Charm” - which can be loosely described as having a fruit/flower aroma with heavy body – almost like you could eat it. This is a continuous experiment that started in spring 2021 with the next round scheduled for spring 2022.
The 2021 Covid-19 situation in China forced a temporary change from the original intent of the Tieguanyin Project. To make the best of it, Daniel (with the help of Ming) took the opportunity to make a more popular “green” Tieguanyin style, and offer the fall edition of the project as a dual path – two teas from the same material, but two different tea makers doing it two different ways. This greener style is common in China and America today and focuses more on a sweet/floral character.
A few notes on this tea
Because of a Covid-19 outbreak in August/September in Fujian, we’re lucky this happened at all. The lockdown was lifted with enough time to make tea in Lutian village. This is the same village as the first edition of the Tieguanyin Project, Spring 2021, but from a different mountain, different garden, and different season.
The steps for producing common “green” Tieguanyin involve withering > shaking > kill-green > shaping > drying. There is no piling, rolling, or roasting like traditional Tieguanyin. Both Daniel and Ming started off with 33kg of the same raw material and produced it on the same equipment, same day.
Because many of the local schools were still on lockdown, the kids were hanging around at home and some helped out making the tea. The day started out perfect and they laid out the tea for sun withering, but nature changed course and it started raining. The kids helped the adults quickly move the tea inside. But as fast as the rain came, away it went, and the kids helped the adults haul the tea back outside. The kids then started playing games the adults didn’t understand and the tea withered in the sun. All natural.
In tea production, timing is everything (we think this could be said about tea in every aspect). Since they both worked with the same material in the same factory, here’s two significant ways in how these teas were processed differently:
- After sun withering, Ming applied the “shaking” technique four times, each with an approximate 60 to 90-minute rest in between. The duration of each shaking was 2 minutes, 3 min., 4 min., and 7 min. Daniel approached it the same but with durations for each shaking at 2 min., 5 min., 7 min., and 12 min. Shaking “bruises” the leaf to facilitate slow oxidation (seen as red edges on the leaf) and moves moisture from the stem to the leaf – an essential step for the development of aroma and mouthfeel. How many times the tea is “shaken” and for what duration is completely up to the tea maker.
- Ming conducted kill-green for his leaves at 4am the following morning. Daniel conducted kill-green at 6am. It’s all about timing.
Ming’s brother, Mr. Wang, also made tea from the same material alongside them (though we do not have any of that available). They started out with a 100kg of raw material and split it three ways. Later that day the neighbors gathered to see the results thus far. As Daniel said, the tea doesn’t lie.
To be clear - these teas are remarkably similar, but they are the not the same. The decisions made by the tea makers matter and what we want to highlight here is the art behind the science.
Charismatic honey flower aromatics. The bright and floral cup is softened by an intense lingering sweetness. These are the standards for this popular style. There are slight differences between these teas. See if you can tell the difference.