Ti Kuan Yin issue


Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Ti Kuan Yin issue

Postby yresim » Mar 11th, '06, 10:54

I have really enjoyed all of the other oolongs I've tried so far. I really liked the Jasmine #12 (my favorite), and I also enjoyed the Ooooh Darjeeling, as well as the Oolong #40.

But I seem to be having some kind of issue with the Ti Kuan Yin. I mean, this is supposed to be the best of the best oolong, right? And it's supposedly highly oxidized. So I think maybe I'm doing something wrong.

At this point, I would describe the taste of the TKY like this:
If I had to define the word "green" as a color, this would be it. It tastes like grass, spinach, asparagus, and some other vegetables that I can't quite define.

That was the result I got following the brewing directions that Adagio gave (5 minutes at 212 degrees). I initially brewed it in a glass mug (YoYo). After talking to someone on chat, I tried it in a ceramic mug with no improvement.

I then tried brewing twice as much tea for 1 minute. This still resulted in a grassy/vegetal taste (not exactly as described above, but still pretty vegetal).

Is it supposed to taste like this? If not, what am I doing wrong?

Even the dry leaves smell pretty grassy... did I get a mislabeled tin or something?

~Yresim~
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Postby marz910 » Mar 11th, '06, 14:44

I haven't had a problem with mine. I brew it in the personaliTea pot for 4min. at 212 temp with just under 4 scoops of tea.
This is the scoop I use http://i14.photobucket.com/albums/a343/ ... 0/shsp.jpg
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Postby yresim » Mar 11th, '06, 21:16

marz910 wrote:I haven't had a problem with mine.

Does yours taste vegetal or grassy?

Do the dry leaves smell vegetal or grassy?

~Yresim~
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Postby garden gal » Mar 12th, '06, 01:12

OOH- your scoop is soo pretty- I've got scoop envy now. It makes my tupperware green tsp look so tacky in comparison. Something else to put on my want list.
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Postby yresim » Mar 12th, '06, 06:29

I think I phrased my original question poorly.

What I want to know is:
Is this the kind of flavor profile one should expect from ti kuan yin?
If not, do you notice anything I might be doing wrong?
Also, if not, do dry ti kuan yin leaves generally smell grassy/vegetal before brewing?

~Yresim~
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Postby marz910 » Mar 12th, '06, 09:11

I find the leaves, after brewing, do have sort of a grassy/vegetal smell. I find the tea itself has such a unique flavor that is a little hard to descibe. The first taste is slittly grassy but it has a unique after taste. When I fiqure out how to describe it better I'll let you know.
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Postby Warden Andy » Mar 12th, '06, 16:47

I'm drinking a cup of Ti Kuan Yin wulong right now, and it's anything but the "green" taste you described. It has a normal wulong taste, with other unigue flavors that I can't describe.

I think it's more likely that you got a mislabelled tin. First, does the leaves look like this? Also, if you got a mislabelled tin with tea that tastes "green," it would probably be green tea. So if it is green tea, it would taste fairly bitter if you brewed it like a wulong. So, was it bitter?

One last question, did you add any sugar to it? That might bring out a "green" taste.
Last edited by Warden Andy on Apr 21st, '06, 11:03, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby javyn » Mar 12th, '06, 23:21

I tried Ti Kuan Yin and it completely turned me off to Oolong. Had a rather foul, woody taste. It was an inexpensive kind from the asian grocery store, but it was loose leaf and the leaves looked like all of the illustrations I have seen. The leaf opened up very large too while infusing.
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Postby kodama » Mar 13th, '06, 03:01

I got the Ti Kuan Yin in the sampler with the hopes that it would be the sweet and flowery rolled "mystery oolong" that I had recently, and wound up with the same experience as the poster. It looked nice, but it smelled (dry) and tasted like mediocre sencha, not sweet at all. I did not use sugar, and used a western teapot with the recommended time and just-below-boiling water.
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Postby yresim » Mar 13th, '06, 03:16

javyn wrote:I tried Ti Kuan Yin and it completely turned me off to Oolong. Had a rather foul, woody taste. It was an inexpensive kind from the asian grocery store, but it was loose leaf and the leaves looked like all of the illustrations I have seen. The leaf opened up very large too while infusing.

I would suggest trying Oolong #40 & the Oooh Darjeeling. I found both of them to be quite good, and nothing like the tea (ti kuan yin or no) that I described in this post. There seems to be a lot of variation between the different oolongs, so - regardless - I would suggest trying another oolong before writing them off entirely.

~Yresim~
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Postby yresim » Mar 13th, '06, 03:22

Andy wrote:I think it's more likely that you got a mislabelled tin. First, does the leaves look like this?

Yes, it looks like that. But I can't tell the difference between that and Oolong #18.

I just find it strange, because I can't find any of the flavors in this tea that others have described (butterscotch, wood, mushroom, earth, brandy) except for maybe smoky. And it definitely doesn't smell floral to me.

Also, if you got a mislabelled tin with tea that tastes "green," it would probably be green tea. So if it is green tea, it would taste fairly bitter if you brewed it like a wulong. So, was it bitter?

It is slightly bitter, but not excessively so. I would characterize the flavor as "sharp". It also has a very dry aftertaste.

One last question, did you add any sugar to it?

No, absolutely not. I try all tea without anything added first. I only add something if I feel that it might complement the flavor of the tea.

I had noted that the tea leaves smelled kind of green over a week before I ever tried the tea. The day my samples arrived, I opened every single one and smelled it. But I have found that some tea leaves smell green without imparting a green taste to the infusion (and visa versa), so I didn't worry about it at the time.

Tonight, I tried "rinsing" the leaves with boiling water, and that helped a little bit, but it was still pretty grassy. On a whim, I also tried adding sugar to it (after determining that I didn't like it), and you were right: the sugar made it far, far, far worse.

I am literally going to be physically ill if I try to take another sip of this tea, so I'm not going to be brewing any more cups from this particular sample.

Andy: if you are willing to PM me your postal address, I would like to mail you a small portion of this sample (say, 2 tsp) to try and verify whether or not it is, in fact, ti kuan yin. If it is, then that is fine (just means I don't like it). If it is not, then at least I have someone with experience backing me up so that I can get a replacement sample.


~Yresim~
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Postby klemptor » Mar 13th, '06, 10:54

Brew TKY for five minutes at 180º. This will make all the difference in the world.
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Postby illium » Mar 13th, '06, 12:48

yresim -

you are unforuntatley experiencing a very common problem in the tea world... just because something is called "Tie Guan Yin" doesn't mean that it is the same as the next tin that is also labeled "Tie Guan Yin"..

In fact, this particular name is VERY prone to that problem. TGY is one of the most popular teas in China, and is the best known Oolong in the Western world. That means that if you are a tea maker, and want to sell your oolong tea, you might just call it TGY. In fact, the name itself has no concrete attachment to a specific origin for the tea, processing method, flavour, leaf size, etc.. it's just a nice name.

In fact, even the origin of the name TGY is a little mysterious. I have heard a number of stories about it, all of which are different. The name literally translates to "Iron Goddess of Mercy". "Guan Yin" is a popular religious icon in China. There are statues for her all over the place. When they say "Iron" (Tie), it is a short-hand way of saying "Iron Statue", as in "GuanYin, made of Iron".

As is the custom in China, people will give offerings for Guan Yin at the statue, so the first story I head was that this was the tea to give to GuanYin, and that it is blessed by her. I've also heard that it was originally made by monks at a temple dedicated to GuanYin.

By far the most sensible explanation for the name I've heard though, is that "Tie Guan Yin", is actually an idiom-slang that was at one time used in the tea industry. The idiom in that case would mean "As heavy as an Iron statue of GuanYin". Apparently this statue was a standardized unit of measure at an important tea trading point. It would be used to measure certain quantities of tea for accuracy. Since many teas are much more bulky than others, and some are very dense, weight is the only method of measuring tea accurately. In the world of Oolongs, the higher quality of tea is more dense than the cheaper teas. So one poud of high quality tea would look like a much smaller amount. So if you were a tea salesman, and were selling a diminutive-looking bag of tea to someone who was questioning it's quality, you could say "no! it's as heavy as an Iron statue of Guan Yin!" to let them know it's just a very high quality tea, that is very dense. Over time, the name just came to mean "the highest grade of Oolong".

So many different plantations would have a "Tie Guan Yin" that they manufactured, all with different processing methods and flavours.

Now, getting back to the tea question at hand -- your tea sounds like a typical medium-high grade lightly oxidized Oolong tea. This are wonderful teas, and are considered some of the best teas in the world. So, that IS an Oolong, and it probably IS a TieGuanYin (whatever that means hehe), but what it is, specifically, in Chinese tea terms, is a Tie Guan Yin (Qing Xiang) (which means light flavour/aroma). You are looking for Tie Guan Yin (Nong Xiang) (dark flavour/aroma).

Oolongs can be broadly classified as Qing Xiang, and Nong Xiang. The Qing Xiang Oolongs are very similar to green teas. The are very mildly oxidized. They have a grassier more vegetal flavour. They are exactly as you describe in your post. The Nong Xiang Oolongs are the more heavily oxidized teas, and are characterized by the chocolaty, smooth, smoky, rich, woody, flavours..

I actually carry both varieties and label them as such, but I'm a rare vendor when it comes to that sort of thing. Most people just plop "Tie Guan Yin" on the lable, and don't tell you what province it came from, what mountain, what processing it went though, etc.. So you really have no idea what you're getting.

For the gentleman who said he tried some cheap TGY from the grocery store -- you poor fellow, cheap low quality oolong will make anyone run with fear. Please try a decent quality one sometime, and you'll be VERY surprised at the difference.

Thanks,
Troy
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Postby Marlene » Mar 13th, '06, 13:24

I'm a huge fan of some Nong Xiang tiguanyin that I picked up at my local grocery. It's far from 'highest quality' but it is a very very darkly roasted oolong. It came in that fancy tin that I've got pictures of in my flickr account. Very cheep, but it's become my absolute favorite oolong. Lucky me!
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Postby teaspoon » Mar 14th, '06, 21:56

Psst, it's ok, I've gotten the same taste out of both adagio's TGY and a high-grade organic TGY that my teashop sells. I'm not particularly fond of it, myself. Just not my personal fave. So don't feel bad, you're not alone.

~tsp
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