Iron Goddess (Tie Guan Yin): Tao Tea Leaf

Iron Goddess (Tie Guan Yin) by Tao Tea Leaf

Iron Goddess (Tie Guan Yin) by Tao Tea Leaf

I’ve been up all night with a toothache. I’m tired, grumpy, achy… and with lots of work to do today, in need of some stamina… some strength… some iron cladding! This “Iron Goddess” is calling to me, promising the strength of iron, and the power of a goddess! How can I resist?

I have no idea what’s inside the brown paper envelope, and I have to confess I’m a big chicken when it comes to Chinese names that I can’t understand. I’m always nervous to open things named ‘Da Hong Pao’ and ‘Baozhong Oolong’ and ‘Song Zhong Zhilan Xiang Dan Cong’ because I have no idea what they are, and they sound difficult. They sound strong and bitter. They sound unfriendly to my untrained ears. They tend to sit in the cupboard for a long time before I can get up the nerve to open them.

When I open this one, I’m pleasantly surprised to find a pretty, bright green, scrunchy, pebbly tea. With ‘Iron’ in the name, I guess I expected something dark brown or rusty red. The fresh green is a beautiful surprise! Next… the smell! It’s wonderful!! It’s so sweet and fruity! I think it smells like sweet cherries, green grapes, and almonds. I expected a rusty brown earthy smell, but it’s green, flowery, and fruity.

The taste is delightfully sweet and smooth. I taste buttered almonds, with a mildly floral after-taste. It almost tastes like milk oolong with its milky sweetness… but there is that hint of perfume which gives it a touch of elegance… an offering to the goddess?

Intrigued, I do a quick Wikipedia search, and suddenly it all becomes crystal clear! ‘Guan Yin’ is the Chinese name for the Japanese goddess of mercy: Kannon!! Kannon is an old friend of mine!

When I lived in Yamaguchi-ken, I would sometimes take a day-trip across the bridge into Kyushu, to a little city called Moji. I once got lost trying to get out of Moji, and the road took me circling up a mountain which overlooked the town. At the top of the mountain, I discovered an unexpected and beautiful large statue of Kannon: Goddess of Mercy. I stopped and rested and got my bearings, and had a little chat with Kannon about how to get off the mountain. From that point on, I always sought her out whenever I went to Moji. From her pedestal in the mountainside, it was peaceful, and dream-like, and the town below looked so pretty and sparkling.

In my own mind, I’m re-naming this ‘Iron Goddess (Tie Guan Yin)’ and calling it ‘Kannon (Goddess of Mercy)’ in honour of the Moji Kannon. To me, it sounds a little softer… friendlier… merciful. I’m sure she’ll take care of this toothache, too!

This tea comes from Tao Tea Leaf. I think it might be a new favourite!



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