Tieguanyin is one of the most popular Chinese teas in the world. In fact, this tea is the main reason why I fell in love with Chinese teas. It's also one of the teas that might confuse many new tea drinkers and the one that raises many questions from the first-time buyers. Should it have stems? What is the average price? This short guide might help you if you are buying Tieguanyin tea for the first time.
Good Tieguanyin will never be cheap
And this is the fact. You can still buy affordable good quality tea, but if you buy loose leaf tea from eBay, you won't get a good quality tea. And this is also a fact. No matter have many AAAAA or superior, supreme or premium words it contains. When you buy tea online expect to pay from 10 to 30 dollars for 50 grams of good quality Tieguanyin tea.
High quality Tieguanyin should have a lot of flavor and scent
Tieguanyin should always be fresh. If you are buying Tieguanyin tea in large quantities, it should be packed in vacuum sealed bags. You tea vendor should never keep tea in big containers that are being opened every five minutes for buyers to smell it. Green Tieguanyin is not heavily oxidized and will lose freshness easily. Your Tieguanyin might come in different types of packages, which is fine if your tea vendor is storing it properly. But, always keep the bag tightly sealed and use it withing a few months (the sooner, the better).
High quality Tieguanyin should not have any stems
Some green Tieguanyins contain stems. You tea should not have any of them. Unlike Taiwanese gaoshan (high mountain) teas where stems are important, green Iron Goddess of Mercy should have only leaves and nothing else. Stems influence the flavor of the tea and in the case of green Tieguanyin are a proof of poor tea processing.
It should offer at least 5 infusions
Tieguanyin is perfect for both gongfu brewing and western-style brewing. It should offer at least 5 good gongfu infusions or at least 2-3 western ones. If your tea is lacking scent and flavor after the first or second steeping, it's a good sign of poor quality or improper storage. Flavor can be very different, but should range from flowery and fresh to baked tones.
(Image Source: Tea Chronicles ©)
Buying Tieguanyin tea with detailed description
From traditional version to modern green version, from different types of roasting and processing, different harvesting times and flavors to aged Tieguanyins, there are so many options that buying a tea simply called „Tieguanyin“ would mean wasting your money.
Maybe you already bought some tea and found out there are a lot of stems in it. Or your tea didn't have any details and you cannot really know was it worth the price. If you are enjoying it, then this should not worry you (unless you paid a very high price). But, if you don't find the flavor enjoyable and interesting, you probably bought a low quality tea.