Tie Guan Yin Competition Grade "Monkey Picked" Oolong

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Oolong Tea
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190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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54 Tasting Notes View all

From Chicago Tea Garden

This tea was sourced by David Lee Hoffman from one of the organizers of the Chinese National Tea Competition. This tea is named after the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Guan Yin in Mandarin), also known as the “Iron Goddess of Mercy.” Tie Guan Yin was first used only as a tribute tea to the Royal Court. The tea leaves from Anxi County in China are known for their overwhelming floral fragrance. They are lightly oxidized and rolled into very tight balls using a technique known as “baorou.” They slowly open up while steeping, releasing their flavor and floral aroma, eventually revealing whole leaves. Through his relationship with the organizers of China’s National Tea Competition, David Lee Hoffman has gained unprecedented access to some of the most special Tie Guan Yin Oolongs being made today — this is one of them.

This tea has several spellings, most popularly Tie Guan Yin and Ti Kuan yin.

About Chicago Tea Garden View company

Chicago Tea Garden is an online tea shop committed to providing extraordinary teas and tea education to tea lovers and those new to the leaf. Chicago Tea Garden's co-owner Tony Gebely also runs the World of Tea Blog [http://www.worldoftea.org] and Tweets at @WorldofTea.

54 Tasting Notes

237 tasting notes

My sample from Chicago Tea Garden just arrived – now I get to try the tea that so many have raved about here.

The smell of the dry leaves is really vegetal and fresh, which is a good start.
1st steep: 180 degrees, 60 seconds. A prominent vegetable/seaweed aroma. Now for the first taste: Wow, this is possibly the best oolong tea I’ve ever had. It’s got some amazing flavors in there, so it’s going to be hard for me to describe it adequately. And what a sweet aftertaste. Okay, I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say rice pudding. It’s creamy, silky, rich, and sweet. I want more!
2nd steep: 180 degrees, 90 seconds. Oh, the anticipation while it’s steeping – will it deliver on the promise of the first cup? More of a floral note in the aroma this time, reminiscent of jasmine. The flavor is still sweet and now juicy too – I’m really reminded of apple juice. Amazing.
3rd steep: 180 degrees, 90 seconds. I’ve never made a habit of more than two steeps but what the heck, I’m throwing caution to the wind today. Now the aroma is new-mown grass. The flavor is mellower now, but still rich. The rice is back, but more savory this time. I’m reminded of the cartoon where Wile E. Coyote pulls down a chart of the roadrunner and explains how each part of the bird has a different, delicious flavor – this tea has so many flavors it’s unbelievable.
Must. Have. More.

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Wonderful note! Love the Wile E. Coyote reference :)

Tea for Me Please - Nicole Martin

This was one of the best oolongs i’ve ever had


That was the tea talking! Just looked at the price on the CTG website…not cheap, but worth it.


Love the Wile E. Coyote reference.


“I’m reminded of the cartoon where Wile E. Coyote pulls down a chart of the roadrunner and explains how each part of the bird has a different, delicious flavor – this tea has so many flavors it’s unbelievable.”

Best description of a tea.

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596 tasting notes

Ok, yeah, I am friends with the owners of Chicago Tea Garden. I am also a Tie Guan Yin FIEND. And this is the best I’ve tasted. One of the best teas I’ve ever tasted. Oh my stars! Tastes like a pristine meadow on the first spring morning when the tiniest flowers, still covered with dew, first bloom.

Excuse me. I need some time alone now.

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Little Yellow Teapot

My sample just arrived. Am very excited to try. Hope you enjoyed your “tea moment.”

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318 tasting notes

Thanks to Autumn Hearth for this!

I was in such an oolong mood today. I don’t know why. But I remembered I had this in my drawer!

It’s just what I want in an oolong: buttery, floral, a little creamy. There’s a natural sweetness to it that’s great. I’m on steep #3 (Western-style) and it’s still going strong.

185 °F / 85 °C

Mind if I ask what your steeping times where? I’m just having awful luck with oolongs.


I did 2 min, ~2-3 min, 2 mi , 4 min. What oolongs are you trying?


I have samples of Ti Kuan Yin, Dong Ding, and a milk oolong. My second steeps just suck, or maybe I don’t like oolong? I don’t know. :(


Hm, I don’t know. I personally don’t particularly like milk oolongs, but I love TKY/DD ones. Are you using water around ~180, 190 and about 1tsp/cup?

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2185 tasting notes

Thanks to Ellen for sending me some of this tea in our recent swap! It’s sad that Chicago Tea Garden is no more because they had a lot of nice teas.

Upon steeping, this tea smelled amazingly buttery and floral and delicious. I tell you, I’ve been tasting a lot of teas this weekend that are not quite up my alley, but this is a return to form. This is a green green TGY, and I love it. Lots of warm, thick buttery notes, a certain creaminess, and a bunch of florals. Mmmm. Almost makes up for the fact that it is snowing heavily today (and is supposed to continue into tomorrow!)

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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190 tasting notes

bought this with the steepster deal a few days ago. I’ve only had a sample of this back when Tony opened Chicago Tea Garden, but it left quite the impression on me, as i’m always thinking back to this tea when trying out other Tie Guan Yins. The taste is very smooth,floral, fruity and just plain fantastic.

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20 tasting notes

I got my sample in, so here’s my notes and thoughts. The initial smell is a mix between okra still on the branch and super glue. I’m not going to lie, the smell of the leaves and first steep made me want to vomit. The initial taste also made me want to vomit (sorry… I know), but I also don’t like “green foods”. Because of the reviews, I couldn’t give it up… I wanted to see where it’d take me. The first steep was gross, and I hated every moment of it, so I’ll just skip to the second steep (third including the wash) for the review. So from here on, I’m going to forget everything else about the tea and pretend it’s my first sip ;)…

The following is a composite break-down of one sip

Initial: Very thin… crisp. This is far from bold in every way. Don’t take this the wrong way- it’s still VERY flavorful. I would say that if I had to name any faults in the initial taste it’d be that it’s TOO fresh (is this actually possible!?)… but it may be that it’s just not oxidized to my preference.

Apex: I feel the apex is a bit anticlimactic. Did I say anticlimactic? I think I meant that the “Initial” taste was so “in your face” that it can only go down-hill. There is a buttery taste that parabolas itself into the picture. It’s a welcome addition to the flavor.

Lingering Taste: The oddest thing happens right here. The flavors seem to split up. The low-notes are a very obvious oolong that’s VERY pleasant. The high-notes are something I’d compare to a wad of grass and is repulsive. With these combined tastes you have this weird effect of a pretty descent and unusual linger. One part of me really does want to say it taste bad, but with the good? I just can’t. It’s like walking on a very very scary trail on a stormy day… surrounded by bare shaking trees with the wind howling and random animal sounds in the distance…….. but then out of nowhere a beam of light breaks through the clouds and lights up the most beautiful flower you’ve ever seen- for this split moment you forget about everything else…. it’s so beautiful and you want that moment to last forever. Yeah it’s a lot like that lol.

Final Exhale: Right back to square one. Sweet green okra smell and taste. It’s a nonchalant reminder of the loves and hates that I just experienced.

I can’t deny that this is the most unusual tea that I’ve ever tasted. It’s epic in a literal sense, and I can’t say that I enjoy it or hate it or anything. It’s almost an experience really… like reading a story. I wish I could say that I hate it so I’d never have to taste some of it’s notes again, but I also want to say that I love it more than any other tea because of the wonderful notes it showed me. I don’t feel like I should rate it based on everything I’ve tasted… if I did it’d be about half way because I’d want to rate it a 100 and a 1 at the same time lol. Take that how you want. I do think that being a supertaster has drastically affected my thoughts on the sweeter greener high-notes, so if you like green foods and teas, then I’d definitely recommend this tea in a heartbeat.

Outside of flavor and aroma, I feel I should comment on the quality. These leaves are TOP-NOTCH. They opened up at least 500% of the initial size with no loose stems or dust. I made this tea in my 4oz yixing and had absolutely no rogue dust or particles- I think that says a lot.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

Wonks, I love reading truly honest reviews. Thanks for this one. I really admire your writing style too. Very well thought out.


Thanks Sunny. I’m actually terrible at writing, so I think that I over-compensate in these notes lol.


Tea loos very high quality & delicious! Great review.

Tony Gebely

thanks for this bad-ass post on my tea Wonks!


No problem Tony! I have high expectations from your company now so I can’t wait to order some more varieties from you ;).

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911 tasting notes

This? Is so good. First off, the dry leaf smells amazing. It’s pretty much one of the most fragrant (and delicious smelling) Anxi oolong I’ve ever sniffed – fresh, floral, sweet, rich… And the taste? OMG. I vaguely recall having an almost otherworldly experience with a Red Blossom oolong (their Alishan, I think?) much too long ago. This rates right up there with that (utterly divine) experience.

First steep (30s) – Rich and buttery but also fresh, light and floral. There is a great mix of light/sweet and dark/heavy notes. Seriously wow.
Second steep (30s) – The smell of this literally made me close my eyes in delight. The floral notes make me think of orchid. Though the floral smell is more distinctive this steep, the overall taste is heavier and richer than before. It’s very fresh tasting. The creamy/buttery taste is really coming through and there’s a nectar/honey-like sweetness that’s very strong. Have I said wow? Because it is.
Third steep (45s) – Sweet, sweet, sweet! Like a sugar glaze over unopened orchid blossoms. Or, as it cools, perhaps like a very light kettle corn.
Fourth steep (45s) – The smell is heavier now, more green/vegetal notes than floral ones. The taste is darker too, reminding me a bit of Samovar’s Four Seasons (which I rarely had luck with) but with a slightly more present floral top note.

I think the second steep is by far my favorite with the first steep coming in second. Since those were so tasty, that’s what I’m rating this on. (Though I reserve the right to bump the rating up when the second steep is fresh in my mind.)

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

Ditto your comments – this is amazing stuff!


It really is! This one made me wonder why I don’t have more green oolongs because they are so awesome. But then if all green oolongs were like this one, I would have more!

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1659 tasting notes

okay I KNOW I logged this one atleast once. Not fair, now that it’s gone weak and stale… I can’t accurately describe what it tastes like. Vegetal, sweet, very light. That’s about it!
Too bad this is another sipdown. Thanks QuiltGuppy for the sample. I miss you!!

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411 tasting notes

I got a sample of this and was really looking forward to it. I think I may have had my expectations set a little high, because while I liked it, it didn’t really stand out for me as amazing.

It was still really yummy.

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82 tasting notes

Haven’t been drinking much of hot tea, and instead lots of generic iced tea so I havent logged in quite a while. Oh well, it’s summertime. My sample came and since the house has been air conditioned I figured I could make some hot tea.

The tea smells nice, like oolong. Steeped first for 30 seconds and after waiting for it to cool down i can say it tastes very nice. It doesn’t have a very strong flavor, but it is quite soothing. I think I’m just too used to my Da Hong Pao flavor which is much stronger. It taste sort of grassy, but not in a bad way. I very much like this tea, but I do not think I would purchase it in the future.

I will try second and third infusions soon ;)

Edit: Second infusion came out with a much better flavor. It’s a very grassy-green taste but it’s not very overpowering and still is a soothing cup of tea. I liked the second infusion much better than the first.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

Me too -lots of iced tea so I haven’t been logging and tasting as frequently…

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