Tieguanyin Clear and Fragrant-Style Traditionally-Grown
his clear and fragrant-style Tieguanyin Oolong is a modern style, lesser-oxidized ball-rolled style Tieguanyin from the area around Anxi in Min-Nan (southern) Fujian Province, the core of China’s ball-rolled-style oolong tea production. Lighter in style than, but similar in complexity to its cousins the traditional and wild-grown versions, this Tieguanyin is oxidized to only 50-60%, a little less than traditional Tieguanyins. While still very ‘Chinese’ in style, the clear and fragrant-style oolongs are a great example of the newer, so-called ‘Green Oolongs’ or ‘Orchid Oolongs’. This oolong should be steeped many times, each one for a short time. The infusions will vary, initially being light and clear, and then becoming very rich and mouth-filling, finally returning to be an aromatic, clear brew. The leaves will swell and open until the full leaf is exposed, showing off the lovely crimson-tinged edges of the leaf. This proves the expertise of the tea manufacture.
An Yixing teapot is the perfect, traditional vessel for steeping ball-rolled style oolong tea, particularly Tieguanyin. This style of teapot allows the leaf to quickly fill the teapot and limit the amount of water introduced, thus encouraging the many steepings that will highlight the subtle changes that occur from infusion to infusion.
The temperature of the water is critical.
Steepings should start with reasonably cool water 175° -185° F, so as to not challenge the leaf; then the temperature can be increased for subsequent infusions. The length of time that the leaves are infused can also be increased for the additional infusions. Many Chinese begin steeping oolongs for only 30 seconds, increasing to 2-3 minutes for the final steepings.