Tie Guan Yin Competition Grade "Monkey Picked" Oolong

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Oolong Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
Average preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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54 Tasting Notes View all

  • “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...” Read full tasting note
  • “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...” Read full tasting note
  • “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...” Read full tasting note
  • “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...” Read full tasting note

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

247 tasting notes

Tried another oolong today, hoping for another homerun. This one is pretty good. At first, I steeped according to the directions on the side of the canister. 195 for 30 sec in the Breville. Either I didn’t add enough tea, or the time wasn’t right because it was weak, weak, weak. So, I plunked it down for an additional 30 seconds and the color improved significantly.

Okay, aroma… nice, clean, promising. Kind of toasty smelling. After brewing, it smells woodsy, roasted, somewhat vegetal. Taste… enjoyable. I can taste the roasted, vegetal scent that I had been smelling. It’s pleasant, but not creamy and not buttery.. I was hoping for a fuller taste in my mouth. Still, it’s very nice and very light.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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59 tasting notes

The infusion has that wonderful floral ti kuan yin smell. It’s very light in color. The taste follows this nicely – it’s a very clean floral oolong taste with a depth created by a slightly savory undercurrent. There is definitely nothing out of place here…no sharp notes, weird aftertastes, or astringency. It leaves a nice feeling in your mouth, too – though how it feels is hard to describe. I could definitely drink several cups of this in one sitting. It reminds me a lot of TeaG’s Sumatra Barisian Oolong.

Second infusion (also for 30 seconds @ 90 C). I used less water this time to try to attain a stronger brew. The taste is very similar, but this infusion definitely has a stronger savory base and aftertaste. It’s delicious.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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17 tasting notes

I had to try a sample of this even though green Oolong isn’t on the top of my must have list. This is obviously superb tea. I’m still not sold on green Oolong, but if I were wired that way, I think this would be one of, if not the best I’ve tried.

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7 tasting notes

This is one of the best TGY I can find in the states. Fabulous. Lasts many infusions and has a pleasant floral and smooth TGY flavor. Highly recommended for any TGY fan.

200 °F / 93 °C

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2 tasting notes

Before steeping this tea it seems to have a sweet earthy smell. Visually, it is made up of tight clusters of leaves and contains no stems upon brief inspection. I am drinking the last of my ‘monkey picked’ and have plenty of experience steeping this particular tea now that I am finishing up the last of this .25 lb bag. I personally prefer steepings between 1 and 2 minutes for this tea.

The tightly packed leaf clusters slightly unfurl after the first steep. The smell is sweet with floral grass like undertones. The colour is a pale yellow. The taste is excellent and lingers after sipping to the point that I can still smell it as I breath through my nose. This tea’s flavour is extremely deep, the initial sip will produce one flavour while the aftertaste produces another. This took some time for me to note as the favour is so well composed that it blends into itself. The texture seems creamy simply because of how the flavour changes so smoothly from that initial sip to swallow to wonderful aftertaste.

Since I enjoy this tea so much it was excellent to experiment with. Varying temperate, steeping vessels and length of steep has allowed me to get the most out of this amazing leaf. As I re-steep the flavour intensifies and opens up more to the point where I am getting maximum enjoyment from the third steep. If you like Oolongs and have a taste for them I would strongly recommend investing in this tea. It allows for forgiving steeps that never disappoint and a quality of leaf that is hard to find…

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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123 tasting notes

First steeping is sweet and vegetal with a slight nutty taste. 2nd steeping has a lot more floral flavors and has a lot more crispness. Its a very reliable tie guan yin and has both the lightness of a green tea and the richness of an oolong. Its also in my shelf next to my bag of verdant tea tieguanyin, which couldn’t be more different. Both are fantastic teas but CTG is lighter while Verdant had a richer spicier taste. I love both and plan to buy both in the future when I run out.

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57 tasting notes

After checking the top rated Ti Kuan Yin’s in Steepster, I decided to give this one a try. I ordered the tea from the website and received it just a few days later packed in a nice airtight tin.

The dry leaves were tightly curled into big dark jade “balls.” The leaves felt slightly oily to the touch and had a very flowery smell to them.

I prepared the tea using a gaiwan following the suggested brewing guidelines of 30 sec steep time and using 195F water.

The resulting brew gave me a light yellow-green cup with a seaweed-floral aroma. The taste was very light during the first 3 cups with a clean fresh green taste, subtle floral flavor, and a hint of creaminess. I increased the steep time from 30 secs to 2-5 mins for each subsequent steep, this gave me a more flavorful cup and a darker green-yellow brew. The taste remained almost the same but just more pronounced and slightly creamier.

Overall, you can tell this Ti Kuan Yin is of very high quality; the wet leaves are mostly complete with few signs of damage (I would guess about 90% of the leaves are almost intact, while the rest are either broken or contain stems) and the tea gave me many consecutive steepings without losing any flavor (I steeped it 7 times then discarded the leaves, but I’m sure this tea can be infused even more than that). Flavor-wise I wasn’t very convinced with this tea as it was too “green” for my own taste. I also felt this tea was pretty straight forward and could not find any of the complexities others have raved about. On a positive note, I was impressed on how many cups I made with a single teaspoon of leaves and even after all those steepings, the flavor was still there without any signs of fading. I’d recommend steeping this tea longer than the recommended 30 seconds for a more flavorful cup. While not my favorite of the TKY’s I have, it is quite unique and I will give it another chance using longer steep times.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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17 tasting notes

You know how teas never live up to their smell? This one exceeds it. Imagine drinking the smell of your favorite perfume. (Not your grandmother’s.)

1st infusion: OMG. The mouthfeel is ridiculously, unbelievably silky smooth. Floral, sweetly vegetal, buttery, maybe with a hint of jasmine? The flavor is somehow both delicate and strong. I don’t usually notice color, but it’s a gorgeous sort of yellowy jade hue.

2nd infusion: The vegetal flavor is pushing back the perfumey florals a bit. Still sweet and buttery smooth.

3rd infusion: Getting more vegetal than I’d like, and starting to weaken. It’s rich and buttery enough, not sencha-grassy, that I don’t really care.

Brew with extreme love and care. The second time I made it, I didn’t jump through all the extra hoops that CTG suggests, and it came out disappointing. Seriously though, best tea experience I’ve ever had. Love CTG’s sample program.

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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175 tasting notes


This is pretty good stuff. Sweet, floral. If you’re careful with brewing it turns out light, but I can imagine you can make it a little heavier if you try. For me the sweetness didn’t sustain itself through multiple steepings.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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100 tasting notes

This is my favorite type of tea – and this is one of the best examples of that type of tea. It’s smooth, it’s creamy, it’s crisp. Holy beep this is a good tea. Excellent. I want more.

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