One of the famous rock teas from Anxi region in the Fujian province, this oolong announces itself the moment the bag is opened. Fragrant. Floral. Fresh. Fabulous.
They say a picture is as good as a thousand words. New Zealand artist, Rita Angus, does a superb job of capturing the nuances of this tea in her ‘antipodean’ version of the Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion Guan Yin, who happens to be the namesake of this tea. It is believed the artist saw Guan Yin as a bronze figure in the 1937 exhibition of Chinese art that toured the main centres of New Zealand. In her painting, she depicts the much revered semi-deity as a gracious young woman, her palm exposed in a gesture of benediction, and clutching a lotus flower. The style employs themes from New Zealand and Pacific art, and yet the floral pattern of the goddess’s skirt recalls Chinese ceramic designs.
Sipping this tea, it is like taking a journey through the painting. The artfully curled, hand-rolled leaves render a golden cup that has a distinctive flavour profile: a soft buttery texture and a floral (osmanthus or orchid) attack. It is also slightly vegetal with only slight bitterness. When the last drop has been extracted from the tea pot or gaiwan, the tea offers further contemplation with a note of honey-dew melon remaining long in the mouth. Interestingly, the infused leaves when opened are slightly folded which give them the appearance of hands held in meditation; reminiscent of Guan Yin. This is, indeed, a purifying and meditative beverage; ideal for quiet moments with a book (or a piece of art).
Note: Like the ‘Golden Osmanthus’ oolong, this is not a scented tea.