Tieguanyin is a premium variety of Chinese oolong tea originated in the 19th century in Anxi in Fujian province. Tieguanyin produced in different areas of Anxi have different gastronomic characteristics.
The tea is named after the Chinese Goddess of Mercy Guanyin, who is known in Japan as Kannon and in Korea as Guan-eum. Guanyin is a female embodiment of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. Other spellings and names include "Ti Kuan Yin," "Tit Kwun Yum," "Ti Kwan Yin," "Iron Buddha," "Iron Goddess Oolong," and "Tea of the Iron Bodhisattva." It is also known in the abbreviated form as "TGY."
Based on the different roasting methods and locations, there are various types of Tieguanyin.
Anxi Tieguanyin Tea – This oolong is typically close to a green tea, with only a little oxidation. With a very flowery and fresh delicate aroma character, the tea liquid is golden yellow.
Muzha Tieguanyin Tea – This traditional oolong is roasted and has a stronger taste and with roast nutty character, the tea liquid is reddish-brown.
In Taiwan, the name Iron Goddess Tea is also used to describe a type of oolong tea that is roasted using the Iron Goddess Tea method, regardless of the type of tea leaves used. Therefore, Taiwanese Iron Goddess Tea could be made with Iron Goddess Tea leaves, or without.
The top varieties of Tieguanyin rank among the most expensive tea in the world, with one variety reportedly sold at around $3,000 (USD) for one kilogram. According to one source, it set the record for most expensive tea ever sold in the United Kingdom. However, that variety of Tieguanyin did not outsell a rarer Da Hong Pao oolong, which is the most expensive tea sold on the global market.