new arrival Tieguanyin Charcoal Roasted oolong tea

Tieguanyin Charcoal Roasted


Add to Wishlist
Add to Wishlist

Oolong Tea


Tieguanyin Charcoal Roasted
Gan de Village


Tea bush varietal/ cultivar:
Style/Shape: semiball-rolled leaf style with a bit of attached stem
Plucking Style: hand-plucked
Oxidation: 25-40% oxidation
Roasting: Medium charcoal-roasting in the traditional manner


Appearance: mottled brown and artichoke leaf
Flavor: full, rich, smooth, and sweet, with a honeyed stone-fruit flavor that is charcoal-clean
Aroma: dry, stone-fruit aroma with delightful hints of burnt toast
Liquor: golden straw-colored liquor


Gan De Village, Anxi Region
Fujian Province, China

2017 Spring Pluck

Steeping Note:


Oolongs are traditionally ‘rinsed’ before being steeped.
This is done with a quick application of hot water that is poured over the tea in the gaiwan or teapot and then immediately discarded. The rinse water is not drunk – its purpose is to help the leaves begin to open during steeping.
Use additional appropriately-heated water for the 1st steeping and subsequent re-steepings.

Oolongs exemplify the concept that some teas can be re-steeped multiple times and yield an incredible volume of drinkable tea. This practice works best when the leaf is steeped in a small vessel, but it also works reasonably well using a large teapot. Please refer to our steeping instructions for details.


Western-style steeping in a medium-large teapot 25-32 ounces:


Use 2 teaspoons (2-3 grams) of tea for each 6 oz water
Rinse the tea in your teapot with a quick application of hot water
Immediately discard this liquid
Add additional hot water to start the 1st steeping
Re-steep 3 additional times (or more!) for 2 minutes each
Water temperature should be 180°F-190°F


Asian-style steeping in a small teapot under 10 oz  or in a gaiwan:


Use 4 teaspoons (4-6 grams) of tea for each 5-6 oz water
Rinse the tea in your tea vessel with a quick application of hot water
Immediately discard this liquid.
Add additional hot water to start the 1st steeping
Re-steep 6-8 additional times (or more!) for 35 seconds to 1 minute each
Water temperature should be 180°F-190°F

Even though this Tieguanyin is not classified as ‘Monkey-picked’, we include this section in for your amusement!

We get a lot of questions about the name of this exquisite tea. And, there seems to be a lot of mis-representation of this tea on the Internet. So, let us explain and try to untangle the confusion.

First, this tea is not plucked by monkeys. This story is a Chinese folk legend, famously fanciful, emblematic and richly-embellished by those who add new twists and turns to the story with each re-telling.


So where did this notion come from ? Perhaps it stems from the Chinese legend of the Monkey King, the main character in the book Journey to the West  written by Wu Ch’eng-en, a scholar official in the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). This book is a renowned classical Chinese story about an allegorical journey, that is complete with Chinese tales, legends, superstitions, popular beliefs, and Buddhist and Daoist ideals.


Monkey King is a bit of a scamp, and his adventures are a thinly veiled political/social satire layered with meaning and innuendo. He is a simple creature who gained powers far greater than those of Superman – he attained the level of a Chinese Immortal – and he gets himself in and out of a peck of trouble.


Or perhaps these ideas hearken back to the late 1700’s during the early days of the China Tea Trade with England. Spice and tea traders,  explorers and visiting dignitaries returned home and reported that everything about this far away place was exotic, colorful and fantastic. The notion of ’fantastic’ is certainly true in early illustrations, prints and watercolors that present delightful images of small monkeys scampering up and down tea trees in idyllic locales, nimbly tossing fists-full of tea leaves to humans standing below among tea baskets lined up waiting to be filled.


As engaging as these images are, anyone who has encountered monkeys in the wild know that it is far more likely that these mischievous animals will lob fruit at your head, and that bands of audacious, barking resident monkeys love to harass visitors in forested wildlife areas, demanding food for passage. Even being so bold as to try and reach into pants pockets for bright and shiny things. Such experiences debunk any notion that co-operative tea plucking ever occurred between monkeys and humans.


So then, what does Monkey-Picked Tieguanyin oolong mean? Tieguanyin has always been highy prized, and as with all Chinese tea, many grades of quality of this tea exist.  When tea producers bestow the term ’Monkey-Picked’ to their tea, it is a designation that means unrivaled quality because one of two reasons:

1. that this particular batch of tea came from a tea garden located at a very high elevation ( the higher the elevation, the finer the leaf and the finer the tea )

2. that the tea was plucked from tea bushes growing in difficult to reach places; ie. nearly inaccessible places that require the tea pluckers be ’as agile as a monkey.’


I also think that there is a third, veiled meaning to the term ( don’t all Chinese legends have a veiled meaning? )  During the Song, Ming and Ching dynasties, tribute gifts (tax offerings to the emperor) included rare and costly teas that were cultivated, plucked and prepared exclusively for the enjoyment of the emperor. Perhaps the term began to be used to signify tea that was ‘out of reach’ of the average person. Tea for the emperor and his court would never be available to the average citizen – hence, out of reach in cost and out of reach in availability.


Or perhaps the story was ( and I like this idea as well ) quite simply an easy joke played on the naive European traders by the worldly, tea-savvy Chinese back in the 18th century ! Could the Chinese ever have imagined that 300 years later, there would still be those among us who still believe this fantastic tale?


Monkey-Picked Tieguanyin story adapted from Tea Trekkers blog and our book The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide

Charcoal-roasting is the traditional ‘finishing’ method for classic oolongs in both China and Taiwan. Roasted oolongs are still popular in Taiwan with tea connoisseurs, as proper roasting will round out the rough ‘green’ edges of a tea that will be drunk young, or allow a tea that is put aside for aging to do so both gracefully and flavorfully.
Roasting oolongs over a low ember fire is the traditional style of finish-firing ( drying ) the tea. In fact, the person who fires the tea is considered to be as important to the entire process as are all the workers who manufacture the tea in the tea ‘factory’, (large or small, a modern plant or humble village pavilion). Everything is lost with a charcoal firing gone awry or one that is either too light or too heavy-handed. Look closely at this tea, and instead of individual leaves, you will see medium-sized, irregular balls of leaf with some visible stem attached. The color of this leaf is a deep, army green-brown color; and the finish is quite dull.

While many semiball-rolled style oolongs are made from different tea bush cultivars in the Anxi region (Ben Shan, Huang Jin Gui, Mao Xie and more) , authentic Tieguanyin such as this one has a characteristic and readily identifiable fragrance that sets it apart from other similar oolongs.

Tieguanyin has always been highly prized, and as with all Chinese tea, many grades of quality of this tea exist. Our charcoal-roasted TGY has its origins around the Anxi region, in southern Fujian Province (Min-Nan), the place for semiball-rolled style oolong.

True to form, spring-pluck Tieguanyin has high fragrance and substantial flavor in the cup. The aroma of this tea has a brisk, mineral quality. This is derived from the soil and is reminiscent of the crisp steeliness of minerals (the taste of stones in a mountain stream) a quality that harmonizes well with its inherently bright floral taste, adding complexity and verve to the flavor. A subtle hint of celery may also appear as a vegetal note. Expect a woodsy, tree bark, lingering aftertaste that is the hallmark of a well-made, old-school Tieguanyin.

The lush undertones of this deep-green/brown, hand-rolled oolong are coddled by repeated controlled firing over a low-ember charcoal fire. This is classic Tieguanyin but with less oxidation ( and roasting ) than in the old days.

What materializes in this tea instead of the floral green notes, is a rich symphony of restrained, elegant flavors: honey, stone fruit, a bit of chestnut and pear and of course, the intrinsic, complex, and difficult-to-describe flavor of Tieguanyin leaf. Charcoal-firing lengthens the finish and smooths the sometimes harsh, youthful edges of other semiball-rolled oolongs. This currently-popular style of ‘charcoal-fired’ Tieguanyin has an intriguing background flavor and aroma that we refer to as ‘biscuit’ (petit beurre, or burnt-toast) that does not linger on the palate because of its charcoal-clean finish.

This is a medium-oxidized, traditional-style, semiball-rolled & roasted oolong that is a lovely dark-brown in color. The roasted semiball-rolled oolongs have always been more popular in China, Malaysia and Taiwan than with tea drinkers in the West, particularly Germany & Russia, Canada & the US.

Tea Trekker’s 2017 spring Tieguanyin Charcoal roasted-style oolong can be enjoyed over the course of many short steepings. The infusions will vary, initially being clear and light, then becoming very rich and mouth-filling (‘brothy’) before finally returning to an aromatic, clear infusion.

This idea works best when the leaf is steeped in a small vessel, but it also works using a large teapot.

The expertly-crimped leaves will swell and open fully, exposing the whole leaf, showing off the lovely crimson-tinged edges of the authentic Tieguanyin leaf. The crimson edging is much more difficult to observe in a roasted oolong than the modern-style ‘clear & fragrant’ style manufacture. However, when steeping, and especially by the 3rd or 4th infusion, the leaves will have opened to an astonishingly large size in the cup. Be sure to pull some out, lay them on a table, and carefully examine the leaves to see the full glory of this type of pluck.

Multiple infusions are necessary to reach the heart of this tea, a totally pleasurable journey.


Want to know more?

img-more_famous China’s Famous Tea