Tie Guan Yin Tea - Traditional versus Fragrant

by Boris

Hey Jules, I wanted to ask you something regarding Tie Guan Yin tea.

I read somewhere online that this tea is not produced as before - namely that with the rise in popularity of the Taiwanese light fragrant oolongs, Tie Guan Yin manufacturers in China started also to make it more like that.

So today most of the production has changed from the traditional way this tea was produced.

Is this so? And can you get this type of TGY?


You must be the second person to call me Jules. Hmm... kind of like that.


Traditional Tie Guan Yin tea is what is now called the Nong Xiang flavor i.e. about 30% oxidised.

(Nong Xiang means strong fragrance. Or more meaningfully translated as strong body, lower frequency fragrance.)

It is not as light as the 10% oxidised level like the Taiwanese Baozhong, but still aromatic, medium light body and fragrant.

We currently on sell one of this variety in the 3-in-1 combo - the AA grade.

Iron Goddess Tea
Shen's Tieguanyin Oolong - Discovered In 3 Years

In recent years, the Anxi manufacturers have innovated and created stunning varieties of Tie Guan Yin.

The less oxidised, higher frequency, more fragrant types are the Qing Xiang and Yun Xiang.

(Both are featured in the 3-in-1).

The aged and roasted variety is the Chen Xiang. It is the 2-in-1 combo.

So they have gone in all directions, not just trying to be more fragrant.

Usually the higher grades are less oxidised and more fragrant. I guess it just takes a lot more effort to make the tea more aromatic and fragrant.

As for the reasons for this shift towards higher frequency aroma, I do not think it is due to the popularity of Taiwanese teas.

(Taiwanese tea is not that popular in mainland China. Tie Guan Yin tea is the bulk oolong market in China.)

I think it is more to do with the Anxi manufacturers trying to appeal to the bulk population of green tea drinkers, who prefer Tie Guan Tea to be more aromatic (at the expense of less body).

I hope this explains it.


Comments for Tie Guan Yin Tea - Traditional versus Fragrant

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Nov 20, 2009
Is it roasted?
by: Boris

Regarding the traditional versus fragrant TGY I read your answer that it is just a matter of heavier oxidation. The text I read mentions that the traditional is also roasted. What do you say?

This is the link where I read this:


Nov 20, 2009
More clarification...
by: Julian

As you may have observed, there is no disagreement on terminology - Seven Cups use the word Long Xiang, which is a corruption of Nong Xiang that I refer to above.

Where we disagree is that they say Nong Xiang is the old style AND it is roasted.

I take a broader definition - Nong Xiang is 30% oxidised, higher than the newer styles such as Yun Xiang and Qing Xiang. It can be roasted and unroasted.

I disagree that Nong Xiang is wholly roasted. Most of the authoritative Chinese texts I have gone through actually refers to the unroasted variety is being the traditional way.

The roasting is refers to as "Bei Huo", or oven-firing. In the old time it was charcoal, nowadays it is electric oven.

(There is a loss of quality, but I don't mind, it is more environmental.)

Now, while unroasted is the original style of the Tie Guan Yin school, it is true that most Southerners prefer to drink their tea roasted - gongfu style.

(To drink the unroasted Nong Xiang, it is best to use white porcelain.)

An introduction to the four schools can be found here...

Loose Oolong Tea Varieties - Introducing The Four Great Schools

If you want something roasted, the 2-in-1 Aged and Roasted combo is what I offer.

We call it Chen Xiang - meaning aged fragrance.

It is oxidised, roasted then aged 3 to 5 years.

The effects is special - combining the body you would expect of an Wuyi roasted tea and the high fragrance you would expect of a Tie Guan Tea.

I hope this helps.


Personally, I love the aged and roasted tea, but there is no denying that it is the fragrant tea that is at the cutting edge

The Four Kings Combo, for example, comes up with Osmanthus aroma instead of the usual orchid.

Within the new styles they have also breakthroughs in sub-styles such as the Qing Suan (Aromatic Acidic), ZhengWei (harmonious taste and aroma with focus on after-feeling and taste).

Exciting stuff!

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