This seems to be a standard version of lighter-style Tie Guan Yin. The webpage description serves as an
introduction to the version, including a bit on aspects (an excerpt):
"The Emperor of Tie Guanyin" was made in September 2018 by the county by qing xiang technology
(light fermentation, moderate fire)….
It has a floral-herbaceous bouquet of melon and peach. The aroma is high, floral-herbaceous. The
taste is full-bodied and rich, with a sweet berry finish.
The flavor is bright, sweet, and intense; this is the right range for light Tie Guan Yin. It’s mostly floral,
trailing into a hint of roasted sweet corn. The overall intensity and brightness is novel (typical of the
type, for good quality versions, just novel related to other teas). Tea thickness and aftertaste are nice
but those will probably develop even further across more infusions.
The flavor range is mostly floral, a bright version of one, a flower type that is difficult to pin down. It’s
sweet, but not as heavy as even orchids tend to be, which aren’t heavy in the sense that lavender or
roses are. Maybe like daisies, or some other wildflowers. That will be a limitation of this review, really
isolating which flower this tastes like. There should be more to add across later infusions as well, about
how the tea changes.
Intensity ramps up; using a packed gaiwan proportion this tea will be best using very fast infusions.
Unlike with sheng the idea isn’t to brew around aspects that don’t work as well at a higher infusion
strength, to get astringency and bitterness to balance, but instead to keep the intensity at a nice level,
not ramping up overall brewed strength and aspects balance to let the flavor and other range come
across better at a lower level. This went a little long (just not that much over 15 seconds), due to
messing around with water and other distractions, and that gives it an interesting thick feel and
increases mineral intensity and feel structure, but the bright flavor doesn’t shine through quite as well at
this more medium or slightly above optimum strength.
Flavors are still clean and bright, and it definitely retains the intensity brewed slightly stronger. It’s still
floral with a hint of sweet corn, but mineral is playing a larger role in this infusion. Sweetness is still
intense, and the tea is very clean in effect.
Better versions would swap out that bit of sweet corn for even more bright floral range. That would be
about it. This tea is good, well above average, but there is quality range beyond it, potential for it to be
better. There is only limited room for sweetness, clean effect, and mouth feel to ramp up; those aspects
are pronounced in this tea. Related to the tea potentially being thicker, it is thick in feel as most tea
versions go, but TGY can extend into an unusual level of fullness of feel, as high mountain Taiwanese
The next infusion was brewed fast, and it balances better that way, but still works well at both
intensities. The flavor and other aspects aren’t necessarily transitioning much. They will shift a little
across a whole cycle but it’s not the kind of tea that changes character as you continue to brew it. In
some other cases that sort of change relates to a tea balancing better at certain points, or “cleaning up”
in flavor range initially. It’s nice that Tie Kuan Yin versions tend to work well related to both across all
the infusions; they typically start out the infusion cycle very pleasant and continue to express a decent
balance of aspects and flavor range well into a long infusion count. This tea type just makes for a simple
experience, in that the main flavor profile is what you tend you get (in the sense it doesn’t change or
transition; it includes other aspect range to appreciate).
Brewing the tea at different temperatures would change things. Per one conventional take it would
work best using either boiling point water or relatively hot water, at 90 C or so. Personal preference
related to how even a minor shift in temperature can affect aspects could be a factor. The webpage
brewing recommendation cites 85 C as the optimum temperature; that is a standard temperature-table
suggestion. Comparing brewing results at multiple temperatures would determine if there really is a
reason why using cooler water works better in this case (85 C instead of 90 or higher), but regardless of
outcome personal preference for aspects may cause any trial-based findings to still be a bit relative.
That general temperature consideration might cause variations in not just the initial water temperature
but also brewing process and how one drinks tea to change the final outcome. If someone is rushing to
brew tea with a fast breakfast that would compress the sequence of infusions, in effect raising the
temperature of water used, since the tea leaves and device wouldn’t have time to cool between rounds.
If someone was brewing tea for tasting review, or just enjoying a tea at a leisurely pace, then the extra
minutes between rounds could allow that to happen, for the wet leaves and device to cool more,
dropping the final temperature of the infused leaves.
On the next infusion it does shift a little; the aspects set that was there is picking up a trace of pine as
well. It’s a great match with the rest of the range. Experiencing a little variation was nice and this effect
is also a bit new to me, or at least noticing it in a TGY is new per what I remember of others (it’s not the
type I drink most of; at least in the last three years I’ve had more exposure to sheng pu’er, shu, black
and white teas, and Wuyi Yancha oolong).
This pine-aspect flavor note ties over to talking about terpenes in a different place, one of the main
aromatic compounds responsible for aromas in foods in general, and in teas.
The flavor and aroma of each tea depends on a wide variety of combinations of these compounds,
hence the name aroma complex. Compounds such as, linalool and linalool oxide are responsible for
sweetness; geraniol and phenylacetaldehyde are responsible for floral aromas; nerolidol,
benzaldehyde, methyl salicylate, and phenyl ethanol are responsible for fruity flavors; and trans-2-
hexenal, n-hexanal, cis-3-hexenol, and b-ionone are responsible for a tea’s fresh flavor…
The first, linalool, is actually a linear terpene.
I don’t use any drugs, or even drink much alcohol for that matter, but this general subject tied to
another reference related to that theme that came up, which mentions the specific link back to the main
compound responsible for the main pine flavor element:
There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence and at least 100 produced by the Cannabis plant…
Pinene (pine): Pinene is the most common terpene in the world, and has anti-inflammatory
properties. It’s also found in orange peels, pine needles, basil, and parsley. It’s been known to counter
short-term memory loss from THC, improve airflow to your lungs, and promote alertness…
It’s a bit of a secondary tangent, but natural compounds in tea and other foods and herbs can have
beneficial effects (although not all claims made describing those are well-grounded), as described
further in that reference related to terpenes:
…terpenes have their own effects… including inhibiting serotonin uptake and enhancing
norepinephrine activity (acting as antidepressants), increasing dopamine (regulating emotions and
pleasure experiences), and augmenting GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter associated with
Different people experience different sensitivity to the effects of tea, on mood, alertness, calmness, and
so on. Mapping these back to the contributions of related compounds is problematic but the general
experience is definitely grounded in an understanding of the complex range of compounds found in tea.
Back to the tea.
The next infusion is about the same. The texture may have shifted some over the last couple of rounds.
It seems a bit creamier; maybe more full too, but at least slightly different in effect. Still that one catchy
floral aspect stands out, even though the touch of sweet corn has mostly been replaced by a touch of
pine. Even many infusions in the aroma is still bright and intense.
As type-typical quality markers go for TGY (level of sweetness, thickness, pronounced bright floral range,
aftertaste) this tea is nice, even if it does leave a little room for potential improvement. It’s what some
vendors would sell as the highest quality Tie Guan Yin available, even though it’s really only well above a
typical average, so not that.
The next infusion hasn’t changed much, but slightly longer infusion times will be required to draw out
the same intensity (so at least 15 seconds now, or longer depending on preference; still not long). The
brightness is fading but the tea holds a really positive, consistent character well, more interesting
andpleasant for that transition to include a touch of pine flavor aspect.
All in all it’s a pleasant version of Tie Guan Yin.