The Red Heart
In the Ti Kuan Yin world, there are basically two varietals, Golden Heart, and Red Heart. They are so named because of the color of the bud when the plant is growing, one is red, the other is more golden. There are also legends about TKY, because it is considered the mother of all Oolongs.
One story goes like this: Once upon a time, a young man called Wong See Yeung went to the South Sun Book School. In order to advance himself, he applied for a job as a government official. To attain the position, he would have to pass a test. He wanted to bring with him to the test a tea to represent him and his hometown. Luckily, he managed to pass along a sample of his tea and it fell into the hands of the king. Upon seeing and tasting the tea, the king proclaimed it heavy as iron (because it was pressed into a ball shape) and as beautiful as Kuan Yin. Later, Wong See Yeun learned he had passed his test. Upon hearing his good news, he brought a gift of tea in tribute to the king. The king asked him: what is this tea called? Wong said he didn't know, but he thought the king had done the tea justice by reflecting wisely that the tea was heavy as iron, and as beautiful as Kuan Yin, would the king be offended if he called it Ti Kuan Yin? And thus, the name was given.
This spring, the Red Heart TKY we tasted was like no other oolong I have had. Toasty and roasted, but not overly dark, with rich bready notes, this tea has a warm and comforting feel to it. This year's tea is not tightly rolled, and that means after the first two brews the tea flavor completely opens up, giving a big aroma and a bright taste. Notes of honey linger and there is no mistaking the soft and heady air of a red rose on a hot summer day that lingers. This will be a tea I will enjoy for this season, and if I guess correctly, a bench mark for Red Heart tea I look forward to tasting in years to come.