This spring I visited some of the islands in the East China Sea, southwest of Shanghai. We reached the island by jet boat - with a loud Chinese movie playing the whole way (another version of the video coach which is so popular in India). One can also take a ferry if time is plentiful. Tea has been grown here since the Tang Dynasty, one thousand years ago. The island of Putuoshan, which is where Kuanyin (bodhisattva of mercy and love) is said to come from, is the most famous of the group.
One Thousand Years of History
Planted one thousand years ago during the Tang Dynasty, this green tea is grown on an island in the East China Sea. Picked in March '05, it has a sweet flavor and beautiful small leaves. The lingering finish of this tea is wonderful, we are happy to offer it this year.
Perfect Leaf-and-Bud Sets
Buddha tea, so named because of the region, is grown in a constant sea breeze on the highest point of Zhoushan Island. Once resembling an eyebrow, a classic tea-leaf shape, the leaf's appearance was modified in 1979, and now the perfect leaf-and-bud sets are processed in a small island factory with 16 owners. We are the exclusive distributor for this tea in the U.S.
The Legend of Kuanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Love
Centuries ago in Sand County, Fujian province, China, lived a tea farmer named Mr. Wei. Each morning and evening he used to pass by a temple dedicated to the Goddess T'ieh-Kuan-Yin. He was a poor farmer, but was often moved by the poorer condition of the temple. So he would regularly burn incense inside the temple, sweep the floors, and clean the statue of the Goddess.
Understanding Mr. Wei's deep devotion to her temple, T'ieh-Kuan-Yin appeared to him in a dream and said: "Behind the temple, deep in a cave is a treasure that will last you for generations, but for it to be valuable you must share it with all of your neighbors."
Waking up and rushing to the cave behind the temple, Mr. Wei searched and searched for the treasure. But the only thing he found was a small sprig of a tea bush. Unhappily he took this sprig and planted it in his tea garden. Over the next few years it grew into a bush. When he made tea from the leaves of this bush, he noticed a unique fragrance and amber infusion which lasted over many subsequent steeps of the same leaves.
Mr. Wei propagated the bush further into hundreds of tea bushes and, remembering the instructions of the Goddess, he gave shoots and seeds to all of his neighbors. Traders in the capital heard of the famous tea named after T'ieh-Kuan-Yin and the region that specialized in growing it. Soon all of the farmers in Sand County became prosperous and Tieguanyin Oolong developed a national reputation. The temple was repaired and funds put aside for its upkeep.