The oolong tea processing in Anxi, Fujian, China, dates back to the early 18th century. During the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty, a scholar named Wu Lizhen discovered a unique tea cultivar in the area, which later became known as Tieguanyin. The discovery of this tea cultivar marked the beginning of the oolong tea production in Anxi.
The terroir and special geological phenomenon of Anxi play a significant role in shaping the characteristics of authentic Anxi Tieguanyin. The region's hilly landscapes, combined with its moderate climate and abundant rainfall, create a suitable environment for tea cultivation. The red slate soil found in Anxi is rich in minerals, which imparts unique flavors and aromas to the tea leaves. The specific combination of terroir elements in Anxi contributes to the distinct and prized characteristics of Anxi Tieguanyin.
The traditional tea processing craftsmanship in Anxi has been refined and passed down through generations. Skilled tea artisans employ meticulous techniques to bring out the special character of Anxi oolong tea. The ball-shaped style of oolong tea is achieved through a twisting and rolling process that involves carefully shaping the tea leaves. This rolling technique, combined with other traditional processing steps such as withering, oxidation, and firing, helps to enhance the flavors and aromas of the tea. Tieguanyin has several manifestations of quality ranging from light and bright floral aromas and a greenish golden tea soup to deeply oxidized and roasted varieties with robust, reddish and sweet tea soups.
The original Tieguanyin tea bush cultivar, which is famous in Anxi, is a crucial factor in the historical importance of the region's tea production. This cultivar, named after the Buddhist deity Guanyin, has been grown in Anxi for centuries. The Tieguanyin tea bush possesses unique genetic characteristics that contribute to the tea's floral aroma, smooth texture, and lingering aftertaste. The combination of the terroir, traditional processing craftsmanship, and the specific Tieguanyin tea bush cultivar has made Anxi a renowned region for producing authentic Tieguanyin oolong tea.