The name of this tea, “Iron Goddess,” suggests a beverage with a punch. In contrast, the tea is actually very smooth, but I may still be destined to receive that punch!
The phrase makes me think of my sister, although she may not appreciate the flattery intended in that. She has admirable home-management skills, making her the closest thing to a domestic goddess that I know, but don’t imagine for a second that means she is an apron-wearing softy. She doesn’t need to be rocking her corporate heels to verbally — proverbially — kick ass.
The fully translated name of this tea (which is not always used) is “Iron Goddess of Mercy” and it’s worth mentioning that last bit because it really changes the connotation. In Chinese, the name refers to Guanyin, a compassionate, enlightened being. Not an ass-kicker and not even necessarily a female.
In terms of flavour, the tea is mild and sweet, like my sister most of the time. It’s an oolong tea, meaning that it goes through a lengthy and complicated process, including partial oxidisation, that sounds like a line dance (pluck, wither, toss and roll).
The resulting little pellets of tea unfurl as they brew into a caramel-coloured, mellow flavoured liquid. It doesn’t have the bitterness of black tea, or the grassiness of green tea and it’s a bit flowery. It can be steeped more than once and some believe that this even improves the flavour.
My tea came from the wonderful Tea Leaves shop in Sassafras, and the Iron Goddess of Mercy variety originates in Fujian province of China, which is about halfway between Shanghai and Hong Kong. I’m probably going to have to run away there when my sister reads this… or perhaps she’ll be pleased if I brew her a pot of this lovely fragrant drink.