How to grade Ti Kuan Yin Tea (Tie Guan Yin)?

Ti Kuan Yin is graded based on several important factors. The best way to grade Ti Kuan Yin tea is to compare them side-by-side:

  • Looks: whether tea leaves are sturdy and look alike in terms of color and size. The tea should look fresh as well.
  • Aroma: good Tie Guan Yin has very impressive orchid-like aroma. The most reliable way to differentiate aromas, which is used by almost all tea masters, is to use Gaiwan pot and smell the lid. A lid of a Gaiwan can concentrate the aroma very well. The stronger the aroma is, the better. Please be aware that the aroma here means the one coming out of steeping the tea, not from dry tea. Some dry tea may smell extremely well but taste nothing when steeped.
  • Liquor color: lightly-oxidized Tie Guan Yin will have yellowish green color and more oxidized one will have golden-like color. No matter what color the tea liquor has, it should be clear and pure.
  • Taste: whether the tea liquor is bitter, se, or. When sipping the tea, let the tea liquor stay in your mouth for a while. This will "exaggerate" whatever taste the tea liquor has. Good one will taste even better and bad one will taste worse. For good Tie Guan Yin, you will feel your mouth is full of orchid-like aroma.
  • After-taste: good tea liquor will leave some sweet aftertaste in your mouth. You will also feel the aroma will remain in your whole mouth for a long time.
    Our experience indicates side-by-side comparison is the best way to learn how to grade Tie Guan Yin. You will steep two or three pots of Tie Guan Yin at different grade at the same time and compare them. It could be a very delightful experience when you can tell the subtle difference of aroma, taste, and after taste.

To offer our customers an opportunity to learn more about Ti Kuan Yin tea, we offer two Ti Kuan Yin tea samplers: Light Roast Ti Kuan Yin Samplers and Dark Roast Ti Kuan Yin Samplers, each containing several vacuum-sealed packs for you to try and compare.

One factor not included in above list is freshness. Traditionally freshness is not mentioned when judging Ti Kuan Yin tea because it is a given. However, we have found many Ti Kuan Yin tea on markets outside China are not fresh, probably because they are not stored properly or have been on market for too long.