I had never heard of the tea called Iron Goddess of Mercy (or Guanyin/Kuanyin) until I was doing research on Chinese Tea Mythology. Just like Monkey Picked, there is a magical story tied to this tea.
In Fujian’s Shaxian province of China, there was once an old run down stone temple that was in ruins. Inside the temple was a beautiful iron statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy.
Once there was a simple farmer who went to the temple to pray. He had gone many times to try and gain the Goddess’ favor for the area was riddled in poverty and drought. The farmer wanted his home and community to be prosperous. The farmer would come to temple every day to clean the temple and rid the area of twigs, wayward leaves and dust. He would light incense that he thought that maybe the Goddess would enjoy. He did this in hopes that the Goddess would take pity on his village and help regain their prosperity.
One day, when the farmer came into the pray, he found that the statue had come alive. The farmer fell to his knees to pray.
“The key for your future is just outside this temple. Nourish it with tenderness; it will support you and yours for generations to come,” the Goddess whispered, her voice full of kindness.
Then as quickly as she came alive, the statue grew still again.
It took the farmer several minutes to recover from the shock. Did the Goddess really speak to him? He decided to take a chance on what the Goddess said to him. He walked outside and found a dried and withered little bush.
“You are a gift from Guanyin, I shall treasure you,” said the farmer as he cleaned the area around the bush.
The farmer continued his daily pilgrimage. He cleaned the temple, lit incense and watered the bush. He continued this ritual until the leaves were healthy and thick. He discovered that the leaves mixed with hot water made a delicious tea. He let the bush grow more before he cut branches to give others in the community and soon the whole village had their own piece of the magical bush and thus grew prosperous.
One day, while experimenting with the tea, the farmer dried the leaves until they turned a charcoal black. The farmer found this reminiscent of his iron Goddess. The experiment paid off because it created an even finer tea than he had ever tasted. He called this concoction Ti Kuan Yin, the tea of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
I found this to be a beautiful story of faith and man’s capacity to help his community. What do you all think of this story?
One thought on “Chinese Tea Mythology: Tie Kuan Yin – Iron Goddess of Mercy”
Wow, I never new that story about the “iron” bit to the old oolong title. Fascinating read, Chris.