Huang Guan Yin (黄观音), or Yellow Guanyin, is one of our Wuyi oolong tea products. To non-Chinese speakers, the name “Huang Guan Yin” might be difficult to pronounce and remember. In Chinese, Huang (黄, pronounced: hwang, and yes, the same character is also a large Chinese family name) means yellow, and Guan Yin (观音) is the Chinese name of the Buddhist bodhisattva known today as “Avalokitesvara”.
Because its name is associated with a Buddhist figure that’s often depicted as a female (although it’s not gender specific), we used to introduce Huang Guan Yin as “Yellow Goddess” to our U.S. clients in about 10 years ago. At that time, we thought the easier pronunciation might help our clients better understand this tea. However, we quickly changed the name back to Huang Guan Yin because it actually confused people even more.
The name “Yellow Goddess” contains the color “yellow” and a feminine figure “goddess”. With this combination, many people take the literal meaning of the name and assumed Huang Guan Yin has a yellow-color tea leaf and a softer taste.
This is obviously a misunderstanding. In fact, Huang Guan Yin doesn’t have a yellow color or a feminine taste. The origin of the name traces all the way back to how Huang Guan Yin was created in the first place.
Huang Guan Yin was first developed by Fujian Province Academy of Agricultural Sciences. As a matter of fact, Huang Guan Yin is not a tea produced by single-variety tea plants like Rou Gui or Shui Xian. Scientists hybridized Huang Dan (黄旦, a single-variety tea plant) and Tie Guan Yin (铁观音, a single-variety tea plant) and created Huang Guan Yin as a new cultivar. Scientists simply took the first character of Huang Dan and the last two characters of Tie Guan Yin and named the new cultivar Huang Guan Yin.
(Since Huang Guan Yin is the product of an agricultural research, it has a serial number: 105. In our tea production, we refer Huang Guan Yin as 105)
The marriage between Huang Dan and Tie Guan Yin delivered many charming descendants. Our Golden Peony is a close relative of Huang Guan Yin. They share many similar characteristics. (please click here for previous blogs on Golden Peony)
Huang Guan Yin matures earlier than Rou Gui and Shui Xian. It’s one of the first tea plants get harvested in spring season. You can see a Huang Guan Yin leaf below, it has no yellow color. To an untrained eye, Huang Guan Yin leaf doesn’t really differ from other Wuyi oolong tea leaves. (click here for our previous blog on tea leaf comparison)
The biggest “feature” of Huang Guan Yin is its sharp aroma. It’s that kind of smell that catches you the moment hot water touches dry leaves. In our previous blogs, we mentioned many times that Rou Gui, the king of Wuyi oolong, is most famous for its sharp aroma. Huang Guan Yin, the new comer, has an equally charming aroma.
Because of its notable aroma, Huang Guan Yin became an crucial element in Da Hong Pao products. (Learn more about the concept of Da Hong Pao here: Part I, Part II, Part III.) With low level fermentation, Huang Guan Yin can develop many floral fragrances such as sweet osmanthus, magnolia, cape jasmine, etc. Nonetheless, it’d be wrong if you think Huang Guan Yin only has floral fragrances. With a slightly stronger fermentation, Huang Guan Yin can present multiple satisfactory fruity fragrances that few teas can compare.
Huang Guan Yin is truly a breath of fresh air in the world of tea. Many tea lovers thought that only single-variety teas have the best taste. Once you experience Huang Guan Yin, you’ll understand just how grownup Huang Guan Yin is. It’s a energetic, refreshing and dominating Wuyi oolong that’d certainly capture your tea appetite.
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