Tie Luo Han is one of the Famous 4 Wuyi Rock Teas and also believed to be the earliest Wu Yi tea; with history records dating back to Song Dynasty.
The tea bush was first found in a cave (Gui Dong or Ghost Cave) in Hui Yuan Yan, one of the ninety-nine cliffs of Mount Wu Yi.
Legend tells that this tea was created by a powerful warrior monk with golden-bronze skin, hence the name Tie Luo Han, which means "Iron Warrior Monk".
Tie Luo Han, all but unknown abroad, is the cultivar responsible for one of the four most famous yan cha, the great "rock teas" grown on cliffs in the Wuyi Shan area of Northern Fujian, the Chinese province on the southeastern coast facing Taiwan. Luo Han is derived from an ancient Buddhist Sanskrit term, "Arahant" which was earlier derived from “Arihan” (those who subdue or attain victory over foes). Tie Luo Han might be fancifully translated "Iron Apostle" or "Iron Warrior Monk" being the Chinese for "arhat" or "bodhisattva," and "iron" describing the tea's darkish appearance.
Iron Warrior Monk, Wu Yi Tie Luo Han, Iron Buddha, Iron Apostle,Iron Arhat
Wu Yi Shan(Mt.Wuyi), Fujian Province of China
For hundreds of years, this process was kept secret by tea makers in China, and even getting a glimpse into the intricate inner workings was virtually impossible for outsiders.Therefor the art of making oolong tea is little known outside China.
Nowadays, even though most of the steps are public knowledge, aspiring imitators still find it hard to master the all of the skills needed to make truly great oolong tea.
Oolong tea can be machine or handmade. Premium grade oolong teas, such as the high grade Wuyi Rock tea and Anxi Tieguanyin, are always handmade.
Generally speaking, there are 7 major steps in processing Wu Yi oolong tea.
Grade & Inspection
Dry leaves appearance:
Tender and strong leaves are very well processed into even curly stripes. Dark color leaves thin white frosted coat on the surface.
Warm roasted aroma combined with creamy, roasted cacao hint and thin fruity aroma.
Heavy and thick liquor offers a rich tea taste. The tea shows a deep and thin orchid like flowery aroma after opening up. By breathing with the nose, its unique mineral feeling combined with a typical astringent flavor that fills up each taste bud. The tea gives a sweet pear touch at the end which is fresh and refreshing that leaves a minty feeling in the mouth.