There are two legends that tell of the origin of Tieguanyin Tea, AKA, Ti Kuan Yin, Tit Kwun Yum, Ti Kwan Yin, Iron Buddha, Iron Goddess of Mercy, and Tea of the Iron Bodhisattva. But first we must explore Guanyin for whom it is named. Guanyin or Guan Yin is a Bodhisattva (a being who is able to reach nirvana yet stays in this world to save suffering beings), and is found in all manifestations of Buddhism throughout Asia. She is commonly known as the "Goddess of Mercy" in English. Guanyin is thought to be most the most beloved Buddhist Divinity with miraculous powers to assist all those who pray to her. She is the embodiment of compassion and sometimes compared with the Mystical Judeo/Christian Shekinah, an indwelling presence represented as light and interpreted symbolically as the divine feminine aspect. The two origin stories of the tea tell of the “discovery of Ti Kuan Yin; The Wei Legend and The Wang Legend. The first is about a poor old farmer who walks by a rundown shrine honoring Guanyin and each day burns incense, sweeps and cleans, and returns the shire to a lovely place of honor and peace. One night, Guanyin appears to him in a dream, telling him of a cave behind the temple where a treasure awaited. He was to take the treasure and share it with others. There the farmer found a tea shoot. He planted it in his field and nurtured it into a large bush, from which the finest tea was produced. He gave cuttings of this rare plant to his family and neighbors and all found happiness and prosperity from the tea, which they named Tieguanyin. The Tie does not stand for tea (cha) but rather iron because when the tightly rolled leaves were dropped into a teapot they “rang” as if made of iron. The Wang legend tells of a scholar who accidentally discovered the tea plant beneath the Guanyin rock in Xiping. He brought the plant back home and planted it in his garden. Later when he visited the Emperor he offered the tea as a gift from his native village. The emperor was so impressed that he inquired about its origin. Since the tea was discovered beneath the Guanyin Rock, he decided to call it the Guanyin tea.
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