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Edit: From the UK site, there is good reason to believe that Twining's is ALSO Iron Goddess of Mercy, but it tastes nothing like the IGoM I got from Numi. From what I've read about oolong, "nutty and fruity" are not typical characteristics of IGoM, where as the floral, honey suckle-like flavor of Numi's is. So I'm thinking Twingings is mislabeling their tea since Iron Goddess of Mercy is a well known type of oolong. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen tea mislabeled so its not unthinkable. This chances the question, to "what oolong is nutty and fruity".

Recently I discovered that I love Twining's oolong tea. It has a light, refreshing flavor. Unfortunately, in the US, it is only sold in units of 20 bags, so I purchased a 1 pound bag of Numi's Iron Goddess of Mercy.

The tea is certainly good, but I prefer the Twinings. Where Twinings is nutty and fruity, and it tastes like neither black nor green tea, Numi's tastes much like green tea with a floral falvor. Its still good, but I like the Twinings better.

I then looked up oolong and found that unlike green, black, and white tea, oolong has a wider range of variation. While its true you can have different types of green or black tea (Darjeeling, gunpowder green, sencha, macha...) those all have, at their base, the same ingredient: camellia sinensis leaves that have been dried and processed either with 100% oxidation (black), or 0% (green and white). The difference between green and white is then when the leaves are plucked.

In the case of oolong, the oxidation, and the means of oxidizing, varies greatly (from 8% to 80%), and from mild bruising to fermenting. Iron Goddess of Mercy is one such type of oolong.

My question is then, "what type of oolong does Twinings sell" because I would like to buy a big bag of the stuff (albeit from another company).

Another bit of information that might help: The tea, brewed, is darker than the Iron Goddess of Mercy tea (at least Numi's) which implies greater oxidation.

  • This is on topic to me, I just have no idea. – GdD Apr 5 at 9:22
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    Iron Goddess of Mercy is not made in just one style. There is a light (green) version and a dark (traditional) version. At the moment, it's the light version that is more popular. – aris Apr 6 at 20:33
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From the UK site, it looks like it is also a type of Tieguanyin tea from Anxi in Fujian Province. Now Tieguanyin translates to "Iron Goddess of Mercy", so you are heading in the right direction.

I suspect, having had some incidental exposure to the tea manufacturing process for a different manufacturer, that the exact blend will be a matter of which farms they get the tea from, and which methods they use for preparation. These are likely single supplier farms - so they will only sell to Twinings or a handful of companies. It is said that teas have a terroir similar and even more complex than those ascribed to wines, so it could well be that the taste is down to the farms they have as suppliers.

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    I don't know...That link actually shows three different types of oolong. Only one is sourced from China (which is the case for what I have), but considering three are given with different names when the US box simply says "oolong" leaves the possibility that they might be different products. The oxidation levels are quite different, and that's doesn't have to do with where it was farmed. That's a processing thing. Its an unsatisfactory answer, but it would seem two companies are call two different things by the same name...I need to rephrase my question. Thanks, have an upvote. – Nero gris Apr 5 at 18:41
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    Huh, I was sure I had pasted the link just for the Tieguanyin one - it turns out, I had just selected the "China" filter on the left-hand side. I see that the USA site says Fine Oolong tea expertly selected from the Fujian province, China. - which led me to filter for China. The Amazon ones say similar things for the US supplied tea - though they mention "mainly...Fujian" – bob1 Apr 5 at 19:17
  • After reading the comments, and more about Iron Goddess of Mercy tea, I think Twingings is accurately labeling their tea and its Numi that is selling their tea under an inappropriate name. – Nero gris Apr 6 at 13:47
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Tieguanyin is commonly a light oolong with floral characteristics. fruity and caramel like flavours are less coming, but not impossible. Slight variation can processing, or ratio of stem/leaf can make a lot of difference. For Twinings tea, given the color of the dry leaf, I think the leaves are slightly more oxidized before they're 'fixed'. This could developer more fruity notes.

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