In the Shaxian province of Fujian, China, there was once an old stone temple that was in ruins. Inside the temple was a beautiful iron statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy.
Once upon a time there was a simple farmer who went to the temple to pray. He had gone many times to try to curry favor with the goddess as his region had been riddled with poverty and drought.
The farmer wanted his home and community to be prosperous. The farmer went to the temple every day to clean and clear the area of twigs, leaves and dust.
He lit incense because he thought the Goddess would enjoy it. He did this in the hope that the Goddess would take pity on his village and help restore prosperity.
One day, when the farmer entered into prayer, he discovered that the statue was alive. The farmer knelt down to pray.
“The key to your future lies just outside this temple. Nurture it tenderly; it will sustain you and yours for generations to come,” whispered the Goddess, her voice full of goodness.
It took the farmer several minutes to recover from the shock.
Was the Goddess really speaking to him?
He decided to take his chance, walked outside and found a dry, withered bush.
“You are a gift from Guanyin, I will treasure it,” said the farmer and cleaned up the area around the bush.
The farmer thus continued his daily pilgrimage.
He cleaned the temple, lit incense and watered the bush. He continued this ritual until the leaves of the shrub were healthy and thick. He discovered that the leaves mixed with hot water made a delicious tea.
He let the bush grow more before cutting off branches to give to others in the community. Soon the entire village had its own piece of the magic bush.
One day, while experimenting with the tea, the farmer dried the leaves until they turned coal black. The farmer thought that this tea reminded him of his Iron Goddess.
The experiment bore fruit as he created a tea even finer than he had ever tasted. He called this concoction Ti Kuan Yin, the tea of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
Another legend about the Iron Goddess
According to some legends, if you find a good Ti Kuan Yin then you will get the power to breathe fire!
One day, a mother sent a young man to buy Ti Kuan Yin tea. He had left his home just as the sun was rising so when he arrived at the first tea store he had to knock for several minutes before anyone answered.
The tea store owner who had just woken up gave the boy a cup of good Ti Kuan Yin. However, our boy did not spit fire, but only got very hungry.
He returned home to find that his mother had made him breakfast. After eating and resting a bit, our hero continued his search for the good Ti Kuan Yin. He went to another tea store, however, after consuming several cups of tea, he was still unable to spit fire. He was still hungry.
Bewildered, the boy returned home to tell his mother about his plight. His mother prepared his lunch and urged him to go to the next tea store. Once there, the boy drank a cup of Ti Kuan Yin.
After one sip, he burped and exclaimed:
“Ah, I found my good Ti Kuan Yin. Now I can breathe fire.”