I took a picture before brewing. You can easily differentiate the two by simply looking at dry leaves. Color of lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin dry leaves is green. That of heavily roasted Tie Guan Yin, on the other hand, is much darker – more of a brownish color. Dry leave aroma of the two are also quite different. While smell of lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin dry leaves is soft and floral, that of heavily roasted Tie Guan Yin dry leaves is heavy and roasty.
I brewed up the two and slowly sipped them down... The lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin filled my mouth with soft, long lasting orchid aroma infusion after infusion. It was refreshing, buttery, and sweet. The heavily roasted Tie Guan Yin offered more complex taste. At first, it was this mouth full of orchid aroma with a honey undertone, then a nutty aroma arisen from back of my mouth...It was thick, mellow, smooth with vivid long lasting sweet aftertaste.
Lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin started in the early 90s when Taiwan tea manufactures first entered mainland. It quickly gained popularity in mainland due to its pleasant aroma. Because lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin has some green tea characteristics, it has shorter shelf life and requires fridge storage . Heavily roasted Tie Guan Yin, on the other hand, remains seasoned tea drinkers' favorite because of its complex taste. It has longer shelf life and can be stored in room temperature. Unlike lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin, heavily roasted Tie Guan Yin does not hurt stomach. After several years' retreat, heavily roasted Tie Guan Yin is coming back to reclaim its market.