The environment of Taiwan is ideal for growing tea. Many of tea varietals grown in Taiwan came from China just like ancestors of most Taiwan residents have. Some varietals adjust well and turn out to be popular and others gradually disappear. In the following article, I will briefly describe some of usual tea varietals in Taiwan.
Qingxin Oolong varietal
Qingxin Oolong is the most wide spreading and oldest varietal in the tea history of Taiwan. Depending on locations of tea plantations, Qingxin Oolong varietal grow differently. In the low altitude tea plantations, the tea leaves are thinner. In contrast, the tea leaves are thicker when planted in higher altitudes.
Qingxin Oolong tea trees are relatively weak and less productive. The varietal is mostly hand picked instead of machines due to potential damaging effects from machines. Teas made of Qingxin Oolong come with unique varietal fragrance enjoyed by numerous tea drinkers. Popularity makes the teas more expensive than other teas varietals.
Jinxuan varietal (Milk Oolong varietal)
Jinxuan varietal is also known as Taiwan Tea # 12 among Taiwan local tea lovers. It is a new varietal developed by tea researchers in Taiwan around 1985. The varietal is mostly grown at tea plantations located below 1600 meters above sea level.
Jinxuan tea trees are productive and solid. Most of the jinxuan varietals which are planted at high altitude mountain areas are hand-picked to produce first grade milk oolong tea. The varietal is also perfect to be harvested by machines without being damaged. It can be used to produce a variety of teas including Pouching tea, Baihao Oolong tea, Tikuanyin tea and Jinxuan oolong tea.
Cuiyu varietal (Jade Oolong varietal)
Similar to Jinxuan tea, Cuiyu varietal is a new varietal developed by tea researchers in Taiwan. Both varietals were announced around 1985. It is also known as Taiwan Tea # 13. Cuiyu varietal is mostly found at low altitude tea plantations.
Cuiyu varietal is similar to Jinxuan in terms of productivity and solidness. These varietals are perfect for machine harvesting. Jade oolong tea is oolong tea made with Cuiyu varietal. The tea gives off a jasmine fragrance with rich flavor.
Sijichun varietal (Four Season Oolong varietal)
Sijichun is a new varietal that appeared in the Taiwan tea market around 1990. Unlike Jinxuan and Cuiyu, the varietal was accidentally found on a tea plantation by local tea farmers in Muzha. Sijichun in Chinese means evergreen, which reflects the characteristic of the varietal solid, fast growing and productive. Mingjian tea region in Taiwan is currently the largest region that grows this type of tea leaves.
Tikuanyin varietal adjusts poorly to new environments and grows slowly. Muzha and Shimen are two major regions that grow tikuanyin varietals in Taiwan.
The process of making tikuanyin tea is much more complicated and takes longer than making others. Tikuanyin tea can be made with varientals like jinxuan and tikuanyins. However, only the tea that is made with tikuanyins varietal entitles zhengcong tikuanyin.
Baimaohou literally means “white fur monkey” in Chinese. The Oriental Beauty oolong tea made from this varietal has a dense amount of white buds on it; hence the meaning white fur monkey. Baimaohou varietal is extremely limited in quantity causing tea from the varietal to be very rare and expensive.
Damanzhong literally means “extremely slow” in Chinese. It is not difficult to guess that the varietal actually grows incredibly slow as its Chinese name reflects. Similar to baimaohou, Oriental Beauty oolong tea made from the varietal also carries a great amount of white buds. This varietal is mainly dedicated to producing first grade Oriental Beauty oolong.
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