These notes are maintained by
Ben Discoe (who also has a
- Botanically speaking, to simply a complex subject, there are only two
well-identified varieties of tea:
C. sinensis var. assamica (India) and C. sinensis var.
sinensis (China). All the other varieties in the world can be considered
combinations or derivatives of these two.
- In shape, the var. assamica has a wider leaf and grows into a full
tree, unlike the var. sinensis which stays a shrub.
- Commercial tea cultivars (clonal) are usually referred to by a short name,
like TV1 or STS108. Some of the well-known Chinese and Japanese cultivars
have fuller names like Chin-Shin Oolong or Yabukita.
- There are hundreds to thousands of cultivars. To give an idea, nine of
the major cultivars in Taiwan are "Chin-Shin Da
Pan, TTES No.12 (Chinhsuan), TTES No.13
(Tzuiyu), Si-Ji-Chun, Chin-Shin Oolong,
Chin-Shin Gan Zai, TTES No.7, TTES No.8 and TTES No.18".
- There have been several varieties of tea available as cuttings so far
through the Tea Society, from UH material. However, much Googling does not
product any full descriptions of what makes the varieties different:
- Yabukita - 313 hits, many of which are the place, not the tea.
ref - "Just one popular cultivar, 'Yabukita', currently accounts for 85%
of all clonal cultivars grown in Japan."
- It is apparently used strictly for sencha - green tea.
- "Yutaka Midori" (YM) - 6 hits
ref - "From Kagoshima prefecture located at the southern
tip of Japan. An exceptionally 'green' green tea."
- Benikaori - only 26 hits, not obviously about tea (does it mean
- Bohea has too many hits because Thea bohea is an older
scientific name for
C. sinensis. (Is "bohea" even a real variety name?)
- Chin Sun Oolong (CSO) - 0 hits. But "Chin Shin
Oolong" has about 500, the great majority being sites selling it. CSO is
associated with Taiwan, but interestingly, much of the CSO for sale online
is promoted from
Thailand, even organically grown! Chinese characters are:
青心烏龍 ('blue-green/young'? heart black dragon). There are some
scientific pages in the Google hits, but i didn't find anything about
- There is a brief paragraph about each cultivar in the CTAHR publication.
I have summarized it in this table:
Vigorous, good resistance to anthracnose,
easy to propagate, grown for oolong at high elevations, or black tea at
||Slightly drier areas and elevations above
1500 ft. Elongated, serrated leaves, long internodes, relatively easy
||Gentle, mild, sweet flavor. Suitable
above 1500 ft. and relatively dry. Relatively easy to propagate.
|'Chin Shin Oolong'
||From Taiwan, used for oolong and paochong
- Takahiro wrote a short
article about Yabukita on the HTS website.
- Summary: About 85-90% of Japanese green tea comes from Yabukita and it is
a good hardy tea variety. It achieves quite good flavor in Japan. There
are other Japanese varieties like Yutaka Midori, which has better reputation
in Japan, considered harder to grown there, for reasons such as it does not
like frost. Since that isn't an issue in Hawai'i, it illustrates how a
cultivar's reputation is only one of the factors to consider when choosing
which tea to grow.
- October 2006 blog entry
Benikaori cuttings, Takahiro gives a little insight into that cultivar:
‘Benikaori’ was developed as a cultivar that could be grown in Japan and
made into good black tea for export.
- Wikipedia says
Pouchong is "the lightest and most floral Oolong, originally grown in
Fujian it is now widely cultivated and produced in Taiwan.", "a very lightly
oxidized tea somewhere between green tea and what is usually considered
Healthy Kung-Fu Tea site has pictures and descriptions of
- 青心烏龍 - chin shin oolong
青心大有 - chin shin da you, "young heart big have"
軟枝烏龍 - "soft stemmed" oolong
鐵觀音 - te kuan yin, iron goddess
台茶十二號 - Taiwan #12
台茶＋三號 - Taiwan #13
武夷 - "Wu Yi"? (scenic area in Fujian province)
阿薩姆 - Assam (phonetic "ah sah muu")
- Beware machine translation which can render "chin shin oolong" as "youth
- In HTS communications, it says 'Dr. Cam Muir,
Assistant Professor of Biology (Conservation Genetics specialty) at the UH at
Hilo and Co-Owner of Big Island Tea, has led to a breeding program for Big
Island Tea, involving several Asian strains, that has resulted in selection
of a new strain of tea, /Kilinoensis/, which is adapted to growing in