Hybrid tea leaves
December 09, 2021

Top 3 Taiwan Tea Hybrid Cultivars | Eco-Cha Teas


Eco-Farmed Four Seasons Spring Tea Farm

Eco-Farmed Four Seasons Spring Tea Garden

Taiwan's Tea Research and Extension Station has produced dozens of hybrid tea cultivars. But there are three hybrid cultivars created in Taiwan which are by far the most popular. These are Jin Xuan (Tai Cha #12), Tsui Yu (Tai Cha #13), and Four Seasons Spring. They all appeared on the scene during the 1980's, and continue to be the most popular cultivars grown at low elevation (under 500m). 

Jin Xuan is the most prevalent of these three cultivars, and is commonly found all over Taiwan at elevations all the way up to 1000m or more. This cultivar was bred and promoted for its prolific leaf growth, hardy disease resistant character, and long growing season. It is suitable for making Oolong and Baozhong, as well as Hong Oolong and Black Tea. When made as a minimally oxidized Oolong, it is famous for its creamy, buttery, and milky qualities.

Taiwan's Top Award Winning Competition Tea Player

Eco-Cha's award winning source of Jin Xuan and Tsui Yu Oolong

Tsui Yu was promoted in the industry together with Jin Xuan in the early eighties, and flourished through the nineties. But is was slowly replaced by Four Seasons Spring due to the fact that Tsui Yu is a less resilient strain that is also less prolific. This is somewhat unfortunate, as Tsui Yu is commonly considered to make superior tea. It has substance that rarely produces bitter or astringent notes, and it also does well with extensive roasting. It is known for its floral character, specifically referred to as "betel nut fragrance" — as betel nut flowers have a lovely and distinctive fragrance.

Taiwan's 3 most famous hybrid cultivars of tea leaves

Freshly picked leaves of Four Seasons Spring, Jin Xuan and Tsui Yu Hybrid Tea Cultivars

Four Seasons Spring was a naturally occurring mutation on a tea farm in northern Taiwan in 1981. A tea farmer noticed a select few of his trees continuing to produce leaves throughout the winter. He cloned these trees, and eventually cultivated them for sale. Since then, Four Seasons Spring has become the second most popular hybrid cultivar in Taiwan. It is an especially prolific cultivar that can endure both dry and cold climate conditions. For decades, it was mostly processed as a lightly oxidized, unroasted Oolong that offers a prominent floral profile. In recent years, our organic tea sources have found that it is also very suitable for making into GABA Oolong and Black Tea. Four Seasons Spring Tea can also endure extensive roasting with good results.

So we encourage you to become familiar with each of these hybrid cultivars to experience their unique characteristics that vary depending upon how the leaves are cured. And last but not at all least of the attributes of these cultivars is that almost all low elevation tea gardens are machine harvested. This means the the new leaf growth at the tips of the branches are trimmed with a hedge trimmer rather than picked by hand. This not only allows for ideal timing of the harvest, without having to schedule a hired team of pickers. It also reduces the production cost a great deal, which allows for a MUCH lower selling price! So we are able to source specialty teas with unique attributes at a fraction of the higher elevation hand-picked cousins!

Watch the tasting video below for the full scoop!


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