To be honest with you, before I started drinking tea the word cultivar wasn’t one that I had come across before as I am not that in to gardening or plants in general.
Well that was until I fell in love with tea and in doing so the Camellia Sinensis plant.
According to Wikipedia a cultivar is “a plant or grouping of plants selected for desirable characteristics that can be maintained by propagation.” But if like I did, you have no idea what that means then let’s do some investigating.
Before we begin if any information you read here is wrong PLEASE PLEASE do correct me. I am not and will never be an expert on this topic and I love to learn so please comment or email me with any corrections you have.
We are going to focus on the Camellia Sinensis as this is the plant from where tea comes from and then going further into this we will focus on Chinese Tea cultivars.
So going back to the Wikipedia definition of cultivars we know that plants are chosen for an aspect of them that is beneficial to the grower. For example, a tea cultivar might be chosen for its broad leaf or smooth edges. Tea cultivars are even chosen for their unique flavours meaning that tea farmers can pick and choose the exact tastes and appearances of the teas they want to sell.
Looking into Camellia Sinensis a bit more -
- Family: Theaceae
- Genus: Camellia
- Species: Camellia Sinensis
Here are some examples of Chinese tea cultivars grown at the Zhejiang University Tea Research Institute in Hangzhou. You can see the tea name, taxon and the variety of tea that can be produced from it.
Jinfeng tea - C. sinensis cv.a Jinfeng - Black, green
Meizhan tea - C. sinensis cv. Meizhan - Oolong, green, black
Longjing 43 tea - C. sinensis cv. Longjing 43 - Green
Zhenghe dabai tea - C. sinensis cv. Zhenghe-dabaicha - Black, green
Yingshuang tea - C. sinensis cv. Yingshuang - Black, green
Maoxie tea - C. sinensis cv. Maoxie - Oolong, green, black
Jiukengzhong tea - C. sinensis cv. Jiukengzhong - Green
Biyun tea - C. sinensis cv. Biyun – Green
So normally any Longjing cultivar would be used only to make the famous Long Jing Dragonwell Green tea. However, not wanting to conform at LuLin Teas we have a black tea that has been produced using a Longjing cultivar, we call it Black Longjing and it is really amazing.
Another famous cultivar is that of White Peony (also known as Bai Mu Tan). One cultivar is from Eastern Fujian while the other is used in North Fujian. Fuding Dai Bai, the cultivar used in Eastern Fujian is the one from which our White Peony is grown. Although Zhenghe Dai Bai also produces amazing white tea.
The great thing about having Single Estate tea is that it will come from the same cultivar and so you know that the taste and shapes of the leaves will be uniform giving us the confidence to know that every cup you make using LuLin Teas Single Estate range is going to be great.
An example of a fascinating way that cultivation has been used in tea production in China we can look at an Oolong tree from Anxi, said to be the first Oolong tree and from which cuttings are taken to plant and grow new Oolong trees but always maintaining the original leaf.
Like I said, a lot of this information is new to me. I normally judge my tea on its taste and not on its cultivar or origins of its cultivar so please do correct any mistakes I have made. It’s great to be alble to share our tea knowledge with each other.
Thanks for reading.