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Development of Taiwanese Tea

More than 200 years ago, some tea seedlings from Fujian Province in continental China were delivered to Taiwan. It was the beginning of the tea culture in Taiwan.

During the Qing dynasty, different tea cultivars were imported from the Fujian area and cultivated in northern Taiwan. During his first visit to Taiwan in 1860 to observe Taiwan’s camphor industry, British merchant John Dodd discovered the overseas Taiwanese tea market. The tea he exported to New York became a surprise hit, making Taiwanese tea famous internationally and attracting other exporters to Taiwan. Thus began the prosperity of Taiwanese tea’s industry and its role as a major industry in northern Taiwan.

During the colonial period in Taiwan, the Japanese expanded Taiwanese tea farms and encouraged the cultivation of local cultivars including the four main varietals: Qingxing Oolong (green-hearted oolong), Qingxing Damo (Dapan), Daye Oolong (big-leaf oolong), Yingzhi Hongxing (hard-stemmed red-hearted). In addition, a tea research institute (TRES) was established to promote the cultivation and production of black tea.

In 1926, Japanese introduced Assam cultivar to Taiwan and experimented with its cultivation in Yuchih Township, Nantou County. The successful results gave birth to the now renowned Ruby #18 (Hongyu) black tea (Hongcha), specialty tea of Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County.

Mainland China was subject to trade embargoes during the 1950s and 1960s, and during this time Taiwanese tea growers and marketers focused on existing, well-known varietals. After the mainland's products became more widely available and the market for teas became more competitive, Taiwanese tea industry successfully changed its emphasis to produce specialty versions, especially of oolongs, which was practically synonymous with Taiwanese tea in the late 19th century.

The high quality of Taiwanese teas is due to several factors. The most important of these is the unique climate and geographical environment in Taiwan. Taiwan‘s island type climate is in subtropics zone (Tropic of Cancer), and the mountainous terrain provides ideal conditions for the growth of tea (天時-climate condition). High mountains, the cool, moist air slows its growth and boosts the absorption of fertilizer, and this in combination with fertile soil gives the unique properties of tea leaves (地利-geography condition), here it is - one of the best in the world. Taiwan has its own well-established traditions of tea processing, with TRES‘s assistance, became mature and adapted to local requirements (人和-people condition), which leads to Taiwanese teas be unique, unbeatable and no longer related to Chinese teas.

In the 1980s, the tea-drinking population and tea consumption increased greatly in Taiwan’s domestic market as its economy advanced. Coupled with the active promotion of tea culture, consumers began to place more emphasis on the art of tea and became selective about its quality. Consequently, the tea industry in Taiwan shifted its focus from export to internal consumption. It is the reason why the high-quality Taiwanese teas were not easy to find outside of Taiwan, and so many fake Taiwanese teas exist in the market in the meanwhile.

Nowadays, with TRES‘s assistance, the tea farmers create as many as varieties of tea to grow tea quantity for both domestic and overseas markets. The tea farmers are also encouraged to take tea competitions in order to improve Taiwanese teas' quality, which results in advancing how farmers plant teas and how producers produce teas, finally enhances tea quality as well. The commonly cultivated high-quality tea cultivars are Qingxing Oolong, Qingxing Damo (Dapan), TTES No.12 (Jinxuan), TTES No.13 (Tsuiyu) and Sijichun… etc.    

Taiwanese teas are regulated strictly in the usage of pesticide (457 items of pesticide residue are required to be inspected by our government.) and fertilizer under the supervision and inspection of FDA Taiwan.  For the issue of health and sustainable environment, Taiwanese tea farmers are willing to comply with the regulations under FDA Taiwan. Teas grown in Taiwan and shipped from Taiwan are orthodox and extremely safe for consumption. Normally we don't discard the first pour (rinse tea) while we're drinking Taiwanese teas unless it's a need to wake up the tightly rolled tea. However, it's all depending on your habit of drinking teas. 

Edited by Adm./Fong Mong Tea Corp, all rights reserved.