Taiwan's first native tea wakes after thousands of years of sleep

'Taitung Yongkang No. 1' believed to date back to Ice Age

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Taitung Yongkang No. 1 tea tree (Tea Research and Extension Station photo)

Taitung Yongkang No. 1 tea tree (Tea Research and Extension Station photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The first indigenous Taiwanese tea variety, which dates back to the Ice Age, has been named “Taitung Yongkang No. 1” (台東永康1號), as it was discovered in the eastern municipality of Taitung.

Formerly known as “Taiwan Tea No. 24” (台茶24號), the tea plant in June received official recognition as a variety only found in Taiwan, according to the Tea Research and Extension Station of the Council of Agriculture.

About 300 tea trees of the variety, believed to have originated in the mountainous region of Yanping Township (延平鄉) thousands of years ago, were discovered in 2000. The plants were brought back to the cultivation center and transformed into Taitung Yongkang No. 1 following 19 years of purification, wrote CNA.

The birth of the tea marks a milestone in the history of tea cultivation in Taiwan and also boasts great commercial potential. It has a unique flavor and exudes a smell likened to a mixture of mushrooms, almonds, and coffee. It also carries lower levels of caffeine and tastes less bitter compared with other teas, said the Tea Research and Extension Station.