Of all the tea cultivars that are unique to Taiwan, none is more precious and intriguing as the wild indigenous mountain tea bush also known as Shan Cha (山茶). If you think that centuries-old wild tea trees with 30 cm leaves can only be found in the forests of Yunnan (not to forget India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam), think again. You must add Taiwan to the list! This unique specimen is not only of great interest as a varietal tea, it is also important and revered as the father (or mother) plant to some of the most unique and distinctive tea hybrids of Taiwan. For example, it is from this unique wild strand that the Taiwan Research and Experiment Station (TRES) has successfully developed the now famous TRES-18 Red Jade black tea which has fueled the black tea revival on this island since the turn of this new century. Four distinct protected areas have been put in place in central, south and eastern Taiwan for the preservation of this national treasure. Of these four protected areas, the one that is reputed to make the best varietal tea happens to be just up in the eastern range close to Taiwan Tea Crafts’ base, in the Township of Yuchi of our Nantou County. Follow us as we climb the hills to hunt down specimens of these wild bushes and witness at the same time the transformation of a local economy brought about by the revival of black tea.

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