Sinensis and Assamica?

For general/other topics related to tea.


Jan 9th, '14, 21:14
Posts: 98
Joined: Oct 14th, '10

Re: Sinensis and Assamica?

by mbanu » Jan 9th, '14, 21:14

umijoshi wrote:This is the 4th or 5th time recently that Japan has been mentioned as an example of a country that usually lists the cultivars used in their end products. Is this mainly a Japanese specific practice or do other countries do it as well?
Japan does it because it is easy. The Japanese tea industry is almost entirely based on clonal tea, and only uses a few cultivars for everything.

As of 2010, 77% of all tea grown in Japan is from the Yabukita cultivar, for instance.

Typical cultivar information is like this : http://www.tocklai.net/activities/tea-c ... es-clones/

Name, yield notes, but not really much on flavor.
Last edited by mbanu on Jan 9th, '14, 22:01, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Jan 9th, '14, 21:44
Posts: 5863
Joined: Jan 10th, '10
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact: debunix

Re: Sinensis and Assamica?

by debunix » Jan 9th, '14, 21:44

umijoshi wrote:This is the 4th or 5th time recently that Japan has been mentioned as an example of a country that usually lists the cultivars used in their end products. Is this mainly a Japanese specific practice or do other countries do it as well?
I often see mentions of cultivars in the descriptions of teas I get from Norbu--for Taiwanese teas especially, but also occasionally for mainland teas, primarily when the tea is made from a new/modern cultivar.

Jan 9th, '14, 22:47
Posts: 31
Joined: Jan 7th, '14

Re: Sinensis and Assamica?

by umijoshi » Jan 9th, '14, 22:47

mbanu wrote:
umijoshi wrote:This is the 4th or 5th time recently that Japan has been mentioned as an example of a country that usually lists the cultivars used in their end products. Is this mainly a Japanese specific practice or do other countries do it as well?
Japan does it because it is easy. The Japanese tea industry is almost entirely based on clonal tea, and only uses a few cultivars for everything.

As of 2010, 77% of all tea grown in Japan is from the Yabukita cultivar, for instance.

Typical cultivar information is like this : http://www.tocklai.net/activities/tea-c ... es-clones/

Name, yield notes, but not really much on flavor.
At least there's some indication of quality, however reliable the source is. What one might take away from this is in Darjeeling (for example) assuming the same care is taken from garden to garden, this Bannockburn 157 cultivar stands out to be of better quality than the others.

Possibly the Asatsuyu of Darjeeling!

Jan 10th, '14, 06:43
Posts: 98
Joined: Oct 14th, '10

Re: Sinensis and Assamica?

by mbanu » Jan 10th, '14, 06:43

umijoshi wrote:What one might take away from this is in Darjeeling (for example) assuming the same care is taken from garden to garden, this Bannockburn 157 cultivar stands out to be of better quality than the others.

Possibly the Asatsuyu of Darjeeling!
If you're curious about Bannockburn, keep an eye out for the Spring flush. :) The Bannockburn Estate is part of the Chamong group of estates. I don't know what the #157 clone is used for on the estate, though. You could try emailing Chamong -- supposedly the manager in charge of Bannockburn is a fellow named Rajesh Singh; they or he might have more info.

User avatar
Jan 10th, '14, 13:19
Posts: 319
Joined: Sep 8th, '12
Scrolling: scrolling

Re: Sinensis and Assamica?

by Devoted135 » Jan 10th, '14, 13:19

umijoshi wrote:
eyvind wrote: This isn't exactly true- subspecies sinensis carries the name because it was the type specimen.
Explain it like I'm 5? :D
The term "type specimen" is actually something that I've only recently come across myself, and is important when defining new species. So, as an example, when a new Genus species of beetle is discovered the ecologist must provide a specific list of characteristics that in themselves can be used to identify a beetle as this or not this. Also, one "perfect" specimen must be chosen as the representative and will remain the reference point (in a museum) essentially forever.

The case of elephants is really interesting because the taxonomists of the time only had access to (I believe) Indian elephants, so it's gotten somewhat tricky nowadays with African elephants in the mix.

It seems that a similar case has happened in that Camellia sinensis: sinensis was used as the type species and only later was Camellia sinensis: assamica discovered and named.

Of course, eyvind appears to be way more knowledgeable in this field than I am and will hopefully correct anything I've misrepresented here. :)

Jan 10th, '14, 13:57
Posts: 31
Joined: Jan 7th, '14

Re: Sinensis and Assamica?

by umijoshi » Jan 10th, '14, 13:57

I sort of overshot the point I was trying to make, glad I did, but I'll backtrack a bit to close that up.

If we're comparing to grapes, and the comparable statement was made that 'all wines come from the same grapes' it's simply nonsense. Even if there was no such thing as c.s. v. Assamica, the cultivars of c.s. v. Sinensis are different enough (like grapes are) to have different characteristics and therefor names. To say 'all tea comes from the same plants' is a pretty big generalization.

A more accurate statement to use would be again using wine as a reference
Like Vitis Vinifera for wines, what we know as tea today comes from Camellia Sinensis. Variations of Camellia Sinensis exist (mainly the variation Assamica from India) and those variations branch off further at a local level, which can be cloned and reproduced for consistency, quality, and yields.
Does that sound alright?

+ Post Reply