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What is a varietal?

The word varietal is one that is often misused in the tea world (and also in the wine world). It is often erroneously used interchangeably with the word variety. Here’s the correct definition:

Varietal (adj) – a varietal tea is one that was made from a single variety of Camellia sinensis.

Correct usage: Tieguanyin is a varietal tea made from the ‘Tieguanyin’ cultivar (remember cultivar means “cultivated variety“) of Camellia sinensis.

Incorrect usage: Tieguanyin is made from the Tieguanyin varietal of Camellia sinensis.