What is TRES?
TRES is an acronym for Taiwan Research and Extension Station, and is a government-sponsored agency for all things tea-related in Taiwan. It’s an institution established to promote and develop Taiwanese Tea and arguably the most important contribution to the overall evolution of Taiwanese tea since its establishment in 1903.
The institute's main responsibilities are: the research and development within the Taiwanese tea industry, the improvement of tea cultivation and processing, and the overall tea education. It is an organization governed by the Council of Agriculture of Taiwan.
According to the Institute website, TRES focuses their research and development on these subjects:
- Cultivating tea cultivars through seed selection and grafting.
- Developing best practices for cultivation techniques and tea garden management
- Studying tea plant diseases and prevention
- Improving tea making techniques and technologies
- Developing diversified tea products
- Advancing machineries for tea cultivation and tea production
TRES / TTES History
The organization, formally named Tea Manufacture Experiment Station, was established in 1903 during the Japanese occupation (1895-1945). In 1945 the Japanese left Taiwan, and in 1968 the institute was renamed Taiwan Tea Experiment Station (TTES). In 2003 the name was again replaced, this time to the name we know today - Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES).
Under the Japanese occupation, TRES started to expand its tea cultivar portfolio. The results were 24 new tea cultivars (as of May 2020) including the famous Jinxuan or milk oolong released in the '80s. The expansion program also put emphasis on creating tea cultivars suited for black tea production in its early years. This was led by Japan's desire to tap into the black tea trade market with the western world, as well as diversifying its tea portfolio, steering Taiwan away from competing with Japanese green teas. The effort led to the Sun Moon Lake black tea, commonly referred to as Hong Yu or Red Jade released in the '90s.
After the Japanese left Taiwan in 1945 (end of World War II), the production of black tea declined due to lowered export demand. By the late 20th century, Taiwan turned its focus to oolong tea production in order to appeal to its domestic market, capitalizing on its rising social-economic status.
TTES is still a commonly used acronym to describe tea varietals certified by TRES.
TRES Certified Teas
Currently there are 24 certified teas cultivars (May, 2020).
The well-known ones are TTES no. 12, Jin Xuan or Milk Oolong, TTES no. 13 Tsui Yu, TTES no. 18 Hong Yu, Red Jade or Ruby, TTES no. 20 Ying Xiang and TTES no. 21 Hong Yun.
TRES website: https://www.tres.gov.tw/en/index.php