Basically, “clonal” comes from the word “clone.” Clonal here refers to the procedures of controlled breeding of plants to produce the desired results. To precisely define, it means those plants consisting of a single leaf that has been promoted through cuttings.But this tea is rarely found in the tea industry due to the huge expenses. Cultivar on the other hand, includes single clone or plants produced through seed .Clonal tea shrubs are not grown from seeds but from cross-breed clones. These clones gets developed by research laboratories, much the same way many other plants that have commercial uses gets developed. They are bred consisting of specific qualities and are thus some of the most sought after teas, usually selling quickly despite higher prices.
Mostly, these clonals are those breed which flourish in hostile tea growing locations. The Duncans Tea Gardens of Darjeeling has drier weather climates ,higher temperatures lasting for about seven months of the year. Mostly, these clonals are breeds which sustains in disastrous tea growing locations. Once fallow, the land consists of 70% replantations with clonals an ability to produce over 4000 Kgs of clonal tea per hectare per year, double than the national average.
Darjeeling and Assam tea growing regions of India have clonal teas displaying a good standards of deep golden tips, which are creating more demand as tea specialists regards “golden tippy” teas as more preferable than those regular Darjeeling and Assam teas. Sri Lanka (anciently called Ceylon) has been producing clonal teas since several decades; in fact, their clonal tea shrubs are 30-40 years old and the percentage of hectares planted in clonal versus regular tea shrubs varies from 46.6% to 87%.
The Arya Estate in Darjeeling and the Mangalam Estate in Assam are popularly known for their clonal teas. The former produces green tea with a fruity scent. The latter produces black tea with a scent similar to freshly-baked bread.
The Nilgiri region of India also has estates, such as Quinshola, that produce clonals. In fact, the Quinshola Estate produces high quality Orthodox teas in demand not only from the locals but also from Russia to make Russian Orthodox tea (you don’t need a samovar to enjoy it).
The clonal teas from Kenya, China, Kenya are selectively picked and manually altered into refined clonal tea with firm shoots and twisted silver tips; the texture is golden with sugary taste. The Tea estate of Kenya has golden tippy, neatly twisted leaves which produces red-orange liquid that is flowery but booming without a tannin flavor.
Different tea clones have different caffeine levels. The tender leaves have a higher caffeine proportion when compared to the older tea leaves, and the twigs have a lower proportion. The procedure of plucking the leaves in proportion to the seasonal fluctuation makes a big difference in the caffeine levels.