Like other yuhinas, it is closely related to the white-eyes and if these were considered a distinct family Zosteropidae, it would be placed there. Otherwise, it would belong together with the white-eyes into the Old World babbler family Timaliidae. The closest living relative of this species appears to be the black-chinned yuhina, which occurs on the Asian mainland.
The Taiwan yuhina is 12–13 cm (4.7–5.1 in) in length with a chocolate brown crest and a black beard stripe descending from its beak. The bird's back, wings and tail are dark ash brown, and its lower breast is lighter in colour. Agreeing with other typical yuhinas in habitus, its colouration pattern is rather uncommon among the genus.
This species is found in hill forests at elevations of 1,000–3,200 m (3,300–10,500 ft) above sea level, although it is the most common between 1,500–2,500 m (4,900–8,200 ft); it can descent to low altitudes in winter. It is gregarious, active and quite tame. It keeps to lower forest and often joins other species, especially tits in mixed flocks. The flocks, while feeding, make a constant soft chatter. The call of the Taiwan yuhina is a sound somewhat like twi-MI-chiu, which resembles the phrase "We MEET you". The yuhina's diet consists of mainly nectar, berries, flowers and small insects. Taiwan yuhina may sometimes be observed hanging upside down on cherry trees. These songbirds are particularly fond of the flowers of the Chinese tulip tree and the fruits of trees of the family Elaeagnaceae and the genus Idesia (Salicaceae).
Based on a population in Nantou County, diet during the breeding season mostly consists of nectar and fruits of Taiwan cherry (Prunus campanulata), fruits of eastern debregeasia (Debregeasia orientalis), and nectar of mistletoe Taxillus lonicerifolius.
Breeding season for the Taiwan yuhina is from May to June.