Camellia Sinensis, commonly known as the Tea Plant, is the plant the drinking beverage tea is made from. Tea is made from the leaves of this shrub. Both black & green tea are made from this same plant – the difference is that black tea is fermented while green tea is not.
Thought to be originally native to China, the Tea Plant is cultivated commercially around the world today in tropical & sub-tropical locations. Tea Plants have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years, & tea is still one of the most consumed beverages worldwide today.
Tea leaves contain essential oils, antioxidants, vitamins & minerals, amino acids, enzymes, & caffeine. They have many traditional medicinal uses, as well as some more modern ones. Tea oil (different from tea tree oil) is also obtained by pressing the leaves is used for seasoning & cooking.
Tea Plants are considered to be a shrub to a small tree. They take to pruning well, & can be cut to desired shape & size. The plants areoften trimmed to 6’ or less to make harvesting easier, but they can grow to be much taller. The evergreen leaves measure 2 – 6” long & are a bright shiny green. It is the younger light green leaves that are typically harvested for making drinking tea, & can be picked every week or two.
This is wonderful, because you will always have a good fresh supply on hand, & these impressive plants can produce for over 100 years! The leaves are hand-picked, even in commercial operations, as not all of the leaves are harvested at once. While Tea Plants are only hardy to Zone 7, they can be grown in containers in cooler climates & brought indoors over the winter.
Tea Plants are also grown as an ornamental. They do have lovely foliage, & are worth growing for their flowers alone! The large showy blossoms measure 1 ½” across, & bloom in clusters of 2 - 4 creating a large display of beauty. The flowers are fragrant, & will attract bees & butterflies.
NAME: Tea Plant OTHER COMMON NAMES: Tea / Tea Shrub / Tea Tree SCIENTIFIC NAME: Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis COLOR: White with Yellow Centers PLANT SEEDS: Fall / Cold stratify / Outdoors after frost / Indoors weeks before last frost HARVEST: From Spring On / Year Round BLOOM TIME: Spring - Year Round HARDINESS ZONE: 7 - 11 PLANT HEIGHT: 4 - 6' PLANT SPACING: 4 - 6' LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Sun - Part Shade SOIL & WATER PREFERENCES: Average