How to grow tea at home
The freshest tea you can get is that you grow yourself, of course. The taste difference between old, store bought tea and fresh tea you have picked yourself is phenomenal !
Bloom of the Camellia Sinensis . Tea plants bloom in the autumn.Tea plants also make great houseplants.
Isn't it hard to grow tea ? Doesn't it take years to grow ?
You'd be surprised how easy it is . This is the secret the tea companies don't want you to know . You don't need a large garden to grow your own tea, a planter will work as well .
A more detailed USDA clickable Hardiness zone map
European Hardiness zone map
China Hardiness zone map
South American Hardiness zone map
Australian Hardiness zone map
The tea shrub, Camellia sinensis , grows well up to the zone 8 hardiness zone ( America for example Atlanta, Georgia Seattle, Washington Washington, D.C., England, Wales and Scotland, and parts of central Ireland ) White tea, green tea, oolong and black tea are all harvested from this species, but are processed differently to attain different levels of oxidation.The tea shrub gets 5-10 ft tall .Tea plants bloom in the autumn with fragrant blooms .Tea plants need plenty of moisture. They do best in climates that are a bit humid . Seedlings and young tea plants should be shaded . Mature plants produce best in full sun. Moisture: Tea plants need plenty of moisture. Tea shurbs can be propagated by planting cuttings and grafting . Teas are grown from seed as well. White tea, green tea, oolong and black tea are all harvested from this species, but are processed differently to attain different levels of oxidation.They can also be grown as a house plant.
The name sinensis means Chinese in Latin. The plant is a small shrub about 3 to six feet in height. On tea plantations the shrub is trimmed to waist height .It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that is usually trimmed to below six feet when cultivated for its leaves. Normally a tea bush is kept at a height of 4 feet. If left unpruned, it would grow to become a tree thirty or more feet in height.It has a strong taproot. The flowers are yellow-white, 2.5 cm in diameter, with 7 to 8 petals. Grow tea plants in well-drained and acidic sandy soil. If you grow your tea in a container, add something to the soil that will help keep it moist .You'll need some patience, too. Your plant should be around 3 years old before you start picking leaves. The young, light green leaves are preferably harvested for tea production; they have short white hairs on the underside.From your plant, you can make black, green or oolong tea. Fresh leaves contain about 4% caffeine. Different leaf ages produce differing tea qualities, since their chemical compositions are different. Tea plants will grow into a tree if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking.
Tea is invariably raised from seed, in China, collected in the fall after the last crop has been gathered and placed in sand to keep them fresh during the winter months, and sown the following spring in nurseries. In sowing the seed from six to eight are put in pots about an inch below the surface, usually four feet apart, and covered with rice-husks or parched earth.In growing, many of the seeds prove abortive, scarcely one in five germinating.
When the nurslings have attained a height of from four to six inches they are transplanted to the beds of the gardens in which they are to grow four to five feet apart. The plants are never manured in China, nor does it appear to be customary to prepare the ground for their reception, it being claimed by many authorities that manure, while it increases the yield, invariably spoils the flavor of the tea. Chinese growers in general asserting that teas produced without the aid of manure are always the most fragrant and aromatic. Until they have attained a height of about 18 inches, the weeds are pulled regu- larly, not raked, and the leading shoots pinched to induce them to become numerous and bushy.
There is a close analogy between the tea plantations of China and the vineyards of France, the quality of the tea varying according to the situation of the sites, the nature of the soil and their exposure to climatic changes.There are three regular pickings in the course of a year.
The first known as the Shon-cheun or " Early spring," occurring about the middle of April or begin- ning of May, according to the district, the product of which is termed Taou-cha or " head tea," a very supe- rior kind, consisting of the youngest, tenderest, and most delicate leaves and leaf-buds just expanding. The quantity obtained from this picking is limited in quantity but simply superb in quality, the very finest teas known to commerce, being prepared from them. The leaves are selected with the greatest care and picked with the utmost caution, such pains being taken to insure its excellence that for weeks before the harvest commencesthe packers, who have been previously trained are pro- hibited from eating fish or other food considered unclean, lest by their breath they should contaminate the leaves, being also compelled to bathe two or three times daily in the picking season, as well as wear gloves during the operation.
The six golden tips for making the perfect cuppa, as well as countless other handy hints (never store your tea next to cheese, for example). There's an assessment of the pros and cons of various teapots and words of wisdom about the tea bush itself.
The second picking, called Er-chuen or " Second spring," takes place between the end of May and begin- ning of June, when the branches are literally covered with leaves, and yielding what is known in China as Tzu- cha or " filial tea," from the fact of its producing the largest quantity, constituting the most important crop of the season and forming the principal one exported, but being greatly inferior to the first in point of quality.
The San-chuen, or " third crop," is gathered in July when the shrubs are searched for leaves, and the product converted into what is termed Wu-kua-cha or "tea without aroma," and though still more inferior to the preceding ones in quality and quantity, is nevertheless an important one commercially, forming the bulk of that exported as well as for blending with and reducing the cost of the preceding crop.
Varieties of Tea
The most volume comes from the Assam variety (sometimes called C. sinensis var. assamica or C. assamica), predominantly grown in the Assam region. It is a small tree (single stemmed) with large leaves. In the wild it reaches a height of 6 to 20 meters (20–65 feet) and is native to north-east India, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, and south China. In tea estates it is kept trimmed to just above waist level. A lowland plant, it requires a high rainfall but good drainage. It does not tolerate extreme temperatures. Discovered in 1823 (though used earlier by local people in their brews), it is one of the two original tea plants. All Assam teas and most Ceylon teas are from this plant.
The Chinese plant (sometimes called C. sinensis var. sinensis) is a small-leaved bush with multiple stems that reaches a height of some 3 meters. It is native to south-east China. The first tea plant to be discovered, recorded and used to produce tea three thousand years ago, it yields some of the most popular teas.
wikipedia on tea
gardenersnet on growing tea
photos of tea plantaions in Hangzhou
1862 article on growing tea in India
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