Tea Plant Care: Learn About Tea Plants In The Garden
What Is A Tea Tree?
A tea tree (Camellia sinensis) is a flowering shrub or small tree native to Asia. Its leaves are used medicinally in some countries such as China and Japan, but it’s most popular use is in the United States where it’s called the “hippie weed” because of its medicinal properties.
The leaves of Camellia sinensis contain numerous compounds known as flavonoids, which have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer effects. They are thought to be responsible for many of the health benefits associated with tea consumption.
How To Prune A Tea Tree?
There are two ways to prune a tea tree: either cut off all branches at once or leave them intact. Cutting off all branches at once will result in a smaller plant, but leaves will still remain attached to the branch. Leaves will continue to produce new shoots until they fall over or die. If left intact, the tree may develop into a large bush that requires constant care.
You can choose one method or both methods depending on your needs. If you want a smaller tea plant that will provide you with tea on a regular basis, prune it back to create a bushy tree with multiple branches. For larger plants that fill out an area without needing constant maintenance, only cut off the newest shoots and leaves.
How To Prune A Tea Plant?
To prune a tea tree, find the new shoots at the tips of each branch. These are thin, green stems with small leaves on the ends. Cut them off at a 45 degree angle. You can cut off all of the shoots at once or wait until several shoots have grown and then cut them back. The latter is a good method if you want to harvest tea regularly from one particular shoot.
When you cut the shoots back, leave an inch or two of the stalk. New shoots will grow from these stalks and can be harvested in a similar manner in the future. When you cut off the stalks, place them in water. They can eventually be planted to create new tea plants.
After you’ve completed the process, the tree will begin to produce new shoots and leaves. These grow quickly and will be ready for harvest in about six weeks.
The number of shoots and leaves on each branch will vary depending on how you’ve pruned it. Each branch will develop about seven new shoots, and each shoot can have between six and nine leaves. The shoots start out as a dark red color before they turn green.
How To Grow A Tea Tree?
You can grow a tea tree from seed, but it takes several years for the plant to grow large enough to harvest. It’s best to buy a young tea tree (at least two years old) and allow it to grow to the desired size before pruning it back or harvesting its leaves. Look for a nursery that sells Camellia sinensis, or you can collect seeds from existing tea plants.
Once you’ve selected a plant, place it in a sunny location and water it regularly. To ensure the deepest, darkest green tea leaves, provide the plant with rich soil and a moderate amount of water. Keep the area around the plant weed free to prevent competition for nutrients. You should prune the leaves when they are dry to prevent the spread of disease and fungus.
Harvesting Tea From A Plant
Harvesting tea from an established tea tree is simple. Find healthy leaves on several different branches and cut them off at the stem. You can then dry and process them for use in brewing a fresh cup of tea.
How To Dry & Process Tea Leaves
Pick the leaves once they are dry and place them on a baking sheet. Bake the leaves in an oven that is set to 180 degrees for half an hour to ensure they are completely dry. This prevents the growth of mold and other undesirable elements.
Place dried tea leaves in jars or keep them in bags. Keep them in a dark, dry location away from moisture and heat. You can then grind them up or leave them in leaf form for use in brewing a fresh pot of tea.
How To Grow A Tea Plant In A Garden
Tea plants don’t grow well in small containers, so you’ll need to plant it in your yard or garden. The soil should be rich and well drained. The ideal location has full sun all day long. Pick a spot that is protected from strong winds.
You can plant the seed or a small plant in early spring once the weather is warm. Space plants three feet apart (providing there is enough room for them to grow). Water the plants when the soil is dry and provide fertilizer when you water. The plants will grow quickly.
Wait until the second year of growth to prune them back severely, then wait until the third year to harvest. Pick a few leaves here and there over the years to keep the plant producing new growth.
Harvesting tea from your garden is a fun activity to do with your friends or family. Cut the leaves off at the stem and place them in a bag. You can then dry and process them for use in brewing a fresh pot of tea.
Sources & references used in this article:
Tea: A Text Book of Tea Planting and Manufacture… with Some Account of the Laws Affecting Labour in Tea Gardens in Assam and Elsewhere by D Crole – 1897 – books.google.com
Use of agricultural by‐products to study the pH effects in an acid tea garden soil by N Wang, JY Li, RK Xu – Soil use and management, 2009 – Wiley Online Library
British science, Chinese skill and Assam tea: Making empire’s garden by J Sharma – The Indian Economic & Social History Review, 2006 – journals.sagepub.com
Bioavailability of soil‐extractable metals to tea plant by BCR sequential extraction procedure by WH Ukers – 1935 – Tea and coffee trade journal …
Breeding of the Tea Plant (Camellia sinensis) in India by Ş Tokalıoğlu, Ş Kartal – Instrumentation Science & Technology, 2004 – Taylor & Francis
Gathering “tea”–from necessity to connectedness with nature. Local knowledge about wild plant gathering in the Biosphere Reserve Grosses Walsertal … by ML Heiss, RJ Heiss – 2007 – Random House Digital, Inc.
Geographical and Climatic Dependencies of Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) Metabolites: A 1H NMR-Based Metabolomics Study by SC Das, S Das, M Hazarika – Global Tea Breeding, 2012 – Springer
Relationship between extractable metals in acid soils and metals taken up by tea plants by S Grasser, C Schunko, CR Vogl – Journal of ethnobiology and …, 2012 – Springer