FAQS

These are some of the most common questions people ask!

What are Tea Plants??

Tea plants are evergreen plants that are members of the Camellia family.  The plant species used for tea production is Camellia sinensis.

Can any camellia produce tea?

No, only the leaves of Camellia sinensis are used for making tea as they contain caffeine.  The other more common species do not.

Where can I grow tea?

Tea from Camellia sinensis can be grown in most mild regions of the USA and around the world.  In the USA, they do best in climate zones 7-8-9.

How many plants do I need to produce tea?

That depends on how much you want to make.  If you have a small family and only drink tea occasionally, then 1-2 mature plants should be fine.  If you have a larger family or want to produce more tea, then start with 10-12 plants and increase as plants as needed.

When do I harvest tea? 

You only want to harvest the soft tender green growth when the plant is actively growing.  Plants in the USA usually go into a dormant period in Fall-Winter.  So harvesting in zones 7-8-9 would be anywhere from March-September depending on your climate.

Why do I want to have bushy plants?

You are harvesting tea from the tips of plants.  So you want to have as many tips as possible.  The bushier the plant, the more tea you can harvest.

How do I make my plants bushy?

The best way is to start with pruning your plant just before spring growth.  Pruning your plant each year to aboue 2-3′ tall will encourage the plant to put on lots of shoots.  When you begin harvesting tea, do it on a regular basis – every 10-12 days as new growth emerges.  This will continue the “bushy” formation of your plants.

How big will my tea plants get?

Your tea plants, if left alone with no pruning, can get upwards of 10-12 feet tall.     For optimal tea production, we suggest keeping your plant to 2-3 feet tall.

Are the flowers used for tea production?

No the flowers are not normally used in the production of tea.

How do I start to grow my own tea? 

The easiest way is to start with Tsubaki Tea Plants!  We produce exceptional quality tea plants that will give you a great start to growing your own tea.

What are the purpose of the flowers?

Plants go to flower as a way of reproduction.  Flowers that are pollinated will usually form seed pods.  When ripe, the seeds fall to the ground and seedlings soon emerge.  Seedlings are genetically different from the mother plant.

Can I use potting soil to grow my camellias in containers?

Be very careful of using a general purpose potting soil with Tea plants.  Usually these soils are formulated for vegetables and bedding plants and are designed to hold water to keep your plants from drying out.  Because of the components used in commercial potting mixes, soils are usually very compact leaving very little air space for your roots to breathe.  Tea Plants like to have a soil that has good drainage and good oxygen.  We use a finely ground aged pine bark mix that has some moisture retention, but the water drains away from the roots instead of compacting the soil.

Where can I get a container mix?

We would suggest starting with your local nursery that may grow their own shrubs.  They usually have a soil that works well or Azaleas or Camellias.  You can also try Miracle Grow Garden Soil for Shrubs and Trees.  This contains a lot of “forest” components,  ground up matter such as sticks, twigs, and compost.  The larger pieces in this mix allows for water to flow around the roots and not muck it up.

What types of plants do I need to grow green, black or oolong tea?

All tea is made from the same plant – Camellia sinensis.  It’s not the plant that determines what tea you get, but the way you make it.  It’s like potatoes.  French fries, mashed potatoes, and potato chips are all made from potatoes.  But it’s the way they are processed that makes them what they turn out to be.

What is the difference between Green, Black and Oolong teas?

Green Tea – fresh leaves are not allowed to oxidize, or to ferment. Leaves are not bruised.   It’s the purest and simplest to make.  Caffeine content is the lowest in green tea.

Oolong Tea – leaves are allowed to partially oxidize, or ferment.  Twisting, cutting and bruising of the leaves produces a light coppery color and mild taste.   Slightly higher caffeine content compared to green tea.

Black Tea – Leaves are allowed to fully oxidize or ferment.  Twisting, cutting and brusing of the leaves produces a heavy bodied tea with nice aroma and rich deep earthy taste.  Caffeine content is highest in black teas.

How long before I can harvest my own tea leaves?

Any leaves you harvest need to be soft green growth, never the older harder growth.  You can process the leaves from any size plant.  Smaller plants will only produce a few leaves.  The bushier and older the plant gets, the more tea leaves it will produce.