Tsubaki Camellias Inc is a breeder-grower of ornamental flowering Camellias and Camellia sinensis Tea Plants. We have been growing Camellias for over 60 years in our family owned and operated business in Savannah, Georgia.
We began growing Camellia sinensis Tea Plants in 2007 with a bucket of tea seeds from a good friend who was in the nursery business as well. He sent us 5000 tea seeds in a sealed 5 gallon bucket. So we did what every other camellia nursery person does, we planted them.
We thought that it would be nice to try to grow tea plants for making tea because that was the main use of the plant. But as they began to germinate and grow, we began to look at them carefully. We noticed that not only were they extremely fast growing, but there was many diverse characteristics in their growth habits, leaf textures and sizes and even flower colors. Since we had a background in landscape design and had experience using different types of plants to make a unique garden, we immediately saw that they could have a place in most any garden as an evergreen shrub.
The most exciting part about growing Camellia sinensis tea plants is that they are an evergreen shrub that can easily fit into today’s landscapes and gardens AND they can be used for making tea. The best of both worlds!
So what happened to those 5000 tea seeds? Most were grown and sold, but before we released them, we selected 40-50 varieties that showed great promise as an ornamental and as a tea producer. Those plants were put in our garden to evaluate for performance and some of them became the starting lineup of our Tsubaki Tea™ Collection.