In the nursery industry plants can be grown from seeds, cuttings or grafts. Plants grown from seed is genetically different from any other plant and is called a cultivar or variety. A plant grown from a cutting is the exact duplicate, a clone, of the cultivar or variety in which it came from.
Tsubaki Tea Plants consist of both seedlings and clones. While most camellia sinensis tea plant seedlings show remarkable resemblance, there are some that produce highly desirable and distinguishable characteristics such as growth habit, leaf size and textures and even flower colors. We evaluate seedlings from our nursery and if we find a plant that shows diverse characteristics, we pull them aside, give them a unique name or number, and then we produce plants from, this variety by cuttings and the plants will be identical. Seedling tea plants that are not selected for cultivating are released for sale.
So which is best for you? Seedlings or named cultivars? If you are growing for your landscape garden or curb appeal, then varietal selection may mean something to you.
If you are growing for tea production, varietal selection may or may not be of importance to you.
- Choosing the same variety allows you to know the plants you are growing and to maintain them in the same way.
- Because some varieties may grow faster than others or may have a different growth habit may fit easier into your tea growing area. For example, if you are short on space, or if you are growing in Containers, there may be some varieties that may be a better fit.
- A lot of professional tea growers choose to plant different varieties in the unlikely event that there may arise varietal issues such as insects or diseases that may be limited to a particular variety. Although we have not seen these type of “varietal” related concerns, it is not to say that it couldn’t happen.
- Your climate and cultural needs should determine what varieties you should select for your tea making plants.
NOTE: Tea Taste or quality is not always determined by the varietal selection but with the processing techniques used.