Potting Soil For Tea Plants

The best and fastest way to kill your Camellia sinensis tea plants is to use a potting soil that is formulated for bedding plants or vegetables.  The reason for this is that Camellia sinensis root systems like a soil that gives the roots a chance to breathe.  They will not tolerate soils that are compact with no air space.  This is common with bedding plant soils.

Peat moss is a powdery fine substance that when wet, holds water near the roots.  There are no avenues for the water to travel away from the plant roots. When you take a powdery fine substance, and add larger organic matter to it, water can get to the roots, but the larger pieces create voids in the soil structure where oxygen can be increased.

Tsubaki Tea Soil

We use a mixture of three different materials when we make our soil.  We use a very fine, ground aged pine bark.  The pieces are about 1/4 inch.  We add larger pieces of bark to the smaller mix.  The larger pieces are 3/4 to 1″.  Then we add peat moss.  A little is good, a lot is not.

You can often find these ingredients in a garden center especially if there is a tree industry, such as pines.  You could also visit a local growing nursery that makes their own bark-based soil mixes for shrubs or trees.

Use this soil mix for any containers.  Put rocks or other material in the bottom to keep the drain holes from clogging.  This mix is excellent for amending your garden soil.  

Our Soil Recipe 

1 gallon Soil Conditioner/Mulch (Finely ground bark less than 1/8” pieces)

1 gallon Mini Nuggets (Small bark pieces 1” or less)

1 Cup Peat moss (ground)

2 Tablespoons Dolomite Lime

 

 

Alternatives to making your own soil:

You could use a bark based potting soil with a small amount of peat.  Usually recommended for shrubs and trees.  Sometimes labeled as Garden soil.  Examine the ingredients.

 

 

 

Will the Real Green Tea Plant Stand Up?

People are always asking me for the same question – “Do you sell ‘green’ tea plants?”.  I have to snicker a little at the question, then I have to stop myself to realize that perhaps not everyone knows that all tea plants are green!!  Comical, but not the intended question, I’m sure.  I guess what most people are thinking is that green tea comes from a ‘green’ tea plant and black tea comes from a ‘black’ tea plant.  All true tea, regardless of type, comes from one species – Camellia sinensis.  But the question of Green vs black, does still have some merit.  To explain….

There are actually two types or classes of Camellia sinensis, that are traditionally related to specific types of tea.

Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is more known for producing smaller leaves and is commonly  known as Chinese Type Tea.  Chinese type tea is commonly bushy and maintained for short growing and harvesting.  It is used for all types of tea, green, black, oolong, etc.

Camellia sinensis var. assamica, is known for very large leaves and is often seen in tea producing countries as large growing trees as well as smaller bush forms. It is commonly associated with high quality black teas, but can produce other teas as well.

Within each of these types, you will find many varieties of tea – some with variable characteristics in growth habits, growth rates, flower production and leaf characteristics relating to the parent or ancestor of.  They are both classified as Camellia sinensis, but are different types.

So with that said, to summarize, there may be some plants that may be better suited for Green Tea or Black Tea, but there is not an actual “green” or “black” tea plant.

All camellia sinensis plants make Green, Black, or other teas.

All camellia sinensis plants make Green, Black, or other teas.

Black Tea is made from the same plant as Green Tea. It's how you process it that makes the difference.

Black Tea is made from the same plant as Green Tea. It’s how you process it that makes the difference.

The Importance Of Good Drainage

Tea Plants, like all other camellias, like to be moist but not wet.  They do not need to be dry, and they especially do not need to be wet. Tea is more sensitive to very wet conditions than most other species of camellias, and Tea Plants can’t survive if the conditions are very wet.

The easiest and most common way to kill Tea plants is to keep them too wet. Whether the Tea Plants are in the ground or in containers, if the soil retains too much water, your Tea Plants are going to die and die quickly. We can’t emphasize this fact enough. Tea likes to be moist at all times, but the excessive water needs to be able to drain away from the root system immediately.

Tea Plants grow on the side of mountains and hills in many parts of the world. Think of rain on the side of a mountain. If the soil contains good organic material, moister from the rain will be retained in the soil, while the excessive rain water runs of the mountain side. This is the ideal condition for growing Tea, but most of us don’t have mountains sides for planting Tea.

A good rule to follow is to always plant Tea in the ground on raised plantings. If you build up the soil into a small slightly raised hill with good organic material added to the soil, you can plant your Tea Plants on the top of these raised plantings. This will insure that the excessive water always runs away from the roots. At the same time, the organic components of the soil will retain constant moisture for your plants.

The problem with too wet soils for Tea is even more dangerous if you put your Tea Plants in containers or pots. Many people kill their Tea plants by planting them in the wrong planting soil in containers. There are many great potting soils sold today at garden centers including nationally advertised brands that are great for most plants. The problem is that most of these commercial potting soils have too much peat most in the soil for Tea Plants. This excessive peat moss holds too much water and the Tea Plants stay to wet. When this happens, the Tea Plants placed in these containers in this type of soil will die quickly. Don’t kill your Tea Plant. Always think about good drainage whether your Tea is growing in a container or in the ground.

planting diagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Flowering Tea Plants

Camellia sinensis Tea Flowers

Camellia sinensis Flowers

Flowering Tea Plants tend to bloom late summer to early fall and and slightly fragrant.  They do attract bees so “bee-ware”.   Camellia sinensis Tea Plants are evergreen plants that can fit nicely into any landscape.  The are the ultimate landscape shrub whether you make tea or not!

Tea Plants can grow in climate zones 7, 8 and 9 with little or no problems.  In colder zones, tea can be grown all year in containers, outdoors in warmer, non freezing weather during spring, summer and early fall but indoors during winter.     Since their growing and harvesting season is Spring, Summer and Fall, and their dormant season is winter, this makes them the ideal plant for almost any location.

 

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Beautiful Tea Blossoms

Old Savannah Tea Flowers

Old Savannah Tea™ Flowers

One plant –two uses!

Camellia sinensis is not just for tea. It is a wonderful addition to any garden because of it’s “camellia family” characteristics. Much unlike most of it’s famous camellia cousins, Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua, Camellia sinensis flowers are small, simple and some are even slightly fragrant. Late summer sprays of blossoms adorn the evergreen plants in colors of white or pink depending on the variety. The many diverse leaf textures and plant sizes all offer something special to your garden as even without blooms, the plants are very attractive.

Camellia sinensis is an evergreen ornamental shrub that is easy to maintain, can tolerate a wide climate range. The many types of sinensis cultivars available can vary in growth habits and sizes, so they can fit into a wide range of locations.

Growing Season

Camellia sinensis has an active growing season that begins in late April or early May and extends through September in climate zones 8.   In colder zones like 6 and 7, the growing season could be shorter and in warmer zones like 9 and 10,  it could be longer.

Blooming Season – reproductive stage

Camellia sinensis that are grown for tea are plucked or pruned on a regular basis during the plant’s growing season.   This constant plucking keeps the plant constrained and makes it difficult for it to enter the reproductive phase, which is setting flower buds and producing seeds. If you do not constant pluck that leaves the plant will begin to develop flower buds which will open during the late summer to early fall.   The flowers will be pollinated either by bees, or the wind and with a certainty that they will develop seeds the following summer.  The seeds can be harvested, planted and will more than likely grow into brand new tea plants. The flowers do not play a part in producing tea.

Madison Tea™

Madison Tea™ with Pink flowers

Camellia sinensis Tea Flowers

Camellia sinensis Tea Flowers

Juliette Tea™ with pink flowers

Juliette Tea™ with pink flowers

 

 

Summer Harvesting of Tea Plants

Grow Your Own Tea with Camellia sinensis and Tsubaki Tea

Fresh Green Leaves picked, ready for processing

Summer Harvest of Tea Plants

Summer in Georgia is harsh for most things, but for camellia sinensis tea plants, which love the sun and heat, it is ideal.  With temperatures soaring in the upper 90’s, the tea plants are growing like weeds and we are getting harvest every 10-12 days.  Even though rainfall has been off and on for the last few months, with drip irrigation, the plants are getting what they need.  We are applying organic fertilizer every 3-4 weeks and they are doing well.

Basic Tea Recipes

Steamed Green Tea Leaves

Steamed Green Tea Leaves

Making tea is an art, one that professional tee masters take years to  perfect.  But making your own tea from Camellia sinensis is easy!  You may not be a profession tea master, and the tea you produce may not be of trade quality, but you certainly can come up with a beverage that you will enjoy and that you know is free from insecticides, chemicals and that is healthy for you and your family.

There are three main Principal methods of processing tea made from the leaves of camellia sinensis.

Tea is only made from the soft new green growth from the tips of branches of Camellia sinensis tea plants, not from any other camellia.  Leaves are only harvested when the plant is large enough and old enough to support harvesting.  Leaves are only taken from plants during the active growing season and never from the older, harder leaves.  Usually this is from spring to late summer or early fall.

TEA PLANTS

Start with established plants that are well branched.  3-4 year old plants are ideal.  Your plants should be 24-30” tall with multiple branches.

Well branched tea plants are a must when getting the most out of harvesting your tea plants.     Grow and make your own tea with Camellia sinensis Tea Plants       herb-creek-tea-2015-04-24-07.43.05.jpg

 GREEN TEA

Green tea is made from Camellia sinensis. Steamed and dried leaves. Fresh leaves are picked from the new growth of Camellia sinensis.  They are then bruised and allowed to wilt in the sunlight or in warm air. They are then rolled, twisted and bruised.  Firing or heating the leaves at this point results in Green Tea.

Tender young growth is picked by hand from Camellia sinensis. Young shoots with 2 – 3 leaves are recommended. Any surface water on the leaves and shoots is allowed to dry in the shade for up to a few hours.

In preparing green tea, the oxidizing enzymes are killed by steaming the freshly plucked leaf in a vegetable steamer on your stove for less than one minute, or by roasting in a hot pan (cast-iron skillet) for a few minutes. This process is called “sha-qing” (killing out) in Chinese.

The leaves are finally dried in an oven set at 200ºF for 5 minutes.  This step is necessary to remove any moisture in the leaf so it won’t mold and it stops any fermentation.

You may add dried Jasmine, dried blackberry leaf or other fine tasting leaf teas to this tea to give it a fruity flavor.  

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OOLONG TEA

Oolong Tea is made from partially fermented Camellia sinensis leaves. This method is to allow tea to oxidize only partially so that some of the fresh flavors of green tea and some of the deeper flavors of black tea are combined Firing at this point results in oolong tea.

The freshly plucked shoots from Camellia sinensis are spread out thinly over a table on a mat or a towel. The shoots are wilted under the sun or for 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the temperature.

The leaves are then taken indoors, where they are left to wither at room temperature for a 4-5 hours. During this period the leaves are gently agitated by hand every hour.  Take the leaves and roll them between your hands, crushing and bruising.   This process causes the edge of the leaf to tum red, and the moisture content drops about 20%. These controlled actions cause the chemical reactions and enzymatic processes in the leaf, which in turn produce the unique aroma and colors found in oolong teas.

After withering, the leaves are then dried in an oven set at 200º Fahrenheit for about minutes. This stops the enzymatic process.

oolong-teacup.jpg

 

BLACK TEA

Black Tea is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have been fermented then dried Leaves that are allowed to sit for longer periods of time after being rolled, twisted and bruised will tum black due to oxidation. Oxidation darkens the color of the leaves but also allows them to develop new flavor compounds commonly known as tannins. Firing stops the process and black tea results.

Tender young growth is picked by hand from Camellia sinensis. Young shoots with 2 – 3 leaves are recommended. Any surface water on the leaves and shoots is allowed to dry on racks for 10 to 20 hours and its purpose is to bring down the internal moisture of the leaf to somewhere between 60% and 70% of the original moisture.

The leaves are bruised to allow the fermentation process to begin. Several shoots are rolled between your hands or crushed until the leaves darken and become crinkled. This process is repeated until all the leaves are bruised until they turn a bright copper penny color.  This needs to be done about every hour for about 4-5 hours.

The leaves are allowed to ferment by placing thin layers of leaves on a tray in a shady location or indoors. After 2-3 days the leaves are ready for drying.

The leaves are dried in an oven set at 200º F for about 5 minutes. This step is necessary to remove all the water in the leaves and to stop the fermentation process. It also seals in the flavor.

Now the tea is ready to use or store in an airtight container.

 

With TeaPlantsTogo.com and Camellia sinensis Tea plants you can grow your own green,black, or oolong tea

 

Tea Tips:

Remember that tea is an art, and it will take some time to perfect your own tea.  Practice, make notes, take pictures and try different things.  What you come up with will surprise you! 

Only the soft new growth from plants that are actively growing will provide you with tea.  Do not harvest older leaves, they will not produce tea that is drinkable.  Also, make sure your plant is well branched and has a large number of leaves.  Removing all of the leaves off the plant can damage or kill your plant. 

Flowers of sinensis are not generally used for making tea, but I have heard of people drying the flowers of sinensis to use in their blends.  There is nothing wrong with it and you can try it and see if it makes a difference.

Tea – The Next Great Plant for Landscape Gardens

Old Savannah Tea Flowers

Old Savannah Tea™ Flowers

Camellia sinensis Tea Plant

For 1000’s of years, gardeners all over the world have been growing and enjoying Tea. The Tea Plant is the common name for this incredible plant, but its botanical name is Camellia sinensis. That’s right, this incredible plant is a member of the camellia family. Just like their ornamental cousins, Camellia sinensis plants are native to Asia. There are over 250 species of Camellia in the world, but Camellia sinensis is the only one that is widely grown for Tea.

Every day, millions of people in the world have their early morning cup of Tea. In the southern United States, “Sweet Tea” is a main stay at most restaurants. In fact, after water, Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. Somehow, it seems strange that this drink we all love is made from the leaves of a camellia, but it is true.

Cultivars of Camellia sinensis contain caffeine, while the others do not. Caffeine is a naturally occurring compound that is found in a wide variety of plants, including the coffee plant and the Cacao plant. It is a desirable stimulant that wards off sleep and restores alertness and refreshment. Because of this, Camellia sinensis has been used for centuries as a calming, refreshing beverage. Legend has it that thousands of years ago, a Chinese monk , tired and weary from his long day at work, decided to make a pot of soup. As the water boiled, some leaves from the Camellia tree above fell into his pot and he tasted the brew and was instantly refreshed. Thus, the legend of Tea was born!

Camellia sinensis is not just one plant. It has many thousand cultivars or varieties. Each of these varieties bear similar characteristics with one another. As with other camellia species, there are many characteristics within the sinensis species that differ from one another. You will find large and small foliage sizes and textures. Also growth rates and habits can vary from upright growing varieties with large leaves to small compact dwarf-like plants with very small leaves. Like all camellia species, Camellia sinesnsis cultivars have flowers, usually very small and range from pure white to a blush pink with large yellow stamens. They normally bloom anywhere from late summer to early fall.

Camellia sinesnsis is grown for commercial tea production all over the world. But you don’t have to have a tea plantation to produce your own home grown tea. All you need are a few plants, the right environment, a little practice, and in no time at all, you’ll be brewing tea from your own plants. Plants you grow at home can provide you and your family with a beverage that is organically grown and free of pesticides and GMOs.

Although Camellia sinesnsis is predominantly grown for tea, it is not limited to that. The sheer density, evergreen leaves and blooming characteristics of Camellia sinensis cultivars are quite attractive for any garden, patio or container plant. The larger growing varieties would be well suited for a hedge or screen. Most cultivars are hardy to around 20ºF.

Camellia sinensis plants will grow in just about the same locations that their ornamental cousins grow in the south. These plants are also excellent for use in container gardening. The one very important growing requirement of Tea is extremely good drainage. They want to be moist at all times but not wet, so avoid use of soils containing heavy amounts of peat moss. This is especially important in container gardening. These plants benefit from slightly raised plantings in the garden where all excess water can drain away from the root system.

Whether you want to grow your own Tea or simply want to enjoy another different camellia for its ornamental value, Tea is the next great plant for southern gardens. Our Tea selections demonstrate the incredible diversity of this amazing plant. We are certain that southern gardeners will fall in love with this unique addition to the garden!

 

Camellia sinensis Tea Plant Camellia sinensis Tea Plant

Camellia sinensis Tea Plant

GMO Free Tea Plants

GMO FREEThe acronym GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, which refers to any food product that has been altered at the gene level. Genetically modified foods are also frequently described as “genetically engineered”, “genetically altered” or “genetically manipulated.”

In today’s world, you never know what has happened to your food before it gets to you.  There is huge concern that by genetically altering the food we eat can cause damage to our bodies.

We are proud to say that the Tsubaki Teaplants have not been genetically altered in any way.  They are as pure as tea can be!

The Incredible Tea Plant

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

Every day, millions of people have their morning cup of tea. But did you know that his popular beverage is made from the leaves of a Camellia?

Camellia sinesnsis is one of over 250 known species of the genus camellia. Camellias are evergreen shrubs that flower in the USA during the fall and winter months for the most part. They are native to China, Japan and Southeast Asia but have found their way to all parts of the world where they have been thriving and blooming for centuries. There are many types, or species of camellia. Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua are the most popular of the blooming camellia species and are famous for their bountiful fall and winter blooms that adorn our gardens in milder climates.Camellia sinensis,often called The Tea Plant, is the oldest known camellia species but is the only one that is widely grown for tea for one special reason.

Cultivars of Camellia sinensis contain caffeine, while the others do not. Caffeine is a naturally occurring compound that is found in a wide variety of plants, including the coffee plant and the Cacao plant. It is a desirable stimulant that wards off sleep and restores alertness and refreshment. Because of this,Camellia sinensis has been used for centuries as a calming, refreshing beverage. Legend has it that thousands of years ago, a Chinese monk , tired and weary from his long day at work, decided to make a pot of soup. As the water boiled, some leaves from the Camellia tree above fell into his pot and he tasted the brew and was instantly refreshed. Thus, the legend of Tea was born!

Camellia sinensis is not just one plant. It has many thousand cultivars or varieties. Each of these varieties bear similar characteristics with one another. As with other camellia species, there are many characteristics within the sinensis species that differ from one another. You will find large and small foliage sizes and textures. Also growth rates and habits can vary from upright growing varieties with large leaves to small compact dwarf-like plants with very small leaves. Like all camellia species, Camellia sinesnsis cultivars have flowers, usually very small and range from pure white to a blush pink with large yellow stamens. They normally bloom anywhere from late summer to early fall.

Although Camellia sinesnsis is predominantly grown for tea, it is not limited to that. The sheer density, evergreen leaves and blooming characteristics of Camellia sinensis cultivars are quite attractive for any garden, patio or container plant. The larger growing varieties would be well suited for a hedge or screen. Most cultivars are hardy to around 20ºF . Imagine a plant that can take the place of a Viburnum or Ligustrum that is also perfect for edible

The blossoms are not used in the tea production and are rarely allowed to flower if used primarily for tea production. On their own, the plants are quite attractive in the landscape when they are in full bloom as sustainable suburban and city landscapes!

There is also a movement to promote tea as a viable agricultural crop in the southern warmer climates. In the future you may see more widespread agricultural use as we begin to depend more and more on products we can produce here in the USA.many white to pink flowers bloom in clusters up and down the stems. They produce viable leaves for tea harvesting during the active growing season. In zone 8 that can be from April-September. Other climate zones may be longer or shorter depending on the weather.

green-tea-cup.jpg