Before we consider the details of growing tea, let’s talk about why you should even consider such an undertaking. Tea plants are surprisingly hardy As you become more experienced growing tea you can better predict the yield of leaf and then organize an expanding operation. The tea plant C. sinensis is a woody, long-lived shrub that may grow twenty to thirty feet tall if left unpruned (you will definitely prune your tea). In a separate article, I will guide you through the tools and methods you’ll need to use to put your tea plants into the ground. If by mid-day, however, the temperatures in your garden frequently hit the 90s, then your tea needs relief from the sun and heat. Ask them about the effects of heat, drought, and freeze on their camellias, and what measures they have adopted to mitigate these risks. The first consideration is the variation in the ambient temperature. As I said earlier, 50 inches of rainfall in a year is about the minimum that you’ll need for a strong stand of tea camellia. If there’s an established camellia-growers network in your area—be careful, these people are often fanatics!—then there’s a good chance that C. sinensis will flourish where you live. The same plant can be used to make green, oolong, or black tea. A soil test can also put the brakes on your gardening plans. Then 3 months of brutal heat, 105 or higher. There are two main varieties which require warmer growing zones: Camellia sinensis var. Though delightful beverages, the cultivation of “herbal teas” made from plants such as chamomile and peppermint will not be addressed here. If you are unfamiliar with the climate in your area, refer to the USDA plant hardiness zone map. Boggy soils are often dense with organic matter and tend to stay damp all year. After each harvest, you process leaf into delicious finished tea. Keep the soil moist but not saturated with light, frequent watering. Hi Sam, Before getting started with your tea garden, there are three guidelines to consider. When planting more than one sapling in the ground, leave a distance of 1.5 metres between the plants. Keep tea plants indoors where you can control the temperature in weather that is below 65 or above 85 degrees F and move them outside during the mild seasons. During the growing season, tea needs warmth but here, too, it has limits. Thanks!! There are six primary varieties of tea produced from the Camellia Sinensis tea plant, they are oolong tea , green tea , white tea , black tea , flowering tea , and my favorite pu’er tea . A temperature of 21°C during the growing season of not less than eight months is ideal. A spot with partial shade or dappled sunlight with some protection from nearby tree canopies is ideal, although a tea plant should be kept 10 to 15 feet away from trees and structures. Over the centuries of domestication, var. Originating in high and quite cold areas of the himalyas, Tea plants have actually been grown in the UK for hundreds of years. Soil science is accessible to anyone with DIY sensibilities. assamica from Assam, India, is a tropical plant suitable for USDA Zone 10b. Here’s a method to estimate the number of plants you can fit into your available garden space. In this scheme, two parallel rows of tea are laid out along the length of the bed with each row about twelve inches off the center of the bed. Camellia sinensis which makes the popular tea can be grown in Australia, commercially and at home. But there are several important questions to consider before you start digging up the earth. “Two and a bud” are used for green and black teas alike. Let’s summarize the five main factors you should consider before spending one penny on your tea garden. If you know that your available garden space was previously landscaped, then use caution. But if you want to scale up your tea garden then it might be less expensive to piece together lengths of irrigation tubing and fittings that you purchase in bulk. assamica, and their descendants, have been crossed and backcrossed countless times. Breaking up the dense clay with a soil ripper is a good idea. DW. Though the history and genetic ancestry of tea are disputed, it is generally accepted that there are two comprehensive varieties of tea nested within the C. sinensis species. Though not as fatal for your garden as extreme cold, extreme heat can be a serious problem as well. Because of its capacity to endure both cold and heat, most planted tea that you find in the US is likely to be a variant on the China type. If you are serious about becoming a tea grower, and you meet these basic criteria, then you will succeed! If you pay attention to CEC, you can save money on amendments and at the same time make your plants thrive. Depending on where the Camellia Sinensis tea plant is grown it will produce varying flavor. In contrast, tea does well in heavy clay soils but only so long as there is efficient movement of water out of the sub-soil layer into which tea puts down its long taproot. Six months is better. You may have despaired after reading my guidelines for climate and tea cultivation. CEC is vital to sound farming practice because it is an index of how much nutrients your soil can retain without being washed out and away from your garden. In the fall, your tea shrub will flower with small white blossoms that have a delightful scent. For example, I garden in zone 8b where an extreme cold snap is on average between 15° and 20°F. Would it be realistic to grow one tea plant in a container as a learning experience? The tea plant can handle a light frost and even snow, like the picture on the left, taken in Seattle, WA, but not heavy freezes or prolonged cold winters, and, unlike some plants, it does not require a period of cold dormancy. After following the climate-restriction guidelines that I listed above, you should know if your region is too cold or too dry to cultivate tea outdoors and in the ground. The other variety of tea has large leaves and is generally cultivated between Assam in eastern India to Yunnan province in southwestern China. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. If there’s any more than three pounds of leaf available, then it stays on the plant to be harvested the next day. Move the plants to a sheltered location or greenhouse during low winter temperatures. The lesson here is that tea camellia, especially the China type, can tolerate cold but it does need a break from freezing temperatures. I see vigorous growth in my tea garden when daytime high temperatures are between 78 and 90℉. It is generally considered cold hardy to USDA Zone 7-9, but it is limited as much by its moisture requirements. In its wild state, tea grows best in regions which enjoy a warm, humid climate with a rainfall measuring at least 100 centimetres a year. Tea won’t tolerate a deep freeze or hot, droughty conditions. An example of poorly drained soil occurs in bogs. Modern agriculture in general, and tea culture in particular, owe part of their success to solving soil-drainage issues. Suppose less rosy yields (e.g., one quarter-pound per plant per year) and less generous conversion if you want to be conservative in your predicted tea rewards. Ideally, it likes deep, light, acidic and well-drained soil. Camellia sinensis does fine in containers but definitely protect it from freezing temperatures and hot sun. There are two main varieties which require warmer growing zones: Camellia sinensis var. One is a variety of tea with small leaves that is originally from southern China and is designated “var. Just don’t be pessimistic; you will learn how to improve yield and conversion! By growing tea on a slope you may simultaneously solve the problems of standing water and poor sub-soil drainage. Today I’m going to outline the initial steps that you need to take in order to grow the tea plant Camellia sinensis. self-questionnaire as it is a how-to guide to starting a tea garden. However, late spring and early fall can be very dry, and it is during these periods when tea may experience severe stress, especially if plants are not yet established with deep roots. Future posts will have more detailed suggestions for working with tea seeds, bare-root transplants, and cuttings, respectively. Keep the tea seedlings between 65 and 72 degrees F while they are maturing. But for now, just keep in mind that the starting material can influence your gardening methods. Keep the seeds damp in an area where the temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees F. Indirect light or dappled shade is best; avoid full sunlight. Check with your local gardening club or garden professionals to find out if there are concerns over water chemistry. Tea seeds germinate in about four weeks. A soil test will indicate which nutrients you have available and also report the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of the soil. We also visited the Cutty Sark clipper ship that transported tea from Asia to London. All real teas—green, black, white, oolong, pu’er—are made from leaves of C. sinensis. The signs indicate where the tea is specifically from, i.e., “This tea is grown in the Szechuan region of China, must be hand-picked before sunrise, in the first week of June before the first full moon, but after an eclipse.” An exaggeration of course, but they are pretty specific! To determine if your area is suitable for cultivation of C. sinensis, apply the following rule, which summarizes the three criteria that I just outlined: If during an average day in the warm season you can stand within view of a thriving ornamental camellia, and at the same time find yourself looking for either a shade tree or a swimming pool, then your area has potential as a tea-growing location! They can be grown outside during the warmer months, but they’ll need a warmer home for the winter during the first two or three years. The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) grows in high altitude tropical climates and at low elevation in sub-tropical climates with mild year-round conditions. If soil drainage is a major concern, then consult with an agricultural engineer before you start gardening. Tea grows well on high land well drained soils having a good depth, acidic pH in the range 4.5 to 5.5 and more than 2% organic matter. 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