Harvest and Brew Tea Straight from Your Garden

I recently found out that I can actually grow tea in my own garden.  “Camellia Sinensis” or the green tea plant is a variety that is used to produce green tea,  oolong tea and black tea in China, India and some parts of Southeast Asia.  The plant is a native of China, but grows well in tropical and sub-tropical zones. I stumbled upon this plant when I was scouring through some medicinal plants for sale  at a  local garden store.   Gladly, I decided to buy one healthy plant for inclusion in my container garden collection.

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Here is a compilation of articles from the web which I find useful for growing camellia sinensis. 

How to Grow a Green Tea Plant

By Michele Wishhart   (An excerpt from the   https://www.hunker.com/)

Lovely Location

Choose a site for your tea plant that has protection from direct afternoon sun and strong winds. 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. If you’re planting multiple tea shrubs, space them 6 to 10 feet apart. Do not plant it in an area prone to flooding. A tea plant can grow up to 15 feet tall, so make sure you allow enough space for it. All pruning should be done in the spring after flowering.

Planting Prosperity

Select a healthy tea plant from the garden center that shows no signs of pests or diseases. Dig a large hole about 3 times the diameter of the root ball, planting the shrub at the same depth as it was in the container. After backfilling the hole with soil, water deeply to settle any air pockets. Tea plant prefers organically rich, fertile soil that drains well. Water frequently during dry periods to keep the soil moist, and mulch with 2 to 6 inches of organic material, such as bark or wood chips, keeping the mulch at least 8 inches from the shrub’s trunk. To minimize fungal infections, water at the base of the plant to keep the leaves dry.

Nutrient Needs

A tea plant can benefit greatly from regular fertilizer applications. Every other month throughout the growing season, feed the shrub with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. For every 10 square feet, thoroughly mix 1/3 ounce of liquid fertilizer with 1 gallon of water. Use a broadcast sprayer to the apply the fertilizer evenly to the soil, agitating it back and forth as you spray to keep the contents mixed. Avoid contact with your skin, and protect yourself by wearing long sleeves, pants and rubber gloves.

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Container Grown Tea: Tips On Growing Tea Plants In Pots

An excerpt from “Growing Tea at Home” By Amy Grant   (An excerpt from the https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ )

Container grown tea plants should be planted in a pot with plenty of drainage holes, that is 2 times the size of the root ball. Fill the bottom third of the pot with well-draining, acidic potting soil. Place the tea plant atop the soil and fill in around it with more soil, leaving the crown of the plant just above the soil.

Place the plant in an area with bright, indirect light and with temperatures about 70 F. (21 C.). Keep the plant well watered but do not allow the roots to become water logged. Water until the water runs out of the drainage holes. Allow the soil to drain and don’t let the container sit in water. Let the top few inches of soil dry between watering.

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Fertilize the container grown tea plant during its active growing season, from spring through fall. At this time, apply an acidic plant fertilizer every 3 weeks, diluted to half the strength according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prune the tea plant yearly after it blooms. Also remove any dead or damaged branches. To restrict the height of the plant and/or to facilitate new growth, prune the shrub back by about half its height.

If the roots begin to outgrow the container, repot the plant into a larger container or trim the roots to fit the pot. Repot as needed, usually every 2-4 years.

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Harvesting and Processing Tea Leaves

An excerpt from “Growing Tea At Home” by Sean Paajanen (https://www.thespruce.com/growing-tea-at-home-766090)

Growing tea is only half the battle. Once your tea plant is growing well, you’ll need to harvest and process your tea leaves. From your plant, you can make black, green or oolong tea.

Green Tea

  • Pluck the very youngest leaves and leaf buds.
  • Blot the leaves dry, and let dry in the shade for a few hours.
  • Steam the leaves (like you would vegetables) on your stove for about a minute.
  • For a different flavor, try roasting them in a skillet for 2 minutes instead of steaming.
  • Spread the leaves on a baking sheet and dry in the oven at 250F for 20 minutes.
  • Store the dried tea leaves in an air-tight container

Oolong Tea

  • Pluck the very youngest leaves and leaf buds.
  • Spread them out on a towel under the sun and let them wilt for about 45 minutes. This step is called withering.
  • Bring your leaves inside and let them sit at room temperature for a few hours.
  • Make sure to stir the leaves up every hour.
  • The edges of the leaves will start to turn red as they begin to dry.
  • Spread the leaves on a baking sheet and dry in the oven at 250F for 20 minutes.
  • Store the dried tea leaves in an air-tight container.

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Black Tea

  • Pluck the very youngest leaves and leaf buds.
  • Roll the leaves between your hands, and crush them until the leaves start to darken and turn red.
  • Spread them out on a tray, and leave them in a cool location for 2-3 days. (This is also withering.)
  • Dry them in the oven at 250F for about 20 minutes.
  • Store in an air-tight container.
 Happy gardening everyone!
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About Glo de Castro

The author is a lawyer and an executive in a leading real estate company in the Philippines. Urban gardening is one of her hobbies and passion. She created this website because she loves to write about her gardening experiences and share them with fellow gardeners. She also conducts seminars about urban gardening occasionally.

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