Understanding Camellia sinensis (green tea)

semajeDecember 15, 2009

Can someone explain the basics of this plant to me? Such as propagation and anything else worth knowing. But what I'm mainly here to ask is.... I've read online that you can make black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and white tea all from this plant. First off is this true? Second, how is this possible? Does it depend on which leaves you pick and when you pick them? Thanks

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Yup! It's possible. See link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia - Tea Processing

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 4:12PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Other than white tea (which is harvested before the buds even open) it's not necessarily WHICH leaves, but how the leaves are processed afterwards. It's always the youngest of the leaves (the newest flush) that are used.

Camellia sinensis can't be grown in all locations around the country. Where do you live?

There's only one tea farm in the US, located just outside of Charleston, SC. That tea is harvested by a re-invented cotton harvester, which delivers a freshly cut batch of young leaves to the processing houses promptly and efficiently. It's a fascinating operation.

You wouldn't believe how good truly fresh tea is.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 4:54PM
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Check out this thread - and also others to be found by using the Search facility.

Here is a link that might be useful: Camellia sinensis

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 5:03PM
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Ok thanks everyone. I see that you usually pick the smallest ad youngest leaves. But then what of full grown leaves? Do you let any of them get big? How much leaves can you pick before it
gets bad for the plant?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 5:28PM
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It is only the new, tip leaves which are used. The older leaves just make the plant look nice! That's not to say you can't use them, but it's not usual.

It's a rule of thumb with most plants that you shouldn't take more than one-third of total growth at any one time, then allow the plant to regenerate before harvesting/pruning again.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 7:31PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The 1/3 rule won't work with the harvest of camellia leaves for tea. You'll only be using the uppermost two or three leaves (from each branch) at any given time. Since the pinching off of these leaves will stimulate new growth, you'll be able to harvest another flush of growth in a few weeks (during the active growing season).

I have NO idea how much (in volume or weight) of a harvest you'd need to make a single cup of tea. By the time the leaves are dried and processed, you aren't left with what looks like much from that particular harvest. I also don't remember how many times per season the leaves can be harvested. (I've only visited the tea plantation twice.) Much of that would depend upon the time of year, general climate, vigor of the plant, and the quality of the growing conditions.

The older leaves would be extremely bitter and vile tasting as tea. Besides, those leaves are the energy generators for your plant. Without a lush complement of mature green leaves, your Camellia wouldn't be able to continue on to produce new growth over and over again.

Also, if you remove the leaves or branch sections from older parts of the plant, you'll reduce the amount of energy that will be devoted solely to the production of new leaves at the tips of the branches.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 12:40PM
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Terminal sprouts with 2-3 leaves are usually hand-plucked, usually every 7-15 days, depending on the development of the tender shoots. Leaves that are slow in development always make a better flavoured product.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 5:23PM
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alright thanks

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 9:31PM
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