About Tea  »  the Tea Plant

the Tea Plant

All teas come from an evergreen shrub known as Camellia Sinensis. Whether it is a white, green, oolong, scented, or black tea, they are all produced from one tea plant. After a debate over whether or not the tea plant indigenous to the Yunnan province of China was the same as the tea plant found in the Assam region of India, the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature declared that they are both from the evergreen plant of the Camellia family.

There are a few differences between the tea plant grown in China and in India. The tea plant that flourishes in China, Camellia Sinensis, has leaves of approximately 2 inches in length, grows to a height of 15 feet, and has a long life span of a hundred years or more. It thrives primarily in China, Japan, Korea and Tibet. The tea plant from India, Camellia Assamica, tends to have longer leaves ranging from 6 to 14 inches in length, grows to a height of 60 feet, and has a shorter life span of approximately 50 years. It grows primarily in tropical climates, such as India, Sri Lanka and parts of Southeast Asia.

The Camellia Sinensis evergreen tea trees are pruned to bush sizes which encourag the growth of new leaves or flushes. The leaves are grown on the branches stemming from the stalks of the tea tree. The underside of the tender young tea leaves are covered with fine white hairs. As the tea leaves age, the underside hair disappears and becomes more leathery. The first sprouts of the season are called the first flush and the second sprouts, the second flush. A new tea plant must be at least five years of age before tea leaves are plucked from its stalks. It takes approximately four pounds of fresh tea leaves to produce one pound of parched tea.

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