the worlds tea comes from this camellia species, grown mainly in
plantations in the highlands of tropical Asia but also in southern
China (its original home) and Japan, and more recently in various
other parts of the world where the climate is suitably mild and
humid. It normally makes a shrub of 6-10 ft (1.8-3 m) tall with
thin, serrated leaves and rather insignificant, white to cream with
a hint of lemon flowers about 1 in (25 mm) across borne on recurved
stalks from the leaf axils; when grown for tea the plants are kept
trimmed to about breast height and flowers are rarely seen.
Hardiness zone from 9 To 11
Cultivation: Most camellias grow best in mild, humid climates and
some species are very frost tender, but most of the cultivars are
moderately frost hardy. They prefer well-drained, slightly acid soil
enriched with organic matter and generally grow best in part-shade,
though some cultivars are quite sun hardy. Good drainage is
important to prevent phytophthora root rot, but they like to be kept
moist. There are many varieties suited to pot culture and camellias
make handsome tub specimens. Pruning is largely unnecessary, but
plants can be trimmed after flowering or cut back harder if
rejuvenation is required. Propagate from cuttings in late summer or
winter, or by grafting.
According to Chinese mythology, in 2737 BC the Chinese Emperor, Shen
Nung, scholar and herbalist, was sitting beneath a tree while his
servant boiled drinking water. A leaf from the tree dropped into the
water and Shen Nung decided to try the brew. The tree was a wild tea
The modern term "tea" derives from early Chinese dialect words -
such as Tchai, Cha and Tay .Known as Camellia Sinensis to Western
botanists, tea is an evergreen plant of the Camellia family.
The freshly gathered shoots are collected and a method of withering,
rolling fermenting and drying, produces the fine teas.
Black tea makes up 98 percent of the international tea trade and is
the familiar coloured tea, flavoured with a delicate aroma and
should be without any bitterness. Green tea does not go through the
fermenting process and the leaves are heated (roasted in an iron pan
or steamed) to prevent fermentation. It makes a pale greenish-yellow
tea, which is milder and slightly bitter.
The process of blending takes place after further professional
tasting. Usually a blend may be made up of different teas from
various tea gardens. The blenderÕs expertise guarantees consistency
- to ensure tea picked and packed throughout the year in different
seasonal conditions does not vary in quality, aroma or taste.
The tea color is a result of the chemical changes that occur to the
leaves when they are given time to oxidize, before drying, during
the manufacturing process. Tea leaves that have been given full time
to ferment become black tea. Oolong leaves are those that have been
given a shorter time to oxidize or semi-ferment. Tea leaves which
have been dried without being given time for oxidation or
fermentation remain green in color.
Tea easily absorbs moisture and odours and so it is essential that
it is kept in a cool dry place away from any strong smelling items.
It must be stored in an airtight container not exposed to light and
used within a reasonable time.
Today, the consumption of tea is just as important as the
consumption of drinking water. On average about 21Ú2 million metric
tons of tea are produced worldwide
India and China are the largest consumers of tea on the basis of
total leaf used, and this consumption is largely from internal
production. These countries are the largest producers of tea, as
The UK is the largest per-capita consumer of tea averaging about 3.5
to 4.0 cups per day.
Tea good for me?
¥ contains 1/3 less caffeine than coffee or cola
¥ helps reduce fatigue
¥ maintains mental alertness
¥ stabilizes fluid levels
¥ is fat free and calorie free
The antioxidant in tea help prevent . . . cancers of the mouth,
stomach, pancreas, lungs, esophagus, colon, breast and prostate.
Teas flavanoids prevent heart disease by
¥ reducing blood clotting
¥ lowering blood pressure
¥ lowering cholesterol