While teatime was a cherished childhood ritual with my Grandma growing up, it was the sensory experience of walking through row upon row of fragrant tea plants on a tea estate that solidified my love of tea from field to cup.
Perhaps, like me you've been exploring the tea world through books, trying a new type of tea from time to time or reading up online? And just maybe you've been wondering, dreaming of growing your own tea and blending it into the perfect brew?
This is my story and I've also come to learn that it is many of yours. So together let's begin our weekly blog series, The Signature Joy Of Tea. In March and April we will be welcoming beauty and grace into our days through the culture and hospitality of tea. Empowering you to live the life of your tea dreams.
Camellia sinensis, or the tea plant is a type of evergreen shrub native to Asia. Its leaves and buds are used to produce the beverage we call tea. If you have never had the opportunity to see a tea plant in real life, perhaps you have seen its beautiful flowering cousin, the camellia bush (Camellia japonica) used in landscaping? They look quite similar in appearance ~ but, not in taste!
In order to study and learn about plants, Botanists (plant scientists) have created a system for classifying (or organizing) plants. Here is the scientific classification of the tea plant:
There are 3 main varieties of tea plants:
1. Camellia sinensis sinensis is native to China and thrives in cool temperatures and high elevations. It is commonly grown on mountain slopes. This variety is thought to be the most ancient variety used in tea cultivation. Its productive life is relatively long and can last well over 100 years.
2. Camellis sinensis assamica was discovered by Scottish Major Robert Bruce in Assam, India. It is suited to a tropical climate, being grown mainly on plains and in regions with abundant rainfall. Its productive life is shorter and lasts no longer than 40 to 50 years.
3. Camellia sinensis cambodiensis is known as the java bush. While it is not used to make tea, it is commonly used crossbred plant cultivars.
Interested in exploring more about Camellia sinensis and touring a tea plantation yourself? Here are some of my favorite resources:
Tea Plantation Tours:
Fairhope Tea Plantation (Alabama)
Big Island Tea (Hawaii)
Mauna Kea (Hawaii)
Onomea Tea (Hawaii)
Table Rock Tea (South Carolina)
Charleston Tea Plantation (South Carolina)
Gracefully Yours Fine Tea Company (Washington)
Live Tea Plant Retailers:
Tea Plant Seed Retailers: