Camellia sinensis are the plants we have to thank for White, Green, Oolong, and Black teas. Though the leaves all come from the same plant, each unique flavor is achieved by harvesting specific leaves and processing them in different ways.
Tea is harvested throughout the growing season; as often as every 10 days. At this rate, a large plant can produce quite a bit of tea, but a hedge may be necessary to provide a family with their daily supply. The flavor and aroma of freshly processed and brewed tea far outshines that of it's prepackaged, store-bought counterparts. Think of it as you would a loaf of bread: best when it's fresh, okay when it's less so, and eventually just going stale.
Since planting our Tea Garden, we have made, sampled, and thoroughly enjoyed tea from many of these varieties.Though a professional tea-taster could likely point out the subtle differences between 'Dave's Fave' and 'Sochi', our own testing yielded similar results between plants when the same processing was used.
For more information on growing, picking, and processing tea, visit our sister site: Tea Flower Gardens
Seedlings vs. Cultivars
Our tea plants are started in two ways: a) open-pollinated seeds and b) rooted cuttings.
Some of our most popular plants are grown from open-pollinated seeds. Though Camellia sinensis is known to freely hybridize within the species, we use this method to start specific varieties because they reliably maintain the general characteristics of their seed-parent.
Certain plants, however, display a particularly outstanding genetic mutation or recessive trait. These varieties are cultivated, thus the term "cultivar", in order to preserve the rare or anomalous qualities. Cuttings are taken during the summer months, rooted, and are ready for sale and transplant the following spring. It's a long, painstaking process, but it's more than worthwhile!
Sizes and Pricing
Small ($20): 1- or 2-quart pot. Approx. 1 year old, 10" to 18" tall, single stem with only occasional branching.
Medium ($30): 1 gallon pot. Approx 2 years old, 18" to 30" tall, moderately branching.
Large ($65): 3 gallon pot. 3+ years old, 30" to 48" tall, well-developed branching with shoots ready for harvest.