Camellia Sinsensis, Green & Black Tea

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Posted by John Minton | Posted in Plants | Last Updated February 23, 2014

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Camellia Sinensis Tea Plant

Camellia Sinensis is one of the primary plants that we get (green and black) tea from. There are a few variations of tea plants but C. Sinensis is the “garden size” one growing to 6 feet tall, while other variations can grow in excess of 10 feet or more in the form of a tree. Camellia Sinensis ranges from shrub to bush and has fragrant white flowers with yellow centers. Camellia Sinensis likes full sun and moisture so don’t dry the soil out. It’s definitely a slow grower and it also has a dormant period in the Winter. When Spring comes around it will start to bud and grow new leaves at the top of the branches. These new growths are what we use to make tea. Camellia Sinensis will grow fruit containing seeds, if planted they will grow. If you plan on harvesting tea from plants grown from seed it can take 3 years or more to grow a plant big enough to harvest from.

I read that Camellia Sinensis likes PH 5-6, but because I don’t like to fertilize I just give it some new soil once a year and water it in. Camellia Sinensis grows into a bush, so it can easily be trimmed into a hedge or a number of other aesthetic uses while you are still able to get a harvest off of it each year.

Camellia Sinensis Tea Plant new growth

Camellia Sinensis tea plant, new growth

Baby leaves are harvested, cut, roasted, dried and fermented in different ways to produce different types and varieties of tea. Depending on where the Camellia Sinensis tea plant is grown it will produce varying flavor. The baby leaves contain 4% caffeine on average. There are six primary varieties of tea produced from the Camellia Sinensis tea plant, they are oolong tea, green tea, white tea, black tea, flowering tea, and my favorite pu’er tea.

The following instructions I found on the internet from varying sites, but I’ve changed them slightly according to the results I achieved. Making good tea is harder to do than it seams at first. I would highly recommend growing many plants and spending a good amount of time figuring out what you like, if you find success then next year you will be able to produce some AWESOME tea from your tea crop!

I will update this section from time to time, and I’ll add some pictures of my own tea crop this next season when I have some more tea plants growing.

Preparing Green Tea from Camellia Sinensis

  • Pluck the newly grown young leaves and leaf buds in early Spring.
  • Preheat your oven to 250°F.
  • Dry the leaves with a napkin or clothe and let the leaves dry in the shade for about 3 or 4 hours in the heat of the day.
  • Dice the leaves with a kitchen knife so they look more like your used to seeing prepared tea leaves.
  • Steam the leaves for about a minute, or for a different flavor roast them in a skillet for 2 minutes instead.
  • Spread the leaves out on a pan and dry in the oven at 250°F for 20 minutes.
  • Either store the leaves for later, or make a cup and taste test it!

Preparing Oolong Tea from Camellia Sinensis

  • Pluck the newly grown young leaves and leaf buds in early Spring.
  • Spread them out on a towel in the heat of the sun and let them dry  for about 45 minutes.
  • Bring your leaves inside and let them sit at room temperature for about 4 hours, mixing the leaves around every hour.
  • Preheat your oven to 250°F.
  • The edges of the leaves will start to turn red as they begin to dry.
  • Spread the leaves on a baking pan and dry in the oven at 250F for 20 minutes.
  • Either store the leaves for later, or make a cup and taste test it!

Preparing Black Tea from Camellia Sinensis

  • Pluck the very youngest leaves and leaf buds.
  • Roll the leaves between your hands or with a rolling pin and crush them until the leaves start to darken and turn red.
  • Spread them out on a tray, and leave them in a cool location for 2-3 days.
  • Spread the leaves on a baking pan and dry in the oven at 250F for 20 minutes.
  • Either store the leaves for later, or make a cup and taste test it!

Make your own tea

  • Also start with the very youngest leaves, leaf buds and stems.
  • (Some teas are made of mostly the steam from the plant!)
  • Cut your tea into small pieces, kind of dice it.
  • Experiment with drying, crushing, roasting, fermenting and flavoring your tea.
  • (Mix other flowers for unique flavors: Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Fruit flowers, Lemon Balm flowers, Rose flowers, Rose hips, Chamomile, etc)
  • Make sure your tea is dry before storing in an air tight container or you may get mold.

Why we have some fermented teas and how they came to be

Camellia Sinensis tea flower

Camellia Sinensis tea flower

Back when tea was first produced, the leaves would be harvested and loaded into the back of wagons in wooden boxes after being cut. The wagons would take long trips to deliver the tea to it’s destinations (where ever they may be). Along the way the tea would begin to ferment and give off a very pleasant aroma. When the tea was received at it’s destination it would have to be roasted and dried out to halt the fermentation process. You can ferment your own tea as well, but you have to be careful not to grow mold as this may ruin flavor.

The tea creation process has been closely guarded for many years, so you will have to experiment and find your own way to make the perfect cup of tea. If you have a tea garden then Camellia Sinensis is a must have!





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