Tea

Does anyone here grow tea? I was thinking the other night that I know of no one who does...Guess I'll have to research the issue, but it could be kinda fun...
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Like the original poster I am interested in growing tea, as in the tree or shrub that yields the leaves for common tea. I am not finding any local sources for tea trees/ shrubs, but think they should grow in growth zone 7/8 if they grow in similar parts of China. Anybody with any information out there?
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By "common tea" I assume you mean the black tea leaves one puts in a teapot and then pour water on.
If you mean that, then it is actually fermented and is called (IIRC) 'black tea'.
Tea leaves which you would harvest from a garden camellia plant and dry for home use actually end up as what we in the west would call 'green tea'. These two teas just come from common old camellia sinensis which has relatively small and insignificant flowers nad it is also a reasonably common plant so shouldn't be too hard to find.
IIRC, if you want to make 'black tea', you have to first sweat the leaves and leave them for a reasonably short time to ferment and then dry them to end up with a product you'd use in your teapot.
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There are instructions for home processing of tea (Camellia sinensis) in Rosalind Creasy's book, Edible Landscaping. It is laborious, but it works, and makes great tea. (Same leaves but different process for black or green tea.)
You can mail-order plants from territorialseed.com, and undoubtedly others. A few years ago there was a mania for named cultivars, the idea being that different varieties would produce different tea, like wine and grapes. I think that may have died down by now.
There used to be a tea plantation in Charleston, SC. http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/2003-04-11-charleston-tea_x.htm Don't know what's happening with it now. I ordered some of their tea many years ago, and, I'm sorry to say, it was awful.
I have a couple of (unnamed) tea plants that have disappointed me with their floppy growth habit. I was hoping to use them as a screen, but they're the wrong shape. I think the common wisdom is that they like similar conditions to Camellia japonica, flowering camellias. Don't count on the flowers of C. sinensis for anything, though; they really are insignificant. (bloom in the fall)
HTH
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Hi- I just checked and saw I got some responses! Thanks for your input- I think it would be fun to try, along with making chocolate from the bean up! I guess I will check out some local nurseries-Thanks again!
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Tea comes from the a species of Camellia: Camellia sinensis. You will probably need to find a mail order source for plants.
Emilie
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