I’m Growing My Own Tea!

I adore tea.  Black, White, Green or even Oolong.  Offer me a cup of tea and I will be your friend forever!

I enjoy drinking herbal teas also, but nothing can beat a cold glass of lemon balm leaves steeped in white tea on a hot summer day.  Ahhhhh  🙂

I thought I was doomed to continuously spending lots of money on my tea habit until I found out that I can actually grow my own tea plants.  Happy Dance!

Until a few months ago, I thought all tea plants were tropical!  Nope!  Shows how much I don’t know. In fact, a lot of tea plant varieties can withstand freezing temperatures down to 0 degrees and grow well in zones 7 – 9.  Seriously!

One Green World, Korean TeaThen I saw these Camilla Sinensus v. Sinensus (that’s the official name of a tea plant that comes from eastern and northern Asia. Camilla Sinensus Assamica comes from India and regions surrounding it) plants for sale on a website called One Green World, and I just couldn’t resist.  The Sochi variety and the Korean Mountain variety of tea can both withstand the coldest temperatures that we get here on our homestead, so that means I can grow tea!         Oh Joy!

So, I bought two tea plants, one Sochi and one Korean Mountain, and they arrived a few weeks ago.

How to grow camellia sinensus

This is how the tea plants arrived. They were so well packed that I don’t think any leaves were harmed! Thank you, One Green World, for sending me such beautiful plants!

Can you believe the size of these plants?  From root tip to leaf tip, about three feet tall!  I certainly wasn’t expecting them to look so good!  Now, I am not a spokesperson for this plant nursery, nor have I been compensated in any way for saying this.  I just think that when a business makes a happy customer, they should be commended.  Kudos!

Growing green tea

Here is how the tea plants came from the nursery.

The plants came in plastic pots, where they had to stay for a few days while I went into town to get some newer, larger ones.  I took them out of the box and set them upright, but kept the plastic sleeve over the pot so the roots wouldn’t dry out.

Because I want to plant these into the ground near our new home, for now they will have to live in pots until most of the building is done.  The plants like to get some sun and enjoy partial shade, but harsh summer afternoon sunshine is not their “cup of tea”.

Yes, I just said that.  😉

How I am growing camellia sinensus

Look at the root system of these plants – very well established. I just teased the roots a bit before planting in the new pots.

I can’t wait to harvest some tea and try it, but I am going to wait until the plants are better established in the pots.  They both have some new growth already, but it is still early and I would assume they have some shock to go through from shipping, so I am going to let the roots “steep” (holy cow, 🙂 I am on a roll) in their new soil for a while first. After a few weeks, once the spring temperatures are more stable, I will give them some of my homebrewed kelp fertilizer.

I did some research on how to grow the tea plants, and apparently these plants like a fairly acidic soil that well drained and can be kept moist, which is what we have. They also like to have part shade if your afternoons are hot, which is just the kind of conditions that my new elderberry plants wanted – so I may end up putting them next to the elderberry bushes.  Mmmmmmmm… elderberry green tea sweetened with stevia…

Speaking of my elderberry plants – they are already beginning to leaf out!

How to grow camellia sinensus v sinesus

The elderberries are starting to get leaves. This is a branch of one of the larger plants. All four plants did well through the winter, so I hope to harvest more elderberries this year and dry some just for my tea!

Once the tea plants are established, I will harvest some of the growth tips and try my hand at preparing the tea leaves into either white or green tea, depending on how the leaves are processed. Maybe even oolong or black tea. I hope to post that process soon, but I don’t want to shock the poor plants right now any more than the shipping may have.

How to grow Tea

These plants have plenty of room to spread their roots, and I hope to be able to plant them in the ground next fall, when (hopefully) there won’t be as much construction traffic going on.

However, I have read that it is necessary to harvest the new tea leaves as soon as they appear, before they get too big and not useful. Harvesting also helps to prune the plant and keep it at a reasonable height, as some can grow more than 15 feet tall, and I certainly do not want to climb a ladder for my tea!  After doing more research, I found that harvesting the tea leaves four times a year would not be unreasonable, starting with what the Chinese call the “first flush” n the spring, and ending sometime in August, so that I don’t disturb the fall flowers too much.  I think my honey bees will just adore the tea leaves!

In the meantime, I am dreaming of all the types of tea add-ins – rose hips, madrone berries, dried elderberries, lavender flowers, dehydrated orange peel, dried mint and or lemon balm leaves…  the possibilities are endless!  Of course, to sweeten the tea, I have my faithful stevia plant or my yummy honey from our bees!  I think I am going to collect a bunch of beautiful jars with the bail top lids so I can store the tea and all these flavorings.  Won’t that look pretty on an open shelf in my kitchen?

This is going to be so much fun!

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15 thoughts on “I’m Growing My Own Tea!

  1. How exciting, I am also an avid tea drinker and I’ve never thought to try growing my own. I’ll be interested so hear more later about how you get on.

    • Good morning, Julie – thanks for stopping by! Since I wrote this post, one of my plants isn’t looking so great, but it is still alive. I will post in a few months when I get my first harvest, so stay tuned. 🙂

    • Well, we will see how it goes! I am very optimistic, but then I’m one of those glass half full (should I say teacup half full?) type of people. I am so glad you stopped by today and always enjoy your comments, Lydia!

  2. I’m excited to see how it goes. I’ve thought about growing my own, but the sheer volume I’d have to grow to support my habit is daunting. 😊

    • I know, Maridy, you are so right! I will probably buy more plants and use them as a privacy hedge… at least that is what I will be telling my husband 😉 Anyway, I am excited to see how these do here. Apparently they form lots of seeds, so perhaps I can get some going from seed. But first I will have to figure out how to prepare the tea into the different types; white, green, black, etc., and then figure out the storage for it. On another subject… Do you have any baby bunnies yet?

      • I only drink black tea, so I’d have to process all of it, and I’d have to do a lot of research to even know where to start.

        And no, the rabbits never had bunnies. :-/ not sure what happened. We bred them again yesterday, though, so hopefully in a month.

        • After doing some research about how to process the tea, it doesn’t look very difficult. Too bad about the rabbits – better luck next time!

  3. I’ve wondered if I might be able to do that, so it’s exciting to learn that you found a source. I may have to try that. I’ve enjoyed growing other herbs for tea. I grew some Thai Roselle last summer and wrote about it on my blog, if you’d be interested. If you haven’t tried it, I bet you’d like it.

    • Yes, I have heard of Thai Roselle! I will visit your blog and read more about it. I absolutely adore hibiscus flavored tea and this would be a wonderful alternative (or addition) to my tea. Thank you for stopping by my blog and thank you (in advance) for your post about Thai Roselle.

  4. Oh, how cool is that! I totally did not know/think we could grow our own tea. I say that, but we do make tea with lavender and lemon balm that we grow, but does that count? Thanks for sharing that. How fun to do that~~

    • Hello, Michelle – so nice to hear from you! I thought it was pretty cool also – especially since I love tea so much! I also love lavender and lemon balm as a combination and steep it together with a leaf or two of stevia. It makes the most refreshing iced tea!

  5. Those plants did arrive looking beautiful. I can’t wait until you produce your own tea! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

    • Yes, I was a bit shocked to see how big and beautiful those plants were! Once I have my first harvest, process and consumption of the tea, I will write another post. Thank you for being such a wonderful party host.

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