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Tea time!

A bringer of peace and moments for yourself: with its aromatic leaves and beautiful white flowers, the tea tree (Camellia sinensis) is not a newcomer in our range, but has made a comeback. To celebrate its return, in this blog we will tell you all about this plant, whose aromatic leaves form the basis of one of the most popular drinks in the world.


Tea tree?

Yes! Although the most common name for the Camellia sinensis is 'tea plant', it is actually a shrub or small tree, which can grow up to 20 meters high and more than 3000 years old! However, it is often pruned on plantations in order to be able to harvest the tea leaves more easily. The tea tree grows in the wild at high altitudes (up to 1500 m high). The higher the plant grows, the better the quality of the tea! Take the Jinxiutea king tea tree for example! This beautiful tree is 10.6 meters tall and with more than 3200 years old it is the oldest known tea tree in Yunnan province. In our colder climate (outdoors or indoors in a pot), however, it will remain smaller and not grow too fast.

(c) Yunnan Exploration [1]


The main reason why the tea plant is not called a tea tree is that the name 'tea tree' has already been given to the Melaleuca alternifolia (the source of tea tree oil) and Leptospermum scoparium (the New Zealand tea tree). Although these types have "tea" in their name, it is not recommended to make tea from them. No, the Camellia sinensis (and its varieties) is the only real tree you can make tea from.


The tea plant (to use its common name again) is native to Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, but is nowadays cultivated around the world in tropical and subtropical regions. Even in the Netherlands, small-scale tea plantations (in greenhouses) can now be found. You can also keep this beautiful plant in your garden, because it can withstand humidity well and is quite hardy. How nice would it be to harvest your own tea?!


A long history

Tea brewing also has its origins in Asia. Even the name "sinensis" means "from China" in Latin. The story is similar to the legend of the Arab monastic goats who discovered coffee: According to Chinese legend, more than 7,000 years ago, some Camellia sinensis leaves fell into the boiled water of the mythological figure Shen Nong. He liked the aromatic smell so much that he drank the water. He was impressed by the stimulant effect of the drink and declared it a medicine.


The oldest documented testimonies of Chinese tea culture and tea consumption date back to the 10th century BC, when tea was indeed drunk as a medicine. Tibetan butter tea, as it is still drunk today, most closely resembles this original preparation [2]. The traditional English 'afternoon tea' was introduced in 1840 by Anna the Duchess of Bedford. To satisfy her appetite, tea with bread and butter was served every day at 4:00 PM.


Tea is now a very popular drink worldwide that is drunk in different ways. White tea, green tea, yellow tea, oolong, black tea and dark tea – they all originate from the tea plant. The big difference is in the preparation method of te leaves. There are of course also other herbal blends that are prepared in the same way, but officially these do not contain tea.



Grow your own tea

The best thing about the tea plant: you can grow it yourself and make your own tea at home! If your tea plant is a bit bigger, you can harvest the leaves yourself. For black tea, proceed as follows:


1) Pick the last four leaves from a twig during the growing season (from May).

2) Roll the leaves into a ball until they turn reddish.

3) Let the leaves ferment for 2-3 days in a cool dark place.

4) Dry the leaves in the oven at 120°C for 20 minutes.

5) Tea time!


To get this far, your tea plant must of course first grow a little further. First, decide whether you want to keep it indoors or outside. Then the right pot is important, and finally the location. Do you put the tea plant in your garden? Then place the plant in a light sunny spot with partial shade. In the summer, make sure that the plant is not in full sun for too long. If you choose to keep the plant indoors, place it in a light spot near the window. Make sure that this place does not get too hot and do not place it near a heater.


Now that you know everything about the tea plant, you'll probably feel like a cup of tea! Order the tea plant or one of Treemore's other mailbox trees via Bloompost or Plantje.nl!


[1] https://www.yunnanexploration.com/top-ancient-yunnan-pu-erh-tea-trees.html

[2] https://www.nannuoshan.org/pages/tea-its-origins-and-its-history

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