Did you know you can grow your own tea
? I don't mean herbal tea
(although that is another option), but real tea---black tea, green tea... You get the idea.
Although there are many varieties of tea, they all come from the same plant---Camellia sinensis.
The varieties of tea flavors are caused by how the tea leaves are processed after they are picked. The plant is a small shrub that grows about 3 to 4 feet tall. It's attractive with fragrant blossoms in the fall and looks great as an ornamental plant.
Tea prefers a warmer climate (zone 8 and above
), but you can grow it indoors if you live in a cooler region. For planting, Camellia sinensis
likes well-drained, sandy soil that is on the acidic side
. The best place to find seeds is online, since you generally can't get them in a local garden supply store. Growing your own tea will require some patience though; you won't be able to harvest your tea leaves for about three years.
Once your tea plant is growing well and matures, you can begin picking leaves to make tea.
Growing your own tea
- For green tea, pick the youngest leaves and allow them to dry in the shade for a few hours. Steam the leaves for a few minutes, then bake them in the oven for 20 minutes at 250 F. Once the leaves are oven-dried you can use them to brew tea or store in a air-tight container.
- For black tea, pick the youngest leaves and leaf buds, then crush them in your hands until they turn red. Place them on a baking sheet and store in a cool location for several days. Oven dry at 250 F for 20 minutes before brewing tea or storing for later use.
can be an exciting process. Experiment with different drying techniques to create custom blends!