What is the Tea Plant?
The Tea plant is a plant that we see and use every day and probably don’t acknowledge all of its various uses. In order to get all that we can out of the Tea plant it is important to know about the diverse characteristics of the plant. While there are many different products that may be considered “tea”, such as fusion teas, as well as drinks infused with other plants, we are going to look at the species known as “Camellia sinensis” which is used to make black tea, oolong tea, green tea, and white tea.
While Camellia sinensis is native to countries like China or India, it is now being cultivated across the globe in many tropical and sub-tropical environments. Tea remains one of the most historically recorded plants still in use today. In fact, the medicinal uses of tea date back to 4700 years ago by the great emperor Shennong in The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic, in which tea and a collection of plants were outlined for their medicinal uses. Tea has been known for its stimulant effects, amazing anti-oxidant properties, and even for help with simple things like stomach aches and bladder problems. We can break down some of these health benefits further in order to better understand how to use the tea plant.
Did you know that Tea contains caffeine? It is really no surprise that the various teas, black and green especially, contain the stimulant known as caffeine. In fact, about 3% of their dry weight is caffeine! . Teas percentage of caffeine in relation to its dry weight is actually more than coffee. When you are feeling a little sluggish or just don’t have that pep in your step, but don’t feel like brewing a pot of coffee, try switching it up and making some tea. It is important to be aware however, that caffeine is a natural diuretic, which is also beneficial for a number of reasons, including lowering high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver, and hypertension. Maintaining your hydration is the only downside of diuretics so be sure that if you are drinking a lot of tea that you take measures to properly re-hydrate yourself as well.
Tea has also been known to have anti-oxidant properties. Anti-oxidants have been the focus of numerous studies and while there are many mixed opinions about the benefits of anti-oxidants, many studies conclude that they do help in reducing the risk of heart disease. In addition, those who work out with regularity are at risk for oxidative stress, accompanied by inflammatory responses, which can be relieved by drinking tea regularly.
Grow Your Own Tea Plant from Seeds!
So if you think that you may want to start drinking tea on a regular basis than what would be better than growing your own tea plant and reaping the benefits?
Time and Commitment
Growing tea plants from seed is a great project however, growing your own tea is for advanced gardeners with a willingness to commit for a couple of years! If you think you fit this description then the next most important thing to consider is the climate in which you will be trying to grow a tea plant.
The tea plant is a naturally tropical or sub-tropical plant, which should be grown in a climate Zone of 8. This would include parts of the mid-west but more specifically the southern region of the United States. If you don’t live in one of these areas you would have to consider growing the plant in a greenhouse or pot that you can easily move indoors.
Growing your Plant
- Seeds:First, you will need seeds. Check out eGardenSeeds.com’sTea Plant Seeds to accommodate your needs.
- Soil: Once you’ve got your seeds you will need to pick a soil mixture that is just right for your plant. . A key to a good plant will be a soil mixture that is sandy and quick to drain. Other growers suggest a soil that is slightly on the acidic side, but a well-drained mixture is paramount to a good plant. Another tip is to add some sphagnum moss to your potting mixture. This will be extremely beneficial as this moss will be vital in providing your sand soil mixture with the capacity to hold water and nutrients.
- Pot: The tea plant is a small shrub, that can grow up to 3 feet if you don’t prune it, so pick an appropriate sized pot if that’s is where you will be growing it.
- Grow! Tea plant seeds germinate erratically and over a long period of time. These seeds can germinate at any time from a month and up to a year after being planted- patience is key!!! Once your plant is growing, expect it to blossom in the fall, with small aromatic flowers, that are quite pleasant. You will need to wait 2-3 years before attempting to harvest your plant, but the wait will be worth it!!