On a recent visit to China we did a tour of the Seven Star Tea Plantation which is about 6 kilometres north of Yangzhou.
It is run as an organic farm, with no pesticides being used.
We felt privileged to have a tasting of the new season’s green tea (not yet available for sale) served by the Master Tea maker.
As well as learning how to serve tea, we got to have a look at the production area where the tea was being dried and then fermented for the various black teas.
This experience has made me want to try to make my own green tea so I have planted three Camellia sinensis plants. Of course it will be a couple of years till I can harvest.
Camellia sinensis is native to East, South and Southeast Asia. It is an evergreen shrub that is usually trimmed to below 2 m when cultivated for its leaves. It has a strong taproot.
The young, light green leaves are preferably harvested for tea production. Older leaves are deeper green.
Different leaf ages produce differing tea qualities, since their chemical compositions are different.
Usually, the tip (bud) and the first two to three leaves are harvested for processing. This hand picking is repeated every one to two weeks.
Camellia sinensis is mainly cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates, in areas with at least 127 cm of rainfall a year.
Tea plants prefer a rich and moist growing location in full to part sun.
Tea plants will grow into a tree if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking.