Camellia sinensis

Tea. Wars have been fought over it. It is the defining drink of multiple countries and cultures, and was arguably one of the foundational pillars of English colonialism and empire, the ramifications of which we still grapple with today.

It’s also a nice drink.

It’s also a plant.

I grow those.

Now at my local garden center we sell lots of Camellias this time of year. Those are mostly from the species sasanqua or japonica, and grown for their flowers. Now Camellia sasanqua can be used for tea as well- but *the* tea shrub that is the backbone of green and black tea worldwide- is Camellia sinensis.

And now I have one.

I am uninterested in the flowers and will most likely cut them off. I want a bush. I want a shrub. I want to make my own green tea!

This is most likely impossible in this climate and I am aware that the goal of “nice shrub that smells good” is probably my most attainable goal.

Don’t care- gonna go for it.

This little baby shrub had a bonus though.

Those would be tea seeds! It looks like some of the flowers had already borne fruit and in the soil were three precious tea seeds.

So to add to my lofty goals, I’m gonna try a germinate them.

Because this wasn’t going to be difficult enough.

Adding to my difficulties the plant, while healthy, is rather small in its little gallon grow pot. You can squeeze the pot to see how developed the roots are and my new friend is rather squishy.

This means re-potting her now would be very detrimental to her health.

Problem is it’s incredibly windy this time of year and the rains are going to start soon.

In fact, yesterday at work while the winds were blowing down all our outdoor stock I frantically texted my mother in worry.

Mom has my back.

Bricks and a heavy spider plant are now miss tea’s companions I till I can figure out how to anchor her better.

This will be a learning experience, one I am going to embrace with both hands.

And hopefully a soon to be full teapot.

4 thoughts on “Camellia sinensis

  1. Cool that you’re growing Camellias too (well I’m not quite but one of my clients is getting a Camellia garden relating to my mefi post the other day). Following on from that I’ve done so much reading and looking at Camellias and trying to find ways to deal with the blight too.

    Could you do a kind of pot in pot transplant, maybe just cut down sides of pot and bed gently into new (much) larger pot – maybe a growbag.

  2. The pot is sooooo squishy I’m loath to do any sort of transplant yet, it’s clearly a very young plant. But prob by January that’s sort of what I’ll do. I do have a few 10 gallon grow bags left- and a good bag of ACG mix left. right now i’ts enjoying our rains, it’s pissing down in SF at the moment! hope the weather is nicer in NZ!

  3. HI weather in NZ is weird at moment but not too much pissing down., just huge temp changes on almost daily basis, 12C, 28, 15, 25, 10 etc, same in very south Australia. Seems weird that SF is so wet; I spent a wek there in 1990 and it was during a very long drought and that’s my memory – I stayed in the Castro and wandered and cycles about a lot, was quite an experience.

  4. NO WAY! THAT IS SO RAD! When I grew camellias, it was only ornamentals; japonica, sasanqua and a few reticulata. We did not produce any of the tea camellias. Someone gave me a tea camellia, but it died while I was away. I did not intend to produce black tea, but wanted to grow green tea. I don’t actually like green tea, but it happens to be something that can be grown and dried, without processing like black tea needs. Unfortunately, the most productive tea plants get pruned for an abundance of new foliar shoots, at the expense of floral buds.

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