Tea is something that is enjoyed by more people every year. It seems that as the benefits of this simple beverage become more well known, the more people want to know how to grow their own. While there are vast areas of the world where it can grow, these are sub tropical environments with specific temperature and rainfall parameters. An average low temperature of between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit is the bottom of the scale. Tea does not thrive in cold and frost is deadly to the plant. These temperatures can go much higher, but if they do, the plants will need more water. Between 20 and 40 inches of rainfall per yaer is a good measure, with more as temperatures rise. Lower rainfall should be compensated by having an area known for early morning fogs to keep the plants healthy. The rain should be spread out through the year as too much water in the soil will cause molds and fungus that damage the tea shrubs.
Mountains and hilly areas are often prime locations for tea. Even the soil requirements are difficult to find. It should be well drained and slightly sandy, with a good acidic content. The natural areas where soil has these properties have been found in places like Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the US. While the weather along the east coast of the US does have a habit of being more variable than most tea growers would like, there are some people who manage to produce enough for personal consumption.
Once the plant is healthy and mature enough to harvest, the choice of when to pick the leaves directly affects the taste and quality of the tea made. Processing your own tea can take a full day, but the leaves processed can be dried and saved for months.
While the amount of tea leaves harvest from a small endeavor means very little tea to drink, there is another advantage. The delicate white blossoms that bloom in fall are subtle and are a wonderful addition to a table setting, and make a simple defiant statement to the onset of winter that tea will see you through. If there is sufficient room to grow a plant to between 3 and 4 feet in height, there may be as much as a full pound of tea harvested from the plant every year. The initial harvesting will have to wait until the plant is mature, which takes three years.
Given all this, it might seem that tea is rather difficult to grow. Fortunately, that is not the case. With careful planning and choices, small tea plants can be grown in greenhouses or even in a yard if the proper environment can be maintained. Personal growth of small amounts of tea can be started with seeds or shots bought from a garden or online, and while it is unlikely that a home grower will be able to keep a supply around the year, an occasional cup of home grown tea can be a nice surprise.
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