Tea Plants: Cold Hardy and Easy to Grow
The most popular drink in the world? Tea! And best of all, it comes from Tea Plants, which can be easily grown at home indoors or out.
So, today we’re diving in to the history, facts, and care of the Cold Hardy Tea Plant.
Drinking tea is a very old tradition, dating back to China, centuries ago. According to one legend, tea discovery dates back to 2737 BC. Emperor Shen Nong had a cup of boiling water, when tea leaves suddenly blew into his cup and changed the color of his water. He enjoyed the new, flavorful drink, so tea was born. Tea was originally for royalty only, until the Chinese government decided to plant more tea plants and to open tea shop so all could enjoy the beverage.
A few centuries later, a Buddhist monk, Eichu of Japan, brought tea back with him after visiting China, and the Japanese emperor started serving hot tea to his guests.
In the 17th century, when tea was introduced to England, it was in very limited supply. The king and queen made it quite popular as a royal drink. Aristocrats started having tea parties in the afternoons as social events. It was so expensive that people started to sell tea on the streets, illegally. Luckily, tea eventually became more available to the public, with many tea cafes opening all over the country.
During the time of the American Revolution, many Americans felt as if drinking tea was unpatriotic, so many people switched from drinking hot tea to coffee. Tea didn’t grow in popularity as quickly as it did in other countries. Sweet tea was used to show wealth and status in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the early ’90s that interest in different forms of hot tea nearly quadrupled.
Cold Hardy Tea Plants
We carry the Cold Hardy Tea Plant, or the Camilla Sinensis, which is related to the original tea plant used in China thousands of years ago. It has smaller, more narrow leaves than other tea plant varieties, with a sweet flavor that falls in between green and black tea. This tea plant is the most cold hardy tea plant available, recommended for growing zones 7 through 9.
If your area gets colder than zone 7, you’re in luck – this tea plant variety grows in containers indoors! Simply place it in a pot, and bring it indoors once the weather starts to get cold.
The Cold Hardy Tea Plant can grow quite large, 10 to 15 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide. With its ability to grow large, it makes a sizable privacy screen, full of tea leaves. However, we recommend keeping Cold Hardy Tea Plants around 3 to 4 feet tall for easier harvests.
Tea Plant Care
Plant your Cold Hardy Tea Plants in an area that receives full to partial sunlight. Keep in mind that your soil needs to be well-drained. Add well-draining, acidic potting mix to your soil prior to planting if your soil is heavy in clay.
If you plan to place your Cold Hardy Tea Plants in containers, make sure they have holes to allow water to drain from the bottom. Drainage holes can easily be added to pots with a drill. Place your plant in the container with a well-draining, acidic potting mix.
Once a year, in the early spring, feed your tea plants a well-balanced acidic fertilizer before the growing season. This will give your tea plants a boost of nutrients and energy for new growth all summer long.
Also, it’s best to prune tea plants in the late winter or early spring, about six weeks after the final frost. Another good time to prune your plants is in the early fall. Before pruning, look at your plants to give yourself a good idea of what you want to prune. Then use a sharp and sterile pair of loppers and make your cuts at 45-degree angles facing upwards to promote new growth.
Your Cup of Tea
No matter your favorite type of tea, Cold Hardy Tea Plants can provide it. The taste of tea depends on how young the tea leaves are when they’re plucked, and how much oxidation they receive.
White tea involves the youngest leaves and leaf buds. Look for leaves and unopened leaf buds that still have white fibers and pluck them. Allow them to dry for a few hours or overnight, then steam them in a vegetable steamer or on the stove. Allow the leaves to dry on a screen in the sun, and store them in an air-tight container until you’re ready to use them.
For green tea, pluck the youngest leaves and leaf buds and dry them by blotting with a towel. Then let them dry in the shade for a few hours before steaming on the stove. Next, spread your tea leaves across a baking sheet and let them bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 250 degrees. After the leaves have baked, store them in an air-tight container until you’re ready to use them.
Allowing the leaves to oxidize for different amounts of time will change their flavor. Experiment with how long you leave the leaves out before baking to find the flavor you enjoy most. You can also steep your tea with a variety of spices to create flavor variations.
Healthful and Delicious
Studies show that tea is filled with antioxidants, lowers bad cholesterol levels, and improves heart health. Tea is also shown to de-stress the brain.
Best of all, it doesn’t matter which type of tea is your favorite. A home-grown and steeped cup of tea is an excellent alternative to sodas. Also, if you grow your own tea at home, you don’t need to worry about pesticides or mystery chemicals.