Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tea plant

I am happy to say that I now have a tea plant! Thanks to my friend Angela McRae who actually has her very own tea shrub and gave me this beautiful sprout from her original, a couple of weeks ago after showing it at a tea event, where she was the guest speaker.

I am also happy that it is still alive. I have been thinking about just planting it in a spot that is protected from the weather but I am just not sure what to do with it. I am not sure I can keep it healthy until spring, but I am trying. So far, I have been watering it and telling it how beautiful it is and it seems about the same. I am thinking I now need to feed it and see if it will sprout a bit.

A tea plant or camellia sinensis, has been something I have been trying to grow for several years. I ordered some seeds online and planted them, hoping to grow some plants from those seeds but my seeds refused to sprout. I even gave people blessed with green thumbs a seed and -- no tea plants for them either.

Later, when I toured the LaGrange mansion/gardens, Hills & Dales, I saw their beautiful tea hedge and realized I could grow a tea plant in this area. (Of course they do employ full-time professional gardeners.) I had begun to think this plant couldn't be grown in our region -- though I knew there is a famous tea plantation still in operation in Charleston, S. Carolina. The most prized teas are grown in Asia, primarily in the mountains where their slow growth increases their flavor, according to Wikipedia. My favorite tea is a rich black variety grown in the region of Assam. I love the rich flavor and have almost always been happy when I purchased Assam tea.

So why do I want a tea plant? I would love to dry and cure tea for myself. I love tea, hot or cold and I just think it would be so nice to dry and brew my own tea. I've also always been amazed that green and black tea are grown from the same plant but processed differently.

If I can just keep this plant healthy and plant it in a good spot, I might eventually be plucking my own tea leaves and brewing my own tea. After all, the tea plant's cousin, the Camellia or camellia japonica grows well here in the south and we do naturally have acidic soil, loved by the tea plant. So wish me luck and in a couple of years, maybe three, if I am successful I can brag about my "first flush" tea. I prefer to think positively. If you have any hints or tips please leave me a comment.