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Common Name:

Botanical name:

Camellia sinensis in profile.

Theaceae

B & T World Seeds reference: 23402

Common names and Synonym:
Tea, Chai, An Hua Ch'A, Cay, Ch'A, Cha, Green Tea, Ming, Wu I Ch'A
Thea sinensis.

Camellia sinensis, Thea sinensis. Flower: Solitary, white, to 3 cm in diameter, fragrant, in the leaf axils.

Fruit: Capsule, 1-2 seeds. The average seed weight is just over 1 gram = about 90 seeds in 100 grams.

Foliage: The leaves are elliptical, to 9 x 3cm

Form: Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub

Height: 1 to 6 meters (1 to 2 meters in plantations)

Uses: Medicinal, Spiritual, Economic, Beverage.

Camellia sinensis is the tea bush.
Tea is the world's most important caffeine beverage.
Camellia sinensis leaves contain many compounds, such as polysaccharides, volatile oils, vitamins, minerals, purines, alkaloids (eg.caffeine) and polyphenols (catechins and flavonoids).

Historical records suggest that Camellia sinensis leaf preparations were originally considered a medicine; used (as an infusion, paste or ointment) to give energy, to help soothe headaches or to help digestion.
Later Camellia sinensis tea, "Ch'a" (made with powder grated from green-tea leaf-bricks) became widely known in China through it's use as a stimulant by Buddhist monks and, the Chinese poet, Lu Yu's popular classic "Ch'a Ching" - the book of tea. Zen Buddhist monks introduced the beverage and Camellia sinensis cultivation to Japan.

Modern tea use started around the 15th century; the Chinese started to enjoy tea leaves infused in hot water, in preference to the whisked, powdered, tea still used in "Chanoyu" - traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Europe (Holland and Britain) discovered and spread the beverage throughout their sphere of influence.

Today, with current health-consciousness, green tea is fast becoming a drink of choice - even in countries where tea drinking has not been a tradition.

Minimum Temperature: USDA zone: 7 (-17,50 to -12,50 Centigrade)


Camellia sinensis is included in the following B & T World Seeds sub-lists:

31 House and Container Plant and Seed List
34 Oriental Herb and Vegetable Seed List
36 Herb Seed List - Culinary, Medicinal, Dye, and Aromatic
51 Chinese Natives and Introductions
171 Camellia Seed List
190 Trees and Shrubs For Mediterranean Climates
191 Tropical Shrubs and Trees
654 Theaceae

Camellia Cultivation: Camellia sinensis are propagated from cuttings (hardwood, spring, bottom heat, slow) or seed. Soak seed in warm water for 24 hours before sowing.
Camellia sinensis need full sun to part shade. They prefer a well drained but water retentive soil, neutral to slightly acidic and rich in organic matter. Increase watering when the plant is actively growing and when the plant is in bloom.

Young Camellia sinensis leaves are pan-dried soon after harvesting, producing green "natural" tea - Black tea is produced from the same leaves, but they are allowed to oxidise much more before drying; the leaves are fermented in "cool" humid rooms until the whole leaf is dark.
Tea's antibacterial and antioxidising activities decrease with processing (black tea is more processed than green tea).

Tea abuse can lead to anaemia, due to the antioxidant action inhibiting dietary iron uptake.

eMail Matt Sleigh at B and T World Seeds B and T World Seeds homepage

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