How to Grow Your Own Tea by Cassie LiversidgeSunday, February 2nd 2014 @ 12:57 PM
All black, white and green tea is produced from one plant, the Camellia sinensis. You can grow your own tea even if you only have a small space in which to garden.
Try and buy the most established Camellia sinensis plant you can find, as it needs to be at least 3 years old before it will be big enough to start harvesting. Re-pot it in the early springtime to give it more room to grow. Camellia sinensis likes acid soil (pH5 or less), so you will need to pot it into soil for acid-loving plants, unless you have a garden with acidic soil. They also love a well-draining soil so mix in some perlite, fine grit or fine bark with the soil.
Once potted up, cover the surface of the soil with bark to act as a mulch to keep soil moist. They like to be given rainwater (more acidic) to drink and like to be kept moist.
When your tea plant has grown fresh, vibrant green leaves on it, these are perfect to harvest. Pluck the top two leaves and the bud to process into green or black tea.
To make green tea from your own fresh leaves, place the leaves into a steamer (a metal colander over a saucepan of water covered with a lid will suffice) for 1-2 minutes. Then immediately run under cold water to try and retain the green leaf colour. Then you need to roll the leaves in your hands for around 2-3 minutes. Place the rolled leaves on a dish and heat in an oven at 212-230 degrees F (100-110 degrees C) for about 10-12 minutes, turning the leaves every so often. When they are dry and crispy, they are ready to be used.
Next month’s blog post: "Top Tea to Grow this Month- Chamomile"
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Watch for Homegrown Tea, to be released in March.
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CASSIE LIVERSIDGE was born in the UK and studied fine art at Plymouth University. She grew up on her parents’ plant nursery, where her love of gardening began. Her debut book, Pasta Sauce! Grow Your Own Ingredients, came from a desire to share her passion for eating homegrown food and living in a more sustainable way. She lives and works in London with her husband and two sons, but spends time in New York each year. Watch for Homegrown Tea, to be released in March. Visit her website at cassieliversidge.com