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How to Grow Your Own Tea by Cassie Liversidge

Sunday, 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.

~Cassie Liversidge

Next month’s blog post: "Top Tea to Grow this Month- Chamomile"


© All content and images are copyright of author.
Watch for Homegrown Tea, to be released in March.

Photos appear here with permission of St. Martin’s Press and are not to be used for reproduction.

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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

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Gareth Davies
a guest said on Thursday, March 3rd 2016 @ 5:52 AM:

Thanks for the blog! Really interesting! I have a quick question; when is the best time of year to plant a tea bush?

TeaHouseTimes Admin
TeaHouseTimesAdmin said on Friday, March 4th 2016 @ 9:53 AM:

Hello Gareth, we reached out to Jason McDonald of The Great Mississippi Tea Company and here is the reply (March 2016):

There is really no idea to know for sure. 

You really want to make sure the main stem has the same diameter of a pencil before putting out. If the plant has been acclimated to local conditions (outdoors) all winter, then it could go in now. If it has been indoors or in a greenhouse, I would wait until the night temperatures are above 50 degrees F. If you are somewhere where there is snow, make sure to wait until the threat of snow is gone. 

It all depends on the size of the plant, whether or not it is acclimated, if there is snow or not, and so on and so forth. 


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