Tea Plant

Only tea that is cultivated, grown and produced from Camellia sinensis plant can be called a “True Tea”. All the diverse types of tea – including green, white, yellow, oolong, red (black) and dark tea (aged tea) - are derived from just one species of plant Camellia sinensis.

Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. There are more than 200 described species of Camellia. The genus Camellia appeared at the end of the Mesozoic – beginning of the Cenozoic era (65 million years ago). One of the first species to appear in the genus of Camellia was the tea tree or Camellia sinensis which is commonly referred to as tea plant, tea shrub, and tea tree.

Camellia sinensis var. sinensis and its subspecies, Camellia sinensis var. assamica, are two major varieties grown today. 

Camellia sinensis plant has originated in southwest China. Various research methods (easy hybridization, and various types of intermediate hybrids and spontaneous polyploids, statistical cluster analysis, chromosome number) have shown that a single place of origin for Camellia sinensis is Yunnan province, China. Historians trace the origins of the tea drinking to the Yunnan region during the Shang Dynasty in China when it was used for medicinal purposes. In Sichuan province, China, people began to boil tea leaves making a concentrated liquid without adding other leaves or herbs. They used tea as a bitter yet stimulating drink, rather than as a medicinal potion.

The most widespread form of Camellia sinensis is a small evergreen shrub, although one may come across a tea plant in the form of a small tree cultivated to a height of 1-2 meters. Also, tea trees can reach 10 to 20 meters in height, whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea.  More wild tea trees were found in the mountains of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces of China, many of them reaching more than 10 meters. Recently, the highest tree was considered to be the tree that grew in the Bada Shan. 巴达 山 or Bada Mountain is located on the border of Xishuangbanna (Yunnan, China), and Myanmar, also known as Burma. Its height reached 32,12 meters, the trunk was 1 meter in diameter, and its age was approximately 1,700 years. He also had his name - "The King of Tea Trees" (unfortunately, the tree was broken by the wind in 1967). 

Tea Camellia sinensis is mainly cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates because of the warm and humid conditions. It grows best in regions with at least 120 cm (47 inches) of rainfall per year. Tea plants prefer a rich and moist growing location in full to part sun. Many high-quality teas are grown at high altitudes, as the plants grow more slowly and acquire more flavour.

Herbal teas aren't actually considered as “teas”, even though they are labeled as such. Rooibos tea leaves also come from a completely different plant - Aspalathus linearis - found generally in South Africa. Just always keep it in mind that herbal teas and rooibos teas do not come from the actual Camellia sinensis tea plant. So if you are drinking tea for its health benefits - mainly for its beneficial antioxidants - you will not be getting any when drinking an herbal tea or rooibos tea. However, while all true teas contain caffeine, herbs do not, so they can be a relaxing bedtime drink.


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