Camellia sinensis – A Miracle Plant


All tea derives from the camellia sinensis plant, which is endemic to a few regions of China, Tibet, and northern India. Two main varieties of the camellia tea plant exist: camellia sinensis, variety sinensis, and camellia sinensis, variety assamica.

The sinensis variety has small leaves and grows in the high, cool mountainous regions of central China and Japan. Premium tea grows better at higher elevations where mist and dew provide protection from direct sunlight.

The assamica variety has broader leaves. This form of camellia grows better at lower elevations in moist, tropical environments, such as those found in northeast India as well as China's Szechuan and Yunnan provinces.

Tea plants all share a few common traits—shiny, dark green leaves and small white flowers that reach an average diameter of three centimeters (1¼ inches). Their bright yellow stamens are bushy and look white in some forms.

Wild tea trees can grow up to 18 meters (60 feet). In Yunnan Province is a 1,700-year-old tree that is more than 30 meters (100 feet) tall. Tea plants, also known as tea bushes, are maintained at a height of about one meter (3 feet) by constant pruning and harvesting. This size is maintained because it produces richer, fuller leaves.

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