EthanAten
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Tea Plants? Totally New. Where to Start?

So before I start a real garden I'd like to dip my toes in and grow maybe a few tea plants. I've done some reading and it seems like the best type of plant for what I want is Camellia Sinensis Var. Sinensis. However, I'd like to get your guys' take on it here. I'd like something that I can raise inside in the winters while its small/fragile but gets a decent little size. I'll be moving away from home in a few years (3ish) so I'd like a type that doesn't get too big so I can still transport it easily in a decent sized pot. So perhaps a small shrub but big enough for me to harvest and make tea with it consistently (i don't know how often really) perhaps every few days? If thats unrealistic please do let me know, I'm still really new to this. I've only done research so far.
And also, I'm not sure if I want to start growing from seed up or start with a small little already grown plant. What does growing from a seed really do other than provide oneself with a greater sense of accomplishment? I appreciate any and all advice given. Thanks in advance! ^_^

EDIT: I realized there is a Forum Area for just Herbal Growing so I'll repost this in there, sorry.

EthanAten
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Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:16 am
Location: USA, Idaho

Totally New to Growing. Need Advice about growing tea plant

So before I start a real garden I'd like to dip my toes in and grow maybe a few tea plants. I've done some reading and it seems like the best type of plant for what I want is Camellia Sinensis Var. Sinensis. However, I'd like to get your guys' take on it here. I'd like something that I can raise inside in the winters while its small/fragile but gets a decent little size. I'll be moving away from home in a few years (3ish) so I'd like a type that doesn't get too big so I can still transport it easily in a decent sized pot. So perhaps a small shrub but big enough for me to harvest and make tea with it consistently (i don't know how often really) perhaps every few days? If thats unrealistic please do let me know, I'm still really new to this. I've only done research so far.
And also, I'm not sure if I want to start growing from seed up or start with a small little already grown plant. What does growing from a seed really do other than provide oneself with a greater sense of accomplishment? I appreciate any and all advice given. Thanks in advance! ^_^
Now I also know that you have to play what you grow to your location so heres my info. I live in Northern Idaho so I'm pretty sure thats in the USDA Zone 6. Winters have been pretty mild lately, never dipping bellow 0 degrees. I don't have a greenhouse. If you have any additional questions feel free to ask! Thanks!

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!potatoes!
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Re: Totally New to Growing. Need Advice.

a few things:

what kind of processing are you thinking of doing? 'big enough to make tea with consistently' is pretty big unless you're only talking about throwing a few leaves in a cup (in which case you won't get much if any flavor or other benefits). even the less-processed green and white teas will take some time to deal with and a fair number of leaves per cup of tea. i have a tea shrub that's about two feet tall now, and if i harvested as much as i could (i don't, as i want to encourage continued growth), i'd only get a few - ten, twelve, fifteen, twenty? - cups worth from a harvest. maybe a couple harvests per year, but that's still not going to keep you in consistent tea. so yeah, consistent tea from one small (or even medium-sized) plant is probably unrealistic.

also, not sure how well tea will like coming inside for the whole winter. it might be fine with it, but may prefer more of a dormant season.

regarding seed vs. seedling, i've heard of some folks having some problems germinating seed, unless fresh.

EthanAten
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Re: Totally New to Growing. Need Advice.

Oh huh ok... I wasn't sure how it would fair outside in the winters. Does it die off if it gets too cold or is it an evergreen/ centennial? And honestly a few cups worth every harvest would be fine with me since I'm just starting out. I really don't mind. And about the processing, I don't really know much about processing so I'd have to read up on it a bit more. All I really know (or i think that I know hah) is that processing different parts of the plant makes different forms of tea (I think).

imafan26
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Re: Totally New to Growing. Need Advice.

Camelia are native to the cooler areas of India and SE Asia and do well in zones 7-9. It can be kept as a potted plant and pruned to keep it short. It can be grown as a house or green house plant if you give it the right light. Making tea every few days is unrealistic. Do you remember the tea commercial where the guy goes to the tea master and he just picks the tip of the plant. Well, that's the only part you use, the very tip. You will only be able to harvest that when camelia is in a growth phase and not when it is dormant.

I went to a seminar once on making Yum Cha. It involved collecting the tea tips, putting it in a container with a lid and tossing the container 1500 times. Then after everything is wilted and softened, it gets cooked, much like coffee except it is a different kind of roasting. Like coffee how long you roast it determines whether it is black tea or green tea. Flavoring tea is done in the drying phase with the jasmine. After that we learned to have a dedicated pot for tea, never made of metal, although it is ok to boil the water in a metal pot. First you pour the hot water in the pot to warm the pot and throw it out. You put in the tea and water and steep it (I forgot how long) You pour the tea and discard the first cup. You can make successive pourings and the tea will be a little darker after each pour. In the end it was like a Japanese ceremony. I would rather buy my tea.

The UH did come up with an alternate method to make tea.
https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/FST-26.pdf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DA3rut3zyV8
wok processing tea leaves
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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!potatoes!
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Re: Totally New to Growing. Need Advice about growing tea pl

one difference, from what i've understood and done while processing: : the oxidation level is what gives you green, oolong, or black tea. roasting is done sometimes for flavor (usually in partially oxidized oolongs), but mostly to kill the enzymes that are driving the oxidation process. you can't roast an unoxidized tea into being black tea. you'd end up with a roasted green tea, which isn't the same at all.

and agreed, it's mostly not different parts per se that make different teas. most use the tips - sometimes up to three un-expanded leaflets. a few use whole full leaves, but not many. a very few use twigs, but no idea what the processing is like for those (kukicha is one).

the plants are evergreen, and would take damage/potentially die outside during your coldest times. mine seem to like being mostly outside in the winter and just coming in when it gets below 20F, but that will change when i get them in the ground.

EthanAten
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Re: Totally New to Growing. Need Advice about growing tea pl

Huh ok. Sooo, it should just be fine? Just bring it in when it looks like it needs it? Simple enough. And what would be a good place to buy a little Camelia Sinensis Var Sinensis from?

imafan26
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Re: Totally New to Growing. Need Advice about growing tea pl

That is right. After the wilting process the heat treatment is to destroy the enzymes. It is the fermentation process afterwards that develops the flavor

Logee's usually carries unusual tropical plants. They are expensive, but their products are good and guaranteed.
There are seeds and plants available on Amazon and camelias should readily sprout if the seeds are good but you have to check out the warranty from the sellers.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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