Dinosaurs
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Japanese Sencha Green Tea - Can it be grown in PA?

Hello, I am new here. For Christmas my girlfriend bought me some Japanese Sencha tea from the World Market. It was by far the best green tea I have ever had.

My questions are where does it come from, and how can I grow it myself if possible? Keep in mind I live in Pgh, PA and if needed can bring the plant inside. Thank you in advance. :)

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Sencha is the name given to a style of growing and processing. The plant itself is [url=https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/camellia_sinensis.html]Camellia sinensis[/url]. There are several grades of green teas that have different methods of cultivation, parts of the plants, and processing which impart different flavors and receive formal grading, of which sencha is one of them.

According to the above link:
...tea... is reported to tolerate drought, frost, low pH, peat, shade, and slope...
It's basically a tree and trees generally like to grow outdoors.

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applestar
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I've been looking FOREVER for tea plants. Unfortunately, most seemed only reliably hardy to Zone 7 and my area is on the colder side of Zone 6b. In my experience, these borderline shrubby plants are usually hard to grow when it's just a tad colder because they WANT to go dormant and be cold during the winter, but not that cold. I've lost a lot of plants that were supposed to be hardy to Zone 6 (which should mean they have a better chance in 6b than 6a....) Also, tea plant is a broadleaf evergreen, meaning they need sufficient light during dormancy AND is prone to foliage damage due to transpiration-loss, which makes it even more tricky. You need a bright sufficiently protected area that can still supply the humidity and moisture Mother Nature intended (or you have to supplement what's missing).

Then I found [url=https://www.camforest.com/SearchResults.asp]Camelia Forest Nursery[/url]. They have selections that are hardy to Zone 6B and 6A.

I want to grow them too. There are some specific harvesting and processing techniques needed to achieve the Sencha quality. If I manage to get the plants this spring, I'll be posting more on the subject later on. (Another PROJECT :wink:)

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rainbowgardener
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I tried one of the new winter hardy camellia varieties, rated for zone 6 and I'm also in 6b. But it's first winter was a pretty tough one and it didn't make it. Maybe I didn't do enough to protect it. I haven't tried again.

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applestar
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I'm intuitively convinced (that means I'm guessing :wink:) that these borderline shrubs and trees need to be planted in the early spring of the season rather than later so their root systems are solidly established by the time cold weather rolls around again. Best planting time, I feel sure, is AFTER peas but BEFORE potatoes.

Camelia Forest asks WHEN you want your shipment to arrive -- yeah this thread's pushed me into ordering some -- (SO EASILY INFLUENCED :> :roll:) -- which I think is a nice service if they come through. (Of course, sometimes, I've no clue when would be the best planting time... then, it's REALLY great when the nursery sends the stuff to you EXACTLY at the right time. 8) )

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rainbowgardener
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That sounds right Applestar, and I know the camellia I bought was planted in fall.... Maybe I'll try again sometime with a spring planting.

Dinosaurs
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Ok, so I'll try to plant them in early spring. Now I am going to attempt this, if I were to plant it in a pot and bring it indoors like it says here: https://coffeetea.about.com/od/preparation/a/growingtea.htm what ways can I keep it alive indoors?

Im very new to gardening and was looking for ways to begin saving money. This and vegetables seemed like good investments. Also tips on pruning and starting seeds would be great!

Thank you, sorry to sound annoying :P [/code]

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applestar
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You're not annoying, you just don't realize what's involved, not having done this before. :wink:

I wouldn't know how to bring the tea plant inside to keep alive. IMO, I think the author of that article was rather careless with that statement. I've never been very successful at keeping borderline woody plants over winter. (and I've been growing plants indoors and out for over... I just had my birthday... quarter of a century... now I feel OLD! :lol: Not saying I'm an expert by any means, just that I've had my share of failures :roll: and know my limits. :? ) The ones I'm thinking of are Zones 7~8. I can manage Zones 9 and over fine. Just check out the [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/search.php?mode=results]problems folks are having with Rosemary[/url] (another woody plant that are usually hardy only to Zone 7 or 8 ). I've been managing it for the 2nd winter in row, but rosemary has needle-like leaves, not a flat "broad" leaf.

I don't know how many times I've tried to keep Sweet Bay Laurel alive over winter... and failed (that one is prone to scale insect and/or mealybugs as well as red spider mite attacks -- not so much in keeping the plant itself alive per se). Oh, that's not to say I haven't managed to overwinter the plant once... it's the 2nd winter that somehow never works out. They don't grow well, remaining rather sickly through the growing season, then get infested by bugs and don't make it during the winter. We'll see how these rosemary plants do for the remainder of THIS winter -- IF they survive, then, I just might go over the penciled notes on how I'm doing it with ink. The less hardy varieties of thyme, too can be iffy to overwinter.

(Figs is another borderline that I want to try growing, and I know some people, even up towards zone 5 manage to do it. But there seems to be a LOT involved. It's a deciduous tree and is a bit more forgiving though.)

I would not recommend planting the tea plant in a container when keeping it outside during the winter. Container environment, being above ground, is usually considered ONE ZONE colder. The roots need the protection of being under ground. I will be planting my tea plants in the warmest microclimate in the garden I can manage AND heavily mulching for further protection.

BTW -- Have you considered growing coffee plants? I haven't done it yet, having only recently become aware of the possibility and indoor culture-suitability of their requirements, I'm definitely going to in the near future. Currently looking for best sources for the plants.

Dinosaurs
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Well, I will order one or two and try my luck. I'll continue to do research, so if anyone can come up with tips please post here. My other question...is as webmaster said that sencha comes from the style of growing and processing...what is the style of growing and processing?

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applestar
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- Grown fully weathered (full sun) through harvest rather than lightly shaded/protected prior to harvest (Gyokuro)
- Only early season first and second harvests are used
- Briefly steamed to arrest enzyme activity before drying
- Squeezed and rolled into tiny sticks (did you read the Tea page at Camelia Forest?) - originally processed by hand, now these steps are mechanized
- Low heat dehydrated

Dinosaurs
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applestar wrote:- did you read the Tea page at Camelia Forest?
Yes, I read through it rather quickly though as I was going to be leaving soon. I did remember about the rolling it though.

tdmichaelson
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I tried a hardy Camelia once here (6b). It came back after the winter, but very weakly, then died the next winter. I think it was a bad site, though, as many plants have struggled where I planted it.

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applestar
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In addition to paying attention to, and relying heavily on available micro-climates around my garden, I have found it critical to plant borderline perennials in the spring of the growing season to allow the roots to become thoroughly established and fully matured before the winter.

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We're very far afield from Japanese gardening here but I can't resist this thread. As an interesting experiment in zone pushing I'm all for trying to grow Camelia sinensis in Zone 6A but I think any effort to argue that this is a practical exercise in the sense of producing significant amounts of good quality tea is totally unrealistic, even if you value your time at zero. Keeping the plant alive is one thing, although probably far from easy. Getting it to produce a quality leaf (or "bean" in the case of coffee) and learning how to properly process it is really reaching

As applestar correctly observed there is far more to both survivability and successful culture than a simple tissue break point temperature.

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rainbowgardener
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Might I suggest getting into herb teas? It's way easier! I have grown, dried and bagged up some lovely herbal tea varieties/ combinations.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

yama
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Hi all
Tea plant is for zone 8. zone 7 of northern states and south such as Georgia , South Carolina are different. Days of tempture below 32F or lenght of warm days makes big diffrence.
Most place growing tea is zone 7 a, 8 to 9 In Japan and so does in Korea . zone 7 b is marginal. In Zone 6, you have to have big green house and paying big heating bill... Zone 7a or b of in Gerogia is big difference to Cape Cod of Mass, zone 7a.
You can make tea from passimon tree, Goji plant, cameleon plant also
yama

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applestar
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Well, my two tea plants have been in the ground since late March. I'll let you know how they have fared after this winter. :wink:

yama
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rainbowgardener wrote:Might I suggest getting into herb teas? It's way easier! I have grown, dried and bagged up some lovely herbal tea varieties/ combinations.
Hi all
I am sorry to tell bad news for you guys.
Most Tea production area in Japan are zone 9 to 7. Zone 6 of Gerogia or new England are not same even it said zone 6 . yama

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applestar
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Well, I was saying was that I'm TRYING to see if I can get them to grow. I'm very well aware that Zone 6 is just outside of the optimum range, though what I purchased are supposed to be cold-adapted varieties. Quality, etc. I touched on earlier in the thread, I think.

Are you saying they'll likely die during the winter? There are some areas in northern Japan where tea are being grown. There are techniques that can be used to support non-hardy plants over the winter too. There are always exceptions when it comes to gardening. You won't KNOW until you TRY. And "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" DEFINITELY applies when your are trying to grow something. :wink:

yama
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rainbowgardener wrote:Might I suggest getting into herb teas? It's way easier! I have grown, dried and bagged up some lovely herbal tea varieties/ combinations.
Hi
Tea don't grow in Hokkaido for sure. Main island Honshu, Shikou Island kyushu Island can gorw tea. Some northan Japan snow high as 15 feet
kanto area which north of Tokyo may grow tea, But for Japanese, Kanto is not consider as north.
What I am trying say is that zone 6 of Geraogia and zone 6 of pen stae are different weather. lengh of day of gorund frozen, suny days per year day of above freez tempreture is deffrent.
Tea plants don't have same mechanizum of plant tisse northern plants have.
When I was small kid, we had field to grow tea for our own. my cousin's hasband, Mr sato's family has tea plantation in Shizuoka prefecture.
I am studying Korean tea ceremony and korean tea histotry and all indicate tea plnta do not grow in cold weather.

One strain of tea which grow northern India may grow your area.
Most tea plant came from Japan is originated from southen China
I can not provide you botanical name of northern strain of tea but there is such thing.
You can grow other herb tea in your area.
yama

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applestar
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Japanese teas grown in northern Japan:

-- Hiyama Tea (Akita Prefecture) - Northern limit in tea culture
檜山茶(秋田県) - 茶栽培の北限
-- Kisen Tea (Iwate Prefecture)
気仙茶(岩手県)
-- Murakami Tea (Niigata Prefecture) - Northern limit for commercially available tea
村上茶(新潟県) - 一般流通されている茶生産地としては北限

Source: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/日本茶

yama
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Hi applestar
You have done serch :D
Most Japanese tea grown came from warm reageon, kesennuma, Iwate,ken is north but they are coast of Japan, pacific ocian make winter mild.
Akita ken , Nigata ken snow heavely. not all region of Akita ken or Nigata ken can grow tea....I think perhaps some cultivar are surviving .
snow cover ground can maintain stable soil tempreture. Dry cold place drop soil tempreture much colder sudenly and cold dry wind makes big different.
Some part of Akita ken, Nigata ken snow some time 15 feet of snow sometime,but not every year.

I drink tea with Korean zen monk often. Korean tea are very fine tea too. Koren tea have many brands and color of tea also different.
Sunim has Japanese maacha and chasens and I like tea the way sunim serve.
( sunim means reverend, Osho, respect way to call monk in Korean)
It is good project that how tea plant (s) can survive in cold climate. 8)

yama

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