Tea Plant Seeds
(Camellia sinensis) Evergreen. Zones 6 - 9
Tea Camellia is an evergreen shrub grown traditionally for caffeinated tea. One tea plant will yield enough delicious tea for a lifetime, as it can produce for over 100 years!
Tea Camellia will grow well beyond its average 6 feet in a sheltered location out of strong winds, with moist soil and lots of sun. If you want to harvest leaves for tea, prune to 3-4 feet, for ease of harvest and to increase growth of new stems and fresh leaves.
Leaves are light green with little white hairs when young, and become leathery and a glossy deep green; fragrant 1-2” flowers are yellow-white with 7-8 petals; taproot is massive!
The smallest, young leaves and buds of Camellia sinensis are used for making Green tea; older leaves are used to make Oolong and black tea, and the buds make White tea!
The youngest leaves and buds are harvested for tea - they will be light green with short white hairs underneath. There is a special process for preserving the tea - leaves must dry out of the sun and be heated to 500 degrees for 15 minutes to stop oxidation. Then, leaves can be dried in the oven or a dehydrator. Store tea leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot.
Tea Camellia is native to mainland China South and Southeast Asia, where it was discovered around 2,700 BC. Leaves and flowers are used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Flowers can be pressed to yield tea oil, a sweet salad and cooking oil (not the same as tea tree oil!)
Cold Hardiness: Zones 6-9
If trying in Zone 5 and lower: consider growing Camellia sinensis in a container to easily move outside in the Summer, and back indoors during colder period.)
Edible: Leaf, Bud, Flower
Size: Large Shrub
Growth Rate: Slow
Nitrogen Fixer: No
Native Plant: No
Germination: 50-60% ** Naturally low germination
Sun Requirements: Full sun to part shade
Soil Preference: Moist, well drained acidic soil (Camellia sinensis is ericaceous aka acid-loving)
**Refrigerate seeds IMMEDIATELY! Seeds can rot at room temperature**
SEED PRETREATMENT: Soak seeds for 24 hours, start with hot tap water. Crack the seed coat after soaking, be gentle. Mix seeds with moist soil 4x seed volume. Place in a plastic bag.
STRATIFICATION: 60 days cold/moist (5°C). Place plastic bag with seeds and soil in your refrigerator, preferably in a veggie crisper. Inspect periodically for even moisture/germination.
POST-STRATIFICATION: Sow stratified seeds on the soil surface, press into the soil. Alternating soil temperatures during the day (25°C) and night (20°C) aids germination. Seeds will also benefit from light to germinate. Water evenly and regularly.
GERMINATION: Germination is naturally slow and erratic. When all previously mentioned requirements are fulfilled, germination generally occurs in 30-90 days.
Available direct from Incredible Seeds, a Canadian Heirloom and Heritage Seed Company, offering only the best natural, non-GMO, open pollinated and untreated seeds, located in Mi'kma'ki / Nova Scotia.