The Tea Bush
The tea bush is normally referred to as the tea shrub, tea bush, tea tree or tea plant. However, all true tea comes from the evergreen Camellia Sinensis shrub, which originated in China and has been cultivated for many centuries. There are now over 3000 varieties of this plant growing in various mountainous regions around the world. The leaves of the Camellia Sinensis are dried and then processed, producing either white, green, black or oolong tea.
This is not the same plant as the one grown in Australia for tea tree oil. The Australian plant is called the Melaleuca Alternifolia tree and is not related to the Camellia Sinensis.
The Chinese tea bush has dark green evergreen leaves. It produces attractive, fragile looking white flowers. The best tea is created from the bud and the top two leaves from the branches. The rest of the leaves make lower grade types of tea.
The many ways in which tea is harvested make a large difference in the quality of the finished product.
The very best tea plants are grown in mountainous areas where they grow slowly. The leaves of plants grown in the mountains have more flavor than those cultivated in other places. Much of the best tea in the world is grown at altitudes of over 4,000 feet.
The best tea plants are pruned regularly so they do not exceed three feet in height. The pruning makes the tea bush more dense and it also makes harvesting by hand a much more simple task. The job of picking the buds and leaves is always performed manually for the best grades of tea. The tea bush is most often grown on large plantations. where women are traditionally hired to do the picking.