Grow your own tea--if you're zones 7-9 : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Organic Gardening, Dec 1995.

[Summary/Commentary] The article describes tea as "a small evergreen tree that thrives in zones 7 through 9." So we can grow it here in Durham! Sweetie will like that; he's the tea-drinker, not me, detest the stuff. I'm not too surprised tea will grow here because I bought some US tea from Sam's last fall, grown on the only US tea plantation--the American Classic Tea Company's Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island near Charleston, SC.

Tea requires a moist, acid soil (pH between 5.0 and 5.5) with excellent drainage, high humidity and partial shade. One of the plantation's co-owners says you can probably grow tea anywhere in the Southeast where azaleas and camellias grow.

Tea is a hardy plant--the plantation has used no insecticides or fungicides since 1978. The bushes are pruned into a manageable form and harvest consists of picking only the tips--two leaves and a bud.

Processing is more difficult. The plantation spokesperson said let the picked tips wither for 18 hours. Then grind the tips in a meat grinder. When the tea smells ready (?), it is dried, cleaned, graded and packed. I suspect that the average homeowner can rig up some sort of drying apparatus covered with muslin (but not touching the leaves) so that cleaning isn't necessary. Drying in a food dehydrator, as for herbs, would probably work too. Obviously, grading wouldn't be a requirement and you could pack in airtight containers and store in a cool, dark place.

Now if only I can figure out how to grow Twining's English Breakfast flavour.

Tea plants are available from Woodlander's, 1128 Colleton Ave., Aiken, SC 29801.

-- Old Git (, April 26, 1999


Hey, Old Git!

Sorry I didn't get a chance to thank you for your reply on rhubarb; I was at work, I could read it but not respond (security, you know). Many thanks, I shall try your suggestions. Re this post: you've surprised me again! It never occured to me to try growing tea. "...not me, detest the stuff." My wife lives on it; if I could grow it (zone 9), I would be a hero. Always my goal. You are gaining quite a fan club!


-- spindoctor (, April 27, 1999.

Old Git,

Do you know anything about New England Tea? It's an herb native to North America that some colonists drank during the Tea rebellion (ie, right after the Tea Party).

I'd like to try some just for kicks. Is it any good?

(By the way, I'm originally from NC -- Fayetteville area.)

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, April 27, 1999.

Not to mention all the other herbal teas that could be grown even further North.

I wonder about these tho if you are an all-day confirmed tea drinker as we are. I have several books on herbs but none of them seem to mention the fact that some of these are dangerous for people with allergies or that you could turn out to be allergic to them. I,for one, cannot drink cammomile safely, and yet see few warnings about this.

Old Git ,or anyone, know more about this ?

-- sue (, April 27, 1999.

Oh good, glad this post got some responses, sounds as if it might be useful if there's another Boston Tea Party. Before I forget, Big Lots currently has Ceylion Tea imported by a Canadian firm, Earl Grey, 99c/25 bags--VERY good price for imported tea and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) tea is GOOD. Maybe that's why Arthur C. lives there.

Now, don't know about what was drunk after the BTP but it could have been "Mormon Tea," which I THINK (not sure) was monarda sp. (beebalm). Have to look that up.

Have never heard of anyone allergic to chamomile before--how unfortunate! Well, it's a pretty plant anyway, beautifully green and lush. Used to be used as a lawn in Elizabthean times, there are strains with small or no flowers for same. Infusion can also be used as a hair rinse, but wouldn't recommend if you can't drink it.

Have a busy day today, the Hungarian and I are going to meet again with Puddintame and also Big Dog (who's been meeting with Critt who was up here a little while ago--ugh, this is starting to sound like a gossip column!), then Hug and I have to go to Sam's, then Farmer's Market in Raleigh. May be tomorrow or later when I look up teas, but I'll see what I can find.

-- Old Git (, April 27, 1999.

Old Git,

I'm a coffee and tea freak; I can't help it. :)

To your description, I'd add this: what you're describing is green tea. Black and Oolong teas are permitted to ferment a bit (black more than oolong), which alters the flavor. Green tea is a bit "grassy" tasting to me; I like fully-developed black teas.

But you're right about Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Some of the best tea grown. India's Darjeeling tea is also considered on of the best.

Green tea fanatics tell me that the best comes from Japan and China; I'll have to let them be the judges of that. :)

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, April 27, 1999.

Twinings Breakfast Tea & Earl Grey..Good Heavens!

-- Chris (, April 27, 1999.

I read that anyone having hayfever should not drink cammomile. But I really have no proof since I didn't want to be the one to test it out !! LOL Have no allergy to it in bath salts or shampoos tho. Anybody else tested it ?

-- sue (, April 28, 1999.

Twinings makes two flavors that I'm never without: Green Tea with Mint, and Lemon Flavor...

And btw, how many cuppas do you have to ingest each day before you're officially labeled a tea 'freak'? I'm averaging 7-10 mugs a day.

-- Morgan (, April 28, 1999.

This is from someone else allergic to Chamomile in tea etc. Yes, if you have hay fever you are more likely to be allergic to Chamomile Sinuses stuff up somthing awful. Thank god for benadryl, I am well stocked up on that product.


-- LeEtta Cole (, April 28, 1999.

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