The tea leaf comes from an evergreen, perennial shrub called Camellia sinensis, a distant relative of the shiny-leaved camellia that we grow every where in the South.
It takes about 5 years for tea bushes to develop, but after that they can be harvested for over 50 years. The flavor of the harvested tea varies from day to day, depending on the weather, the soil and the climate. If a tea bush is on a sunny slope the leaves will taste different than a tea bush on a shady one.
Just the very tip and top leave of each branch go into making that perfect cup, and the best quality teas are still harvested by hand around the world, in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, parts of Africa and parts of South America.
If tea is picked by machine, the coarser leaves and stems are often picked along with the tender leaves. These coarser leaves are cut, torn, and crushed to create powder that will brew quickly and be used in instant tea and tea bags.
Next time we will look at how one plant can turn into so many different varieties of Tea.
Enjoy your day and don’t forget to take some time for Tea!