Rasika's Nursery

L i c e n s e d as a G r o w e r  b y t h e A l a b a m a D e p a r t m e n t  o f

A g r i c u l t u r e  N u r s e r y  Number 353

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Camellia Assamica

Family: Theaceae (tea family)
Common Names: tea, tea plant, tea tree


Grow your own Tea - Camelia  Assamica Sinensis Ruticae

This Tea Plant was grown in Prattville, Alabama


Alabama is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa) under the Köppen climate classification.


The tea plant can handle a light frost and even snow, but not heavy freezes or prolonged cold winters, and, unlike some plants, it does not require a period of cold dormancy. It can thus grow from subtropical climates to tropical climates, but generally requires a fair amount of humidity and rainfall during the growing season. Although Tea can grow in hot tropical climates if they are sufficiently humid, the highest-quality teas mostly come from subtropical climates with some seasonality.

Tea plants bloom in the autumn with fragrant, nodding cup shaped flowers about 1 in (2.5 cm) wide. The seven or eight petals are white. In commercial tea plantations, such as the one pictured here in the Badulla District of Sri Lanka.  The plants are kept pruned to about 4 ft (1.2 m) tall and flowers are rarely produced.                                                       


There are two basic varieties of Tea.  The typical variety (var. sinensis) is probably native to western China. It has been cultivated for centuries, mostly in plantations in China and at high elevations in tropical southern Asia. More recently it is being cultivated in other areas of the world with suitable mild and humid climates. Assam tea, the tea featured here, (var. assamica) occurs naturally in tropical and subtropical southeastern Asia and is cultivated extensively in India and Sri Lanka.

Tea Culture

Light: Seedlings and young tea plants should be shaded; mature plants produce best in full sun. 
Moisture: Tea plants need plenty of moisture. They do best in rather humid climates.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. Tea plants do best in a cool, but frost-free climate. They can, however, withstand light freezes when dormant.


Tea Usage

The process for making black tea originated in China, and was transplanted by the British to India and then Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the last century, and to Kenya and Mauritius in this century.  Like Coffee plants, tea plants (camelia assamica) like hot days, cool nights, and plenty of rain.  With the exception of Assam, most teas are grown in mountainous regions. During the growing season, tea is harvested every seven days.

The tender young leaves from tea plants are plucked and variously "fermented" (actually oxidized - no yeast or microbes are involved), then dried to make green, black or oolong teas. Green tea is made from fresh leaves that are steamed and wilted, then dried immediately. Black tea is made from leaves that are wilted and crushed in rollers, then allowed to oxidize for several hours before they are dried.

Only the two tender uppermost leaves and terminal buds are plucked by hand.  After this gentle beginning, the leaves are left in hot rooms to wither and then put through a roller to release their juices.  

These juices react with the air (oxidation) and turn the leaves black and impart a flavor we love.  The teas is then dried in ovens and graded accordingly to size.  This grading process gives rise to those confusing initial:



                           OP            Orange Pekoe

                           BP            Broken Pekoe

                           BOP         Broken Orange Pekoe

                           CTC         Curl Twist and Cut

                           FTGFOP  Fancy Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe

Generally the more initials, the finer the tea.



Black Teas


Oolong tea comes from leaves that are only partially oxidized before drying. Black teas are graded by the size of the particles. This is important since larger pieces take longer to brew.

Pekoe teas are supposedly the highest quality black teas, made from the youngest, "first flush" of leaves. Orange Pekoe is the best, made into long, thin, twisted leaves; regular Pekoe tea leaves are more open.

Souchong teas are black teas with larger open, coarse leaves.

India produces primarily black teas, including the full-bodied Assam tea and the delicateDarjeeling, sometimes called the "champagne of teas."

Earl Grey is a black tea flavored with oil of bergamot (a type of sour orange, Citrus aurantium). Teas are sometimes flavored with jasmine flowers, orange blossoms (Citrus sinensis), rose petals, apples or mangos.



Green Teas


Green Teas are graded based on the age of the leaves and the method of preparation.

Gunpowder teas consist of little tightly rolled balls of young leaves; they produce a pale-colored green tea known for its sharp, distinctive flavor.

Imperial is like Gunpowder but with larger, looser pieces of leaf.


Tea and Health

Tea, as a beverage, was introduced into Europe during the middle of 16th century. By the 1700's it began to replace beer as the beverage of choice at breakfast.

Today it is prized for more than its use as a beverage. Recent research has given evidence that tea contains components that inhibit tooth decay. Other findings indicate that green tea properties aid digestion, help to ward off cancers, and that people who drink at least one cup of tea a day have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. 

Green tea contains more flavanols, flavandiols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, which are antioxidant in nature than any other fruit or vegetable. 

Polyphenols are members of the flavonoid family. Each of these structures has chemicals attached to it called phenol groups. These compounds account for up to 30% of the dry weight of green tea leaves. Most of the polyphenols present in green tea are flavanols, commonly known as catechins made of several ring-like structures.

The major catechins present in green tea are:


·          epicatechin (EC)

·          epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG)

·          epigallocatechin (EGC)

·          epigallocatechin-3-gallate

·          (EGCG)




Antioxidants are the chemicals endowed with the ability to counteract the adverse effects of damaging free radicals (highly unstable molecules) produced in the body by normal metabolism and by exposure to radiation, chemicals and heavy metals.  Free radicals damage cells, proteins and fats in the body, theoretically causing a wide range of diseases including the aging process.  By trapping these oxidant radicals, the antioxidants reduce their effective bio-availability. This represents a highly efficient built-in preventive machinery within a living cell. The water-extract of the dry tea leaves, as is consumed by humans, contains many compounds including a mixture of polyphenols.


The major polyphenolic antioxidants present in black tea are:


·          theaflavins such as theaflavin-3-gallatetheaflavin-3'-gallae, theaflavin-3,3'-digallate

·          thearubigens and their derivatives such as theafulvins and theacitrins

·          tannins such as pentagalloylglucose and camelliatanin A.

Many studies have shown that green tea, either consumed internally or applied directly to the body, can protect lab animals against breast, colon, skin, liver, stomach, pancreas, prostrate and esophagus cancers. It appears that tea can kill or slow the growth of cancer cells while leaving normal cells unscathed.  Some studies have shown that tea consumption may reduce the risk of stroke. In one study it was found that a long-term administration of either 0.5% EGCG or 0.5% persimmon tannin to SHRSP inhibited the incidence of stroke and prolonged the life span.

Green teas have been studied the most, but black and oolong teas may be just as effective. To get the most benefit, steep tea bags for a full five minutes in boiled water.


Brewing Your Own Fresh Tea

Boil Water and allow it to settle for 3 minutes

Add half a teaspoon (2-3 grams) of green tea

steep for 3 minutes and then pour

can be flavored with Ginger

can also be refrigerated and enjoyed cold





Our plants were grown from Ceylon seed planted in late April 2004.  They are18 inches and above and will do well if kept indoors in colder climates.  Unlike the plants in the Badulla District of Sri Lanka, all of our plants have borne flowers and seed since 2005.  

We offer our plants  for $25.00 + 7.50 shipping @.



(334) 669-5240

Tea Plants

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