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Tea is the processed leaves, leaf buds, and stems of the Camilla sinensis plant, and the beverage produced from its infusion.

By contrast, tisanes or herbal infusions are infusions that contain fruit and/ or herbs without any tea. True tea is made from several species of the Camellia sinensis plant. The method of processing the leaf is what gives us white, green, yellow, black, oolong, and puer teas.

The tea plant is a wild growing tree and when left on its own can reach heights of up to 40 feet tall or more. The tea plant is part of the evergreen family and is indigenous to Asia. The main genera from which most of our tea is made are the Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (China bush), Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Assam bush), and Camellia sinensis var. cambodi (Java bush). Today, there are many other varietals and hybrids of the above that are grown in various regions around the world. Although they come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, some cultivars are found to be more suitable to a particular type of tea.

As majority of all tea grown is cultivated in tea estates or tea gardens, the tea plant is maintained at approximately 4 feet tall, or as a bush, for ease of harvesting. Depending on the country or region, tea leaves are harvested seasonally or year round. Properly nurtured tea plants can be cultivated for over 100 years. In China’s Yunnan Province as an example, some teas are made from leaves harvested from ancient tea trees, or heirloom trees, that are centuries old.

While there are about 55 countries that currently grow and harvest tea, the five traditional countries of origin are China, Japan, India, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka.

Engage your senses! To learn more about tea, sign up for a class. Visit our Workshops & Events page for more information.

Author tgriffin

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