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From Shrub to Cup: How Camellia Sinensis Makes the Tea We Love

Camellia sinensis
Camellia sinensis

Most of us enjoy a cup of tea every now and again, but how many of us know where this delicious beverage comes from? Tea originates from a plant called Camellia sinensis. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at this plant and how it's used to make the tea we love.

Camellia sinensis is a shrub that is native to Asia. The leaves and young shoots of the plant are used to make tea. There are two main varieties of Camellia sinensis: var. sinensis, which is native to China, and var. assamica, which is native to India. Sri Lanka's climate is well suited for growing both types of tea plant. As a result, Sri Lankan tea plantations produce a wide variety of teas.

These two varieties of Camellia sinensis are used to create different types of tea. For example, var. sinensis is used to produce green tea, while var. Assamica is used to produce black tea.

Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub or small tree that can grow to be about 2 metres tall. It has dark green, glossy leaves and white flowers with yellow stamens. The tea plant is usually pruned to waist height to make it easier to harvest the leaves.

Tea plants will grow in a wide range of climates, but they prefer humid conditions with plenty of rainfall and moderate temperatures. They can be planted in either full sun or partial shade. The soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter.

The tea plant has been used for centuries in Asia for both its medicinal properties and as a popular beverage. Tea drinking originated in China, and the Camellia sinensis was first cultivated there for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The earliest recorded use of tea as a beverage dates back to the 3rd century AD, when it was mentioned in a Chinese medical text.

Tea quickly gained popularity throughout Asia, and by the 8th century, it had become a staple in the daily lives of people across the continent. Tea drinking eventually spread to Europe and the Americas through trade and colonisation. Today, tea is consumed all over the world and is enjoyed by people of all ages.

You may not know this, but the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is actually a member of the flowering plant family Theaceae. Theaceae includes other flowering plants such as jasmine, and it's thought that Camellia sinensis originated in what are now the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China.

The leaves of Camellia sinensis are picked by hand and then withered, a process that removes moisture from the leaves. The withered leaves are then rolled and fired, which stops them from oxidising further. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that causes the leaves to turn brown and results in the development of flavours such as sweetness, bitterness, and astringency. Black tea undergoes fuller oxidation than green tea, which results in its darker colour and stronger flavour.

After firing, the leaves are then sorted and graded according to their size and quality. The leaves are then packaged and shipped all over the world so that we can enjoy a cup of tea! Every year, over 3 million tons of tea leaves are produced from this humble plant!

Interestingly, while all teas come from the same plant, the way they are processed results in very different kinds of tea. For example, black teas are fermented whereas green teas are not. Oolong teas are semi-fermented, meaning they undergo a partial fermentation process. The different processing methods result in very different flavours for each type of tea.

We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about Camellia sinensis and how it's used to make the tea we love! Next time you take a sip of your favourite beverage, remember the humble shrub that it all started with.


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