Grow Your Own Tea with the Compact Brew-Tea-Ful Camellia

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Virtues: Brew-Tea-Ful is a compact shrub that can be used to make five types of tea at home: green tea, white tea, black tea, flower tea and oolong tea. It has evergreen leaves and white flowers that occur in the fall. While other tea plants need some shade during the day, Brew-Tea-Ful is happiest in full sun. Its small size (just about a foot tall and wide) makes it a good container plant.

BrewTeaFulCamellia

Common name: Brew-Tea-Ful green camellia

Botanical name: Camellia sinensis Brew-Tea-Ful

Exposure: Full sun

Flowers: White blossoms appear in the fall. They are smaller than those of ornamental camellias, and not as showy, but they have a similar shape and structure. Like the leaves, they can be used to make tea.

Foliage: The dark green, glossy, narrow oval leaves are evergreen. The edge of each leaf is serrated. 

Habit: Brew-Tea-Ful has an upright, narrow habit, reaching 12 to 15 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide.

Origin: Camellia sinensis is native to Southeast Asia, including northern India and southern China. Brew-Tea-Ful is a cultivar bred by John Robb in Australia and introduced to the US retail market by Ball Seed in 2021.

How to grow it: Site in full sun. This plant needs good drainage, regular moisture and it prefers a somewhat acidic soil. If your native soil is not acidic, consider growing this compact shrub in a container, using an acidic potting Provide consistent moisture, especially in the heat of summer. mix, such as that formulated for azaleas, or adding peat moss to an all-purpose potting mix. To harvest the leaves, simply pinch off the growing tips, being certain to include a portion of stem plus two to ficve leaves. Separate the leaves and dry them. The type of tea you make will depend on the time of harvest and how you treat or blend the leaves once dried. USDA Zones 7–11.

Image credit: Courtesy of Ball Seed

Further reading: 

Here's additional information on tea plants plus how to dry the leaves: "Backyard Tea" at the American Camellia Society's website.

Read about North American native plants used for making tea: "Tea Plants Native to North America" on hortmag.com.

To learn all the ins and outs of growing tea plants and making your own tea blends at home, read Grow Your Own Tea by Christine Parks and Susan Walcott.