Did you know that tea has been grown in the UK for hundreds of years? Neither did we however as a company who loves their tea as much as their British heritage, we thought that we would see if it can be grown at home. It can!
All a tea plant needs to thrive in our British weather is a bright sunny location acidic soil.
This article will talk you through how to grow your own tea at home.
Growing tea from a seed
Tea seeds known as Camellia Sinensis can be bought from most garden centres or online. If you have access to a greenhouse or a grow house which you can control the temperature and light levels then this will allow your tea plants to grow happily for the first few years. Here is how to grow tea from a seed:
Stage 1: Germination
Germination of the tea seeds will take around 6 weeks
- Soak seeds in water overnight the night before planting
- Using a well drained acidic soil plant the seeds in an an old egg box directly into egg shells or seed tray and leave in a shaded spot untill they begin to sprout
- Keep the soil moist but not wet, the best way to do this is using a spray water bottle
- Once the seeds have sprouted you can move the seeds to a sunny spot either on a windowcil or in a greenhouse
Stage 2: Planting
- When the roots have started to develop transfer the seedlings to a large container where they will stay for the next few years as it gets established
- Carefully remove the seedlings from the tray, if using an egg shells they can go directly into the soil
- Make sure that the containers have lots of drainage holes in the bottom and create a moisture layer using unused nappys
- Fill the container with well drained, acidic soil.
Growing tea from a plant
Another way of getting started growing tea is by getting a small tea plant. They can be grown outside during the warmer months, however they will need a winter home for the first 2 or three years. This can be in a small grow house or a greenhouse depending on the space that you have. Here is how to grow tea from a plant.
- When you bring home your tea plant don’t re-pot straight away, water it and place in a nice sunny spot and leave for a couple of days
- Tea plants are best kept in containers, re-pot your plant in a container with acidic soil and place in a spot with lots fo sunlight and light shade
- In the Spring time you’ll need to harvest the young leaves ( for green tea) and feed once a month with a general liquid plant food
Harvesting your tea
The whole reason that you have spent time caring for your tea plant is to be able to have your own homegrown tasty tea to drink. Here we explain how to harvest your tea plant
Picking the leaves
It is the young new growth leaves that you want to harvest to make tea. The best way is to look at the top of the stalks and choose the very top 2-3 leaves, these leaves will be a brighter green in contrast to the rest.
Drying and processing
It is at this stage where you can make either white, black or green tea. Tea leaves need to be dried before they can be used. Drying tea leaves at home is a simple process and most people will use an oven at a low temperature or a home dehydrator
Drying tea leaves at home
For black tea
- Bruise the leaves using either your hands or a pestle and mortar until they begin to loose colour – this gives the tea it’s black colour
- Spread the leaves out in a single layer and air dry for a couple of days until they are nearly dry
- Place the leaves in an oven at 100 degrees C for roughly 30 minutes
- Once completely dry, place in a airtight jar and label it
For green tea
- Steam the leaves and buds by placing them in a colliander over a saucepan. They only need to be steamed for 2-3 minutes
- Roll up the leaves using your hands or a suci mat if you have one
- Leave to dry in an airing cupboard until completely dry and crispy
- Finally you have a few jars of your own tea leaves, now it’s time to make them drinkable!
- Using a pestle and mortar grind 10-15 tea leaves into a coarse grain
- Then place the leaves in a tea strainer and off you go. You could also buy your own unbleached tea bags.
There you have it, a guide on how to grow and harvest your own tea at home. Have you started growing your own tea? Let us know in the comments below.