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tea facts about tea plant


For years, I never knew that white, green and black tea all came from the same plant!  I thought that they grew three types of plants, in order to provide tea lovers with the different tea varieties!  And I was amazed to learn that tea comes from a bush that is a cousin to the Camellia plant, Camellia japonica regularly found growing in gardens around the world!   It wasn’t until I began my Crazy Tea Lady journey, that I began to discover some amazing facts about my favourite beverage!

The tea tree is an evergreen that grows to a height of 5 to 15 metres.  Its leaves measure between 5mm and 25cms are characterized by a shiny upper surface, with a lighter matt underside.  The plant is cultivated, not for its fruit or seeds, but for the bud and two new leaves below it.  The bud and new leaves are plucked regularly, making up the harvest.

There are two main varieties:

  • Camellia senensis sinensis
  • Camellia senensis assamica

They are mostly grown between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.  The plant itself requires temperatures of 10-30 degrees centigrade, and 1000-1250mm rain per year.  This means that most of the tea production in the world occurs in China and India, but also Japan, Africa, South & Central America, Sri Lanka, Taiwan.   Australia does have several tea growing regions, in Queensland and Victoria.  And yes, we even have tea grown right here in WA, at a plantation in Northcliffe near Manjimup.  And I am lucky enough to be a stockiest of this beautiful green tea.  

Go to http://www.southernforestgreentea.com.au and check out the pictures of this beautiful plantation!

locally grown green tea

Types of Tea

There are three main types of tea, all derived from the Camellia senensis plant.

  1. White

This is the least processed and oxidized.

It is withered and dried immediately after plucking – which prevents oxidation

Because the leaves undergo the least processing, they are the most delicate of all.

White tea is high in antioxidents, as it contains high levels of polyphenols that stop free radicals

  • Green

The leaves are steamed or fired (dried) after plucking to prevent oxidation, then rolled. 

  • Black

The leaves are heavily processed, which includes withering, rolling, and oxidation.  The result is one hundred per cent oxidized leaves, with the characteristic black colour.

Processing and Caffeine Levels

Although white, green and black tea originates from the same plant, their caffeine levels are considerably different.  The more processed the leaves, the greater the caffeine level.

Beverage
Caffeine Per 250ml Serve
White Tea
30-55 mg
Green Tea
35-70 mg
Oolong Tea (between 25% and 75% oxidised)
50-75 mg
Black Tea
60-90 mg
Coffee100 mg

It is interesting to note that your average chocolate bar contains approximately 10 mg of caffeine!

However the caffeine in tea acts differently from coffee

  • It is not as fast releasing
  • You don’t get that sharp high
  • The caffeine interacts with the amino acids in tea, so that when it hits our brains, it sends us into relaxation mode!!

It is little wonder that it is the second most consumed beverage in the world!

Happy sipping!

Crazy Tea Lady

Reference: “The Tea Drinkers Handbook” by Francois-Xavier Delmas, Mathias Minet and Christine Barbaste

green tea Western Australia
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