THE PLANT: The Camellia Sinensis plant, an evergreen shrub tree, is the first known tea plant. It prefers a warm and humid climate in altitudes between 1000 and 2000 meters. The wild plant can reach heights of up to 15 meters. In the tea plantations however its height is being limited to 1.20 m in order to facilitate the processing.
THE LOCATION: The tea plant does not like to stand in water and is therefore growing on hillsides and slopes where the rain water can easily drain off. It does however need the regular rainfalls of the tropical climate.
THE BREEDING: Cuttings are the way to propagate tea plants. A small branch is taken from the parent plant and it takes 4 to 5 years for the seeding to be ready for the first harvesting.
THE CLIMATE: The seeding is growing and flourishing depending on the climate conditions of the region and often permits to harvest several times a year. In Japan for instance the tea is being picked four times a year, from spring to autumn. In Indonesia harvest is done all year long. In general harvesting is done by hand.
THE HARVEST: The buds and the leaves below the buds are the ones being collected. There are three different types of harvesting:
The imperial tea harvest (or standard harvest) means picking the bud and the first leave of the plant, the result being a tea of the highest quality.
The fine tea harvest (or medium harvest) means picking the bud as well as the first and the second leave.
The average tea harvest (or raw harvest) allows collecting three to four leaves next to the bud resulting in a tea of the lowest quality.
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