We do enjoy a cup of tea – be it black or green; not unusual I know. But we were quite surprised to learn that we have the tea bush in the grounds here at Bendles. All the visuals were happening; drying the leaves and making green, black or white tea of our very own. Obviously there is a little more involved, so decided it would be safer to buy the product I know is safe and tastes good.
The plant is camellia sinensis; the tea plant, bush, or tree, is an evergreen shrub that thrives most comfortably in forest areas. It sports glossy green leaves, very similar in appearance to that of bay leaves, with serrated edges. Its flowers are white with yellow centres, very fragrant and up to 4cm in diameter, with 5 petals. The fruit, while not used in tea, is a 3-angled capsule with 3 seeds, and sometimes used to make a tea oil in some parts of Asia. Many tea drinkers may be surprised to know that the tea bush can be found in many home gardens!
Almost every non-herbal tea comes from the camellia sinensis species’ leaves and leaf buds, with each of its varieties and characteristics (known as terrior) helping to define the tea that results.
There are two varieties of the tea bush that are responsible for the tea we know and love:
Camellia sinensis sinensis, or Chinese Tea, is used to make sweeter, gentler teas – such as green and white tea – and grows most comfortably in cooler temperatures and higher elevation. The shorter growing seasons in mountainous regions causes the crop to be smaller, and harvest the younger, sweeter leaves.
In contrast, camellia sinensis assamica, known as Assam Tea or Indian Tea, is grown in warmer, more tropical areas. It produces a more robust plant for darker teas, such as Oolong, Pu-erh and black tea.
We do offer a range of tea’s at Bendles Cottages – just not our own as yet!