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Camellia sinensis - (L.)Kuntze.

Common Name Tea Plant, Assam tea, Tea Tree Camellia
Family Theaceae
USDA hardiness 7-9
Known Hazards Care in patients with heart disease and in those with increased thyroid gland activity. Do not exceed 300mg/day if Pregnant (5 cups). Children may develop anaemia if excessive amounts. Hapatitis possible if products have high doses of green tea extract. Long-term intake over 1.5g caffeine per day can lead to: restlessness, irritability, sleeplessness, palpitations, vertigo, headaches, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea [301].
Habitats Shaded areas[192] at an elevation of 2100 - 2700 metres in Yunnan[11].
Range E. Asia - China? Exact origin is uncertain.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade
Camellia sinensis Tea Plant, Assam tea, Tea Tree Camellia

Camellia sinensis Tea Plant, Assam tea, Tea Tree Camellia


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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Early spring, Early winter, Late fall, Late spring, Late winter, Mid fall, Mid spring, Mid winter. Also known as:: BLACK TEA: Black Leaf Tea, Camellia thea, Camellia theifera, Chinese Tea, English Tea, Feuille de Thé Noir, Té Negro, Tea, Thé Anglais, Thé Noir, Thea bohea, Thea sinensis, Thea viridis, Theaflavin, Théaflavine. GREEN TEA: Green Sencha Tea, Green Tea Extract, Japanese Tea, Kunecatechins, Té Verde, Tea, Tea Extract, Tea Green, Thé de Camillia, Thé Japonais, Thé Vert, Thé Vert de Yame, Thé Vert Sensha, Thea bohea, Thea sinensis, Thea viridis, Yame Green Tea, Yame Tea. Form: Oval.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Camellia sinensis is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 2.5 m (8ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8. It is in leaf all year, in flower from March to May. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. bohea. C. thea. C. theifera. Thea sinensis. Thea viridis.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil  Oil  Shoots
Edible Uses: Colouring  Condiment  Oil  Oil  Tea

The leaves are infused in hot water and used as the drink that is commonly known as tea. It is widely drunk in many areas of the world. Green tea is made from the steamed and dried leaves, whilst black tea (the form most commonly drunk in the west) is made from leaves that have been fermented and then dried[183, 238]. Tea contains polyphenols, these are antioxidants that help to protect the body against heart diseases, stroke and cancer[238]. It also contains the stimulant caffeine which, when taken in excess, can cause sleeplessness and irritability and also, through its action as a diuretic, act to remove nutrients from the body. Tea is also rich in tannin and is a possible cause of oesophageal cancer[238]. Cold tea is sometimes used as a soaking liquid to flavour dried fruit[238]. One report says that the leaves are used as a boiled vegetable[179]. The leaves contain about 25.7% protein, 6.5% fat, 40.8% carbohydrate, 5% ash, 3.3% caffeine, 12.9% tannin[179]. Terminal sprouts with 2-3 leaves are usually hand-plucked, 10 kg of green shoots (75-80% water) produce about 2.5 kg dried tea[269]. The bushes are plucked every 7-15 days, depending on the development of the tender shoots. Leaves that are slow in development always make a better flavoured product[269]. Various techniques are used to produce black teas, usually during July and August when solar heat is most intense. Freshly picked leaves are spread very thinly and evenly on trays and placed in the sun until the leaves become very flaccid, requiring 13 hours or more, depending on heat and humidity. Other types of black teas are made by withering the leaves, rolling them into a ball and allowing to ferment in a damp place for 3-6 hours, at which time the ball turns a yellowish copper colour, with an agreeable fruity one[269]. If this stage goes too far, the leaves become sour and unfit for tea. After fermenting, the ball is broken up and the leaves spread out on trays and dried in oven until leaves are brittle and have slight odour of tea[269]. Tea is then stored in air-tight tin boxes or cans. As soon as harvested, leaves are steamed or heated to dry the natural sap and prevent oxidation to produce green tea. Still soft and pliable after the initial treatment, the leaves are then rolled and subjected to further firing. Thus dried, the leaves are sorted into various grades of green tea[269]. The flowers are made into 'tempura' using the edible oil that is obtained from the seed[183]. A clear golden-yellow edible oil resembling sasanqua oil is obtained from the seed[183, 269]. The oil needs to be refined before it is eaten. An essential oil distilled from the fermented dried leaves is used as a commercial food flavouring[238]. Tea extract is used as a flavour in alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatines, and puddings[269]. Tea is a potential source of food colours (black, green, orange, yellow, etc.)[269].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 25.7g; Fat: 6.5g; Carbohydrate: 40.8g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 5g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ ]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidiarrhoeal  Antiemetic  Astringent  Cardiotonic  Diuretic  Dysentery  Stimulant

The tea plant is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs[218]. Modern research has shown that there are many health benefits to drinking tea, including its ability to protect the drinker from certain heart diseases. It has also been shown that drinking tea can protect the teeth from decay[254], because of the fluoride naturally occurring in the tea[K]. However, the tea also contains some tannin, which is suspected of being carcinogenic[269]. The leaves are cardiotonic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and astringent[4, 174, 192, 218, 240, 269]. They exert a decided influence over the nervous system, giving a feeling of comfort and exhilaration, but also producing an unnatural wakefulness when taken in large doses[4]. They are used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis and gastro-enteritis[218, 238]. Tea is reportedly effective in clinical treatment of amoebic dysentery, bacterial dysentery, gastro-enteritis, and hepatitis. It has also been reported to have antiatherosclerotic effects and vitamin P activity[269]. Excessive use, however, can lead to dizziness, constipation, constipation, indigestion, palpitations and insomnia[238]. Externally, they are used as a poultice or wash to treat cuts, burns, bruises, insect bites, ophthalmia, swellings etc[218, 238, 257]. Only the very young leaves and leaf buds are used, these can be harvested throughout the growing season from plants over three years old and are dried for later use[238]. Teabags have been poulticed onto baggy or tired eyes, compressed onto headache, or used to bathe sunburn[269].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Essential  Oil  Oil  Tannin  Wood

An essential oil is distilled from the fermented and dried leaves[238]. It is used in perfumery and in commercial food flavouring[238]. A non-drying oil is obtained from the seeds. Refined teaseed oil, made by removing the free fatty acids with caustic soda, then bleaching the oil with Fuller's earth and a sprinkling of bone black, makes an oil suitable for use in manufacture of sanctuary or signal oil for burning purposes, and in all respects is considered a favourable substitute for rapeseed, olive, or lard oils. The oil is different from cottonseed, corn, or sesame oils in that it is a non-drying oil and is not subject to oxidation changes, thus making it very suitable for use in the textile industry; it remains liquid below -18deg.C[269]. A grey dye is obtained from the pink or red petals[168]. The leaves contain 13 - 18% tannin[223]. The leaves also contain quercetin, a dyestuff that, when found in other plants, is much used as a dye[223]. The quantity of quercetin is not given[K]. Wood - moderately hard, close and even grained. It is very good for walking sticks[158].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses: Specimen. Prefers a woodland soil but thrives in a warm open well-drained loam if leafmould is added[1, 11, 200]. A calcifuge plant, preferring a pH between 5 and 7[11, 200]. Prefers the partial shade of a light woodland or a woodland clearing[166, 200]. Forms grown in this country are slow-growing[219]. Tea is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 70 to 310cm, an average annual temperature range of 14 to 27°C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 7.3[269]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[200]. It prefers a wet summer and a cool but not very frosty dry winter[200]. The fragrant flowers are very attractive to insects, particularly moths[219]. Plants are not very self-compatible, self-fertilized flowers produce few seeds and these are of low viability[200]. A very ornamental plant[1], it is widely cultivated in tropical and warm temperate areas for its leaves which are used to make China tea[1]. There are many named varieties[183] and new hardier forms are being produced in China for growing in colder areas of the country[260]. The Chinese form, known as 'Hsüeh-ch'a', is said to grow in areas within the snow limit on the mountains of Lingchiangfu in Yunnan province[178]. The sub-species C. sinensis assamica. (Mast.)Kitam. is a larger plant, growing up to 17 metres tall. It is a more tropical form of the species, is intolerant of frost and does not succeed outdoors in Britain[11, 260]. Special Features:Not North American native, Blooms are very showy.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - can be sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[113]. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water and the hard covering around the micropyle should be filed down to leave a thin covering[78, 113, 138]. It usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 23°c[138]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are more than 15cm tall and give them some protection from winter cold for their first year or three outdoors[K]. Seedlings take 4 - 12 years before they start to produce seed[269]. There are approximately 500 seeds per kilo[269]. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 10 - 15cm with a heel, August/September in a shaded frame. High percentage but slow[78]. Cuttings of firm wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, end of June in a frame[11, 78]. Keep in a cool greenhouse for the first year[11]. Leaf-bud cuttings, July/August in a frame.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cha, Chai, Chiya, Chashu, Laphet, Perdu teh, Pokok cha, Pokok teh, Thayili, Theyaku, Tra,

Native Range

TEMPERATE ASIA: China (Guangdong Sheng, Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu, Yunnan Sheng (south)) TROPICAL ASIA: India (Assam), Indochina, Myanmar (north), Thailand (north)

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Camellia biflora Shrub9.0 -  LMSNM20 
Camellia chekiangoleosaCamelliaShrub6.0 7-10  LMSNM20 
Camellia gracilisCamelliaShrub4.0 -  LMSNM20 
Camellia japonicaCamellia, Common Camellia, Japanese CamelliaShrub10.0 7-9 SLMFSNM322
Camellia kissi Shrub12.0 7-10  LMSNM22 
Camellia oleiferaTea-Oil Plant, Tea Oil CamelliaShrub4.0 6-9 SLMSNM222
Camellia pitardii Shrub7.0 7-10  LMSNM20 
Camellia polyodonta Shrub4.5 7-10  LMSNM20 
Camellia reticulataTo-tsubakiShrub10.0 7-10  LMSNM301
Camellia sasanquaCamellia, Sasanqua camelliaShrub3.0 7-9 SLMSNM314
Camellia semiserrata Shrub12.0 7-10  LMSNM20 
Camellia sinensis assamicaTea Plant, Assam TeaShrub10.0 8-10 SLMHSNM443
Camellia yunnanensis Shrub3.6 7-10  LMSNM20 
Stewartia pseudocamelliaJapanese StewartiaTree15.0 4-7 SLMHSNM102

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

ed kucinsky   Fri Nov 4 2005

this page was comprehensive, very nice except that it is virtually impossible to obtain tea trees to grow yourself. in searching , i found only supplier that had tea tree seeds (if you want to wait ten to twenty years until they mature). If this is such a commonplace and useful plant where can i get one for my home garden? ed kucinsky ([email protected]).

ed kucinsky   Fri Nov 4 2005

this page was comprehensive, very nice except that it is virtually impossible to obtain tea trees to grow yourself. in searching , i found only supplier that had tea tree seeds (if you want to wait ten to twenty years until they mature). If this is such a commonplace and useful plant where can i get one for my home garden? ed kucinsky ([email protected]).

Raja   Tue Nov 15 2005

What is the incompatibility mechanism of Tea?

[email protected]   Wed Dec 7 2005

this page is all very nice except there is no information on where to obtain camellia sinensis plants or seeds. If any readers do know, would you please post the information.

Joanne Martin   Sat Jan 7 2006

I bought some camellia sinensis seeds from Jungle Seeds and Gardens - www.junglegardens.co.uk

Sells seeds including tea,

Leilah   Mon Sep 18 2006

Horizon Herbs sells the seeds as well.

Horizon Herbs

Lee Barns   Thu Jan 4 2007

Why don't you mention anything about the terrible amount of pesticides and herbicides which are used to keep up with the economic demand?

   Thu Jun 14 2007

I was recently told that strong tea can act as a remedy for chilli burns. This is from an email I was sent: “The tannins in tea latch on to the same pain receptors as capsicum, and form a stronger bond than the chilli, thereby displacing it and causing the burning sensation to ease.” I had half a cupful of tea that had been stewing in a pot for a few hours so tried it on my chilli-burned fingers. I tipped it in to a bowl and dunked my fingers. The relief was immediate but I kept my fingers in for 20 minutes and then let them dry naturally. As soon as they had dried the burning sensation came back again, but after another five minutes or so it went off and didn’t return, leaving only a slight feeling of sensitivity for a day or two. It's worth a go.

h   Fri Sep 14 2007

Under 'edible uses' where it says: "It is widely drunk in many areas of the world." I believe that is poor grammar and should be: "It is widely DRANK in many areas of the world."

najib yahaya   Mon Mar 3 2008

i have to commend this site becouse of your good effort to explore ares of great beneficiary benefit yo hmanity.this tea have been used for so many centuries and yet is only of recent that people try realise the medicinal benefit,soi having to tell u a great well job on your effort to explore these benefits.

David Nicholls   Mon Apr 14 2008

Edible friut on Tea tree? According to the book "Drugs and food from little known plants. Notes in the Harvard University Herberia" Camellia sinensis var assamica (a common variety (in India at least)) has "edible friut". I think the book is more for research than guarantees of ediblity. I've not sampled it yet. I did sample another unknown Camellia friut (as big as apples) mainly because everyone else was convinced it was a crab apple, I put a little on the tip of my tounge, it stung my mouth for about an hour, it may not have been ripe. The book also says Camellia kissi has edible fruit.

   Fri May 2 2008

Any idea where I can buy tea or coffee plants?


[email protected]   Sat Sep 27 2008

I was also looking to buy some of these plants in the end I when to a company in Devon that grows tea! I can't remember the name of the company but if you go to the tea and coffee magazine and do a search you should bring them up. Hope this helps


Miss THET HNIN AYE   Tue Dec 16 2008

Dear Sir, I wanna to know how long does it take to propagate tea plantthrough tissue culture technique.

leonora rosales   Thu Mar 26 2009

sir,,may know how much of the green tea that those tannins are active when it it is taken? ?or how much in the green tea juice one may drik that those properties are not present/(tannins are said to be carcinogenic)

   Tue Aug 18 2009

i have successfully grown tea cuttings in plugs made of organic composted pine bark. they take a great deal of time to root and grow and require high humidity. i kept mine under a glass jar with pencils underneath to allow minimal airflow. never tried to propagate them by seed.

gezai   Tue Oct 20 2009

I am a teacher in university of Samara, Ethiopia in the Department of Horticulture.I appreciate your work here, and i will be happy if you provide me with the latest information about agriculture,especially medicinal use of plants, Spice & herb,etc

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