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Camellia sinensis
Csinensis.jpg
Camellia sinensis
Scientific classification
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Binomial name
Camellia sinensis
Camellia sinensis MHNT.BOT.2016.12.24
Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, is the species of plant whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea. It is in the genus Camellia.

White tea, green tea, oolong, pu-erh tea and black tea are all got from this species. They are processed differently, so they have different levels of oxidation. Kukicha (twig tea) is also harvested from Camellia sinensis, but uses twigs and stems rather than leaves.

Description

Camellia sinensis is native to East, South and Southeast Asia, but it is today cultivated across the world in tropical and subtropical regions.

Camellia Sinensis is an evergreen shrub or small tree that is usually trimmed to below 2 m (6.6 ft) when cultivated for its leaves. It has a strong taproot. The flowers are yellow-white, 2.5–4 cm (0.98–1.57 in) in diameter, with 7 to 8 petals.

The seeds of Camellia sinensis and Camellia oleifera can be pressed to yield tea oil, a sweetish seasoning and cooking oil that should not be confused with tea tree oil, an essential oil that is used for medical and cosmetic purposes, and originates from the leaves of a different plant.

Cultivation

Camellia sinensis is mainly cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates, in areas with at least 127 cm. (50 inches) of rainfall a year. Tea plants prefer a rich and moist growing location in full to part sun, and can be grown in hardiness zones 7 - 9. However, the clonal one is commercially cultivated from the equator to as far north as Cornwall on the UK mainland. Many high quality teas are grown at high elevations, up to 1,500 meters (4,900 feet), as the plants grow more slowly and acquire more flavour.

Tea plants will grow into a tree if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking. Two principal varieties are used, the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C. sinensis sinensis) and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis assamica), used mainly for black tea.

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