As any regular reader knows, here at Edge Hill Herb Farm we grow all our own herbs in our greenhouses. We also grow fruits and vegetables. Now, we have decided to start growing tea plants as well.
This came about after reading an article on a different site. I can’t remember the site, to be honest. I want to say it was Let’s Drink Tea, but I don’t believe it was. I’m a regular reader of that site, because I love all their matcha recipes and the buying guides for various teapots and electric kettles and, of course, for all the tea recommendations. But I just checked and I didn’t see an article on there about growing your own tea. It must have been a different site.
Wherever I saw it, I really liked the idea. I try to make sure all my tea is organic and healthy, but that is difficult to do. You really never know what you’re buying, no matter what the label says. This is especially true from for tea from countries like China or India. In addition to those countries, a lot of tea imported to the West comes from Sri Lanka and from Kenya. Really, the only tea growing country where I trust the labels is Japan. Even tea from the US, which is grown in Hawaii, simply doesn’t strike me as trustworthy. There too many stories of corruption with the FDA and other groups like it.
For that reason, it seems to me that growing your own tea is a great solution. Sure, you can get all your tea from Japan, but they really only do green tea very well. Personally, while I love green tea, I also love a good black tea or oolong tea and those do not really grow in Japan. That’s not true, actually, since it’s the same plant, but the Japanese don’t process the leaves into those types of tea. They basically process the vast majority of their tea plants into green tea. So, if like me, you really want a truly organic oolong tea or black tea, the only way to ensure you’re getting that is to grow your own.
What we did here is set aside a decently sized corner of our greenhouse for these tea plants. We ordered a specific strain from Japan, that is said to be one of the best. We’ll see about that. We decided to grow the tea indoors, because our area here does not have the right kind of climate for tea. It would probably work, but the plants would not thrive and the resulting tea leaves would not taste as good when brewed.
We just started, so it is too early to see to say how it will go. Basically, we are using the same grow light set up as we’ve already been using for our herbs. Tea does not flower, so we really don’t need anything different. In fact, sunlight will work fine for part of the year, but in the winter months we obviously have to supplement the sunlight with horticultural lights.
I realize there is not really much more to tell about our tea garden, but that will hopefully change soon. So stay tuned, because we will update you here on the progress of our tea plants. Hopefully a few months from now, we will be able to harvest the first leaves and turn them into actual tea.
I’ve already got my hands on several books on how to process tea leaves and it actually seems pretty easy. There are a few different methods, but none of them seem too difficult. But we’ll get to that when the time comes to harvest. For now, I just wanted to let you know that we’ve embarked on this project. Wish us luck!