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Camellia sinensis

Family: Theaceae | Place of Origin: Southeast Asia

Origins and history:   

Camellia Sinensis has been domesticated for about 3,000 years and originates from South-East Asia, specifically the Assam, Southern and Central China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand region. Currently, an estimated 67% of the world’s teas are grown in India, China, and Sri Lanka. Most production of these teas will be used for tea bags and beverages. Tea is highly incorporated into cultures around this area such as tea ceremonies. An example of tea drinking ceremonies include Japanese chadō. Chadō begun as a ritual for monks who drank tea for its caffeine to stay awake during long hours of meditation, currently, many regular people participate in tea ceremonies as a way to enjoy company with friends.  Chadō is a ceremony dedicated to welcoming guests with a simplistic, yet aesthetic and orderly way. It takes place in a tea house, which is a small seperated building from the main house or even a dedicated room. There is usually hanging scrolls or flowers in the corner of the room called the tokonoma along with a small fireplace used to heat the tea kettle. The host will bring in tea utensils into the room and offer a light meal usually consistenting of specially made sweets. Next, the tea is prepared from making a “thicker” tea, using pulverized camellia sinensis leaves in hot water. The tea is then consumed usually in quiet, and after consumption, the guests and hosts are free to conversate among each other concluding the ceremony.

Identification characteristics

Camellia Sinensis is recognizable by having alternating simple serrated leaves and can be found to have white, yellow, and or pink flowers. Camellia Sinensis is typically around 6 – 8 feet tall when grown in large pots. When grown outdoors, it can reach upwards of a height of 6 feet with a width of 4 – 8 feet.

Uses and preparation