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Many people know tea brewed in a cup and many a plant lover holds a Camellia sinensis without knowing that this is the real tea plant. If you want to grow tea yourself, you can do this on a small scale on the windowsill or in the greenhouse. In order to grow tea plants successfully, they need good care, since a wrong location or too high a temperature leads to lower yields.

Appropriate Varieties

All of the four Camellia sinensis varieties form leaves that you can harvest, dry and brew. However, the following two have turned out to be particularly aromatic over the last millennia:

  • Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (known as "Chinese tea"): light color, light, gentle aroma
  • Camellia sinensis var. assamica (known as "Assam tea"): dark color, strong, intense aroma

These are used exclusively in commercial tea cultivation. Although there are teas of the Dehungensis and Pubilimba varieties, the aroma is not as pronounced in these. However, you can also use these if you want to grow tea plants yourself. The care of the individual varieties differs in no way.

tip: Tea from the species Camellia japonica, which is much more common in domestic gardens, is extremely rarely made. This is the only species next to Camellia sinensis and its varieties that allows an appealing aroma, but is much more intense in terms of taste and has a significantly higher caffeine content.


Growing a tea plant is not complicated once the space and temperature are right. You can grow tea plants from seeds that you can order either over the internet or from specialist retailers. If you are the proud owner of a tea plant yourself, you can easily collect the seeds yourself from August to October. These are in the pods, which you collect from the plant, break open, and then use. Once you have seeds available, do the following:

Step by step to the tea plant

1st time

You can grow tea all year round. Since Camellia sinensis is only kept as a container plant in Central Europe, it can be grown all year round.

2. Prepare seeds

Gently roughen the seed shells with a little sandpaper. These must now soak in lukewarm water for 24 hours and can then be sown in individual pots. As a substrate, use classic growing substrate and a little peat or permeable soil with peat content.

3. Sowing

Fill the pots with the substrate and moisten it well. But it shouldn't be wet. Now stick the seed one centimeter deep into the moistened substrate.

4. Location

The vessels are now placed in a place with a constant temperature of 20 °C to 25 °C. A greenhouse is particularly recommended. Alternatively, you can use cling film that you stretch over the pots.

5. Germination

Air the indoor greenhouse and pots at regular intervals over the next 14 to 40 days. During this time, the seeds will begin to germinate and you will be one step closer to your own tea.

6. Repot

Now wait a while until the seedlings are big and strong enough. Then they are transferred to fresh pots and placed in their final place in your living space.

tip: If you have bought seeds and cannot use them immediately, they should be stored in a cool refrigerator at 4°C. Make sure that the seeds are not too wet, otherwise they will become moldy and cultivation is therefore impossible.


The care of the tea plant is really easy to do by hand, as it is very easy to care for and, with the right location, only depends on the right addition of water. Even overwintering is not a problem and as long as it is not too warm and dry, the plant survives the cold season without any problems. Best of all: From April to November you have the opportunity to harvest the aromatic tea leaves on specific dates.


If you want to grow tea, the site-faithful plant needs an ideal place on the windowsill and over the summer outdoors or in the greenhouse. It is important that the Camellia sinensis is not moved afterwards, nor is it rotated, otherwise it will drop flowers and leaves due to stress. The characteristics of the site are as follows:

  • Light requirement: bright to semi-shady
  • no direct sun
  • not too warm
  • high humidity
  • sheltered from the wind

Tea plants are transported to the garden as early as spring, since an outdoor space with constant fresh air has a good effect on their growth. If you place the plant under glass, for example in a greenhouse, it needs sufficient shade and it must not be permanently hot.


As a substrate for growing the plants after germination, one with the following characteristics is required:

  • permeable
  • nutritious
  • fresh
  • lime free
  • pH value: 4.5 - 5.5 (slightly acidic)

Classic soil for potted plants has established itself particularly well for cultivation without lime get by Alternatively, a substrate made of the following components in a ratio of 1:1:1 is recommended:

  • compost (lime-free)
  • peat (sour)
  • coarse leaf soil

No matter which one you choose, the permeability will be enhanced by the addition of the following drainage agent improved:

  • expanded clay
  • grit
  • gravel (fine)
  • lava grit

You don't have to pay more attention to the substrate.

expanded clay

tip: Coconut growing media has established itself as an alternative to growing tea. This is mainly made by Neudorff and is ideal if you want to grow Camellia sinensis.


If your tea develops well, you will need to repot it every two years before new growth occurs in March. In any case, this is necessary when the soil is completely rooted. For this you use the same substrate, a slightly larger pot and a drainage layer of gravel at the bottom. This will prevent waterlogging. The older your tea gets, the less often you have to repot it.


Pruning is not necessary for tea if you harvest the small trees regularly. However, if it gets too big for your apartment, because the plant can grow between one and nine meters high, it is worth cutting. In most cases, this is necessary after four to five years in the spring, as the plant develops fewer leaves from this time. Simply shorten the growth to the desired height with sharp, disinfected scissors. Also thin out a little to encourage growth.


Tea plants only need to be watered a little, even in summer. However, you need a permanently moist substrate that must not be wet. You water regularly throughout the year, regardless of whether the plant stays in the garden during the summer months or only on the windowsill or in the conservatory. Best to check over one finger testwhether the substrate is dry. Excess water in the coaster is poured away after watering. In addition, you should regularly reach for the spray bottle and spray the tea with low-lime water, as the plant needs a permanently high level of humidity. This is also necessary in winter.


The camellia is fertilized from April to September, since that is when it is in its main vegetation phase. Use a good quality liquid for this rhododendron fertilizer, which you administer over the irrigation water every two to three weeks. Do not fertilize over the winter.


When it comes to wintering, the only thing that really matters is the right location. As soon as the first frost approaches, you should bring outdoor specimens back inside and transport them to their traditional winter quarters. This should have the following properties:

  • Temperature: 8°C - 15°C
  • Absolutely avoid temperatures above 15 °C
  • lower temperatures are briefly tolerated
  • bright
  • protect from direct sun

Conservatories, unheated rooms such as the guest room and bright corridors or stairwells that have sufficient light are particularly suitable. You should not expose the plant to high temperatures over the winter, because then it will lose its leaves and weaken over time. If it is still too dry, a pest infestation follows, mainly through spider mites. From the first new shoots at the end of March or beginning of April, you can then fertilize again and slowly get the plant used to the garden.

To harvest

The leaves can already be harvested in the first year, but it is particularly recommended in the second year, since the tea plant is already strong enough at this point. The tea leaves can be harvested at four different times of the year, which are given names that you may have come across when shopping:

  • First Flush: early March - mid-April
  • In Between: early April - mid-May
  • Second Flush: early May - late June
  • Autumnal: early October - mid-November

First flush teas deliver the highest quality. Autumnal are often less aromatic. The harvest takes place in a selected period in a rhythm of six to 14 days by simply grabbing two, preferably younger, leaves at the same time with three fingers and snapping them off. Scissors are not required. You harvest the capsule fruits of your tea plant in autumn and can then be used to grow other plants.

processing tea leaves

Once harvested, the leaves must be processed in a specific way in order to be used as a tea. The steps in typical order are:

  • wither
  • roll
  • ferment
  • dry
  • seven
  • sort by

This is how black tea is made. You have to heat green tea briefly after withering to prevent fermentation. Because that's the difference between the varieties - black tea is fermented, green tea is not. The production of white or oolong tea is different and very complex.

For home use, drying the leaves in a well-ventilated room or under the sun for a long period of time is usually sufficient. Then put it in a bamboo basket and shake it. So that the cell structures of the leaves can break open. Then leave to ferment in a dark, well-ventilated room. During fermentation, the color changes significantly and you can always try out a few leaves and decide which degree of fermentation you like the most. Alternatively, you can “sweat” the opened leaves in a plastic bag for 1-3 days. However, these should not become moldy. You can then dry the leaves and your tea is ready.

tip: If you want to try something new, you can briefly rinse freshly harvested tea leaves under clear water and then consume them without drying them. Despite their bitter taste, the leaves are not poisonous and, when fresh, contain a large number of antioxidants, vitamins and trace elements that have a positive effect on your health.

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