Plain Gardening: Tea

Plain Gardening: Tea

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The Mobile Botanical Gardens is growing a Tea Maze.  The idea, according to Bill Finch, is to draw attention to an important Gulf Coast Plant (not to house a Minotaur!).

Tea is a member of the camellia family.  It grows VERY well on the Gulf Coast; so well, in fact, that the tea plants being used in MBG's maze came from a former Lipton Tea plantation in Baldwin County.  One of the great things about growing tea is that these plants do well in either shade or full Gulf Coast blazing summer sun.  My two questions to Bill about growing tea:

Question 1:  Since tea plants are part of the camellia family, do they bloom?

Answer:  Yes, beautifully!  They produce lots of mostly white flowers in spring.

Question 2:  Can you make tea to drink from these plants?

Answer:  Well, sort of.  To harvest tea for drinking, clip the new growth leaves.  After that, the leaves require some drying and processing.  It's like brewing beer from hops or making wine from grapes…there's an art to it.

Although they're sparse now, these tea plants will fill in as a thick, beautiful hedge before long.  Tea plants grow about 5-6 feet, but can be trimmed to just about any height.  To learn more, contact mobilebotanicalgardens.org.

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