Camellia sinensis is a type of a tea plant used to produce teas. There are 2 major variations of this plant, sinensis and assamica, both of which are used to produce different types of teas. The sinensis variation is used to produce Chinese tea while the assamica variation is used for Indian Assam tea. There are many other types of teas, such as green tea, white tea, black tea, yellow tea, Oolong, and Pu-erh tea, all of which is made from either the Camellia sinensis or the Camellia sinensis assamica variation.
Mainly grown in subtropical and tropical climates, optimal conditions to grow Camellia sinensis would include areas with at least 50 inches of rainfall per year. That said, some tea plants are also cultivated in areas of high elevations, which allow the plants to grow slowly and to develop a richer flavor. To ease handpicking, the plants are trimmed waist high, and the plants are picked every 1 or 2 weeks.
The leaves of the Camellia sinensis are oblong-round and are 2 to 5 cm in width and 4 to 15 cm in length. It is an evergreen shrub which produces flowers that are symmetrical, white and resemble cherry blossoms. The younger leaves are light green in color and contain caffeine while the older leaves are dark green in color, and different ages of leaves are used to produce different types and qualities of tea. Younger leaves are preferred for tea production.
As mentioned earlier, the 2 major variations produce 2 different types of teas. Chinese teas are produced by plants that have multiple stems and small leaves, and it is also native to the Southeastern Chinese region. This region also boasts some of the most popular teas, as this was where the first tea plant was ever discovered.
Indian tea, produced from the Camellia sinensis assamica, produces 3 major types of Indian teas. Assam teas, produced in the northeastern part of India, have a full-bodied and a rich flavor. Assam was where the first ever tea plantation was ever established in 1837. Nilgiris tea, produced in India’s southern plantations, grow in high elevations of 1000 to 2500 meters. It is because of this high elevation that the teas have a subtle and light flavor, which is usually mixed with other teas of a much stronger flavor.
Finally, Darjeeling teas are from the Darjeeling region located near the wet and cool Himalayan Mountains. The Darjeeling tea plantations are also at a high elevation of about 2200 meters, which is what causes their teas to have that world-famous delicate flavor. Darjeeling teas are harvested 3 distinct times in a year, spring, summer, and autumn, and each harvest produce a one-of-a-kind flavor.
The Camellia sinensis plant has been used to produce a variety of different teas. Especially used in Indian and Chinese teas, this plant can also produce a whole variety of different teas.