I was reading this article and this was said, “Shincha’s deep expression of flavor is owed to all that the tea plant’s saved up over a long winter’s rest. While dormant, tea bushes build up a rich collection of the soil’s nutrients, which present with vivid intensity in these first-harvest cups.”
Is that true? Do plants collect a lot of nutrients while dormant? Would it make sense to fertilize potted dormant trees?
Well, they are not using the word dormant the way you think. Tea bushes are camellia for ice tea, (Obviously, you can make other teas with other herbs) and camellia are evergreens that grow slowly in the winter but are never truly dormant.
Temperate fruit trees don’t absorb a lot of nutrients during dormancy. I would assume this also to be true for most plants.
The soil is cooler (sometimes frozen) and root activity slows way down. It’s even normal for some feeder roots to die during winter (depending on the species).
You may be aware many areas that grow row crops are fertilized in the fall. This is done primarily because of labor availability, to allow tillage to incorporate the nutrients, or to allow the nutrients to leach down to the root zone by the time the crop is planted in the spring.
Trees store energy in the fall, so sometimes it’s recommended to apply some nutrients at that time before leaf drop. I’m not aware of any advantages of applying fertilizer to dormant trees, other than some nutrients are slow to leach into the root zone (like P) but almost nobody fertilizes fruit trees during dormancy.
I for sure wouldn’t bother fertilizing potted trees during dormancy.
All that said, I really don’t know anything about growing tea. Perhaps as Misterguy points out, they are using the word dormant differently there.
Leaves collect immobile nutrients over time, it is not that more nutrients are being used during winter, just that winter leaves are older and have accumulated more calcium, magnesium etc.
Although that is for green tea, so my guess is the flavor is actually from a lower level of immobile nutrients and ample stored mobile nutrients.