Around here the ground is frozen, the snow is falling, and I know I’m done resenting myself over planting too many things because I’m already thinking about what new plant I want to play with. Looking at my wish list once more tea caught my fancy.
Is anybody here growing cold hardy (zone 4) tea? If so could you pretty please tell me about varieties, care, and feeding?
No chance for Camellia sinensis in zone 4 without a heated greenhouse. Even in zone 8 where I am only the harder genotypes of the species thrive.
Instead I would recommend Dasiphora fruticosa (previously known as Potentilla fruticosa). Although it does not contain caffeine it makes a very satisfying tea that is very healthy and in my opinion would be well received by anyone who likes Camellia sinensis based tea.
I 100% guarantee that is a typo. If you look at their actual product listings for tea varieties they are listed as hardy to zone 7. One of the varieties they list as zone 7 shows a good bit of winter stress every year in my zone 8 garden and grows poorly so I definitely wouldn’t think it useful in zone 7 even if it didn’t die.
If you insist on caffeine Ilex vomitoria produces a quality tea with caffeine and is a bit harder than Camellia sinensis, but would still need a heated greenhouse in zone 4.
I can assure you kuril tea (Dasiphora fruticosa) is very satisfying despite not having caffeine and it is actually appropriate for your climate zone.
Just this past winter I ordered 2 tea plants from burnt ridge nursery. One plant is in a pot inside the other is out front in warm south west facing wall. I’m also skeptical it can survive a zone 6a winter but that’s why I bought two. I’ve been contemplating some sort of cold frame to put over it. Hopefully come spring it will still be alive.
Anyone know what to do with the little flowers it makes?
I planted a very happy (still) tea bush in zone 8 SE AL in the woods. Lovely blooms. No care bar initial watering and occasional leaf or pine needle mulch. Never processed it, it was my TEOTWAKI caffeine source and interesting planting, never needed it thankfully and too lazy to figure out if I need to cure it or rot it or what.
According to Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. the leaves of C. sasanqua can be used in a blend with C. sinensis cause aparently they add something positive to the aroma. Not sure if anyone uses them alone, but would be fun to try. I’m speculating the primary reason they aren’t used alone is that they might not tolerate being harvested repeatedly through the growing season like C. sinensis.
Makes sense. Zone 6b here is pushing them, but they are a super plant in most of North Carolina. I’ve not tried tea. I might try the Sochi tea sometime…but I’m not a big tea drinker. A dozen tea bags gets me through a typical year.
I bought a tiny sochi seedling plug from my neighborhood nursery last summer (2021) and planted it in the ground then, though it didn’t really grow that summer.
It made it through 16°F last December (with snow cover) without any dieback even though it only had a handful of leaves and was a few inches tall. After that, it grew very slowly this year, and is still well under a foot tall.
I did feed it a couple times this summer and water it every week or so, but it might have wanted to be mulched and watered more. It’s definitely not one I’ve babied, and it shows.
Don’t worry about it. There are endless valid variations for processing techniques. Many variations will produce tasty results. Even with no processing you can turn the leaves into an okay cup of tea, it will just not be as developed in flavor.