Camellia sinensis, Tea Culture
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Mag.Gerald Schmidt
Posted on: April 8, 2002

I’d like to know what the origin of Richters tea seeds is - or, in other words, should it be var. sinica (and kept at moderate to high temperatures), var. assamica (and thus experiencing more of a seasonal cycle of temperatures) or a hybrid? Or, under what conditions does Richters keep tea - supposing that some are being grown. Please do reply, I’m trying to cultivate a somewhat larger number of tea plants, just now the seeds are germinating (and very nicely) but usually after one year of growth the plants’ new growth fails to emerge but rather dies back, followed by quite rapid sclerosis of all the older leaves, too.

According to Hortus Third the variety sinensis is the typical variety from China. It has smaller leaves, usually 3.5 by 1.25 inches (9 by 3 centimeters) with an obtuse tip (that is the sides are convex)and it is slightly cooler growing than the variety assamica. It is usually grown as a shrub.

The variety assamica is more tender, grows larger (up to 50 feet or 15 to 17 meters) and has relatively broader and usually larger leaves measuring up to 8.5 by 3 inches (21.5 by 7.5 centimeters) with bluntly acuminate tips (that is the sides are slightly concave at the tip). This variety is usually grown in South-East Asia.

We used to get our seed from the USA from a supplier who did not give us his ultimate source. We now (in 2002) get our seed from China and therefore assume it probably is the variety assamica. It needs to be grown warmer.

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