The Botany of Tea

The Botany of Tea

The plant from which tea comes belongs to the Dicotyledonous class of the Angiosperm, or flowering plants, and is of the flowering plants in the family Theaceae. Two major varieties are grown: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis for Chinese teas, and Camellia sinensis var. assamica for Indian Assam teas.

The name Camellia was named by Carl Linnaeus honoring the Reverend Georg Kamel, a Czech born Jesuit lay brother, pharmacist, and missionary who spent a long time in the Philippines.

Kamel did not discover the tea plant, or indeed any Camellia and Linnaeus didn’t even consider the tea plant a Camellia but actually named it Thea sinensis.

Robert Sweet moved all Thea species into the Camellia genus in 1818, the species name sinensis comes from the Latin for China, the home of the tea plant.

Currently four sub-species of Camellia sinensis are recognised with C. sinensis var. sinensis and C. sinensis var. assamica being the two used for tea production. C. sinensis var. pubilimba (from Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan) and C. sinensis var. dehungensis (from Yunnan) only occasionally being used locally for making tea.

There are seven main varieties found of Camellia sinensis; Benifuuki, Fushun, Kanayamidori, Meiryoku, Saemidori, Okumidori and Yabukita.

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