Verdant Tea

How Is Tea Grown? A Guide to Tea Cultivation and Production

How Is Tea Grown? A Guide to Tea Cultivation and Production

How Is Tea Grown? A Guide to Tea Cultivation and Production

great tea craft starts in the fields

February 27, 2023

Tea craft starts in the fields. To really appreciate how tea tastes, you need to ask: how is tea grown? Planting and farming practices make the difference between good tea and truly great tea. Although most people might not be able to visit a tea farm, you can still know your farmers - the people behind the tea!

We’ll explore the challenging work of the tea farmer, with a focus on small family farmers: from caring for the land itself to planting specific cultivars, knowing when to harvest the tea, and how to care for it along the way. By the end of this article, you’ll know why the term “tea master” truly belongs to the farmers more than anyone else.

"The term 'master' truly belongs to the farmers more than anyone else."

Lu family farm in Laoshan
The tea plant, camellia sinensis
Tea Farmer and Verdant Tea Owner He Qingqing picks fresh spring Laoshan tea leaves from her family's tea plants

The Tea Plant: What Is It?

The tea plant ( Camellia sinesis ) is an evergreen that grows wild throughout the mountains of Southeast Asia. While today we refer to tea as Camellia sinesis var sinensis or var assamica, humans have had a long relationship with this special plant, referring to it as tú (荼), , ming (茗), chá (茶) and more.


As our relationship with the plant has grown deeper, our names have gotten more specific. In the earliest days, tea was a medicine, picked wild and steeped in boiling water, often combined with a broth of ginger, scallions, and other medicinal plants. Only later did tea develop its own domesticated agricultural practices and brewing culture.

tea plant grows in rocky soiltea plant grows in rocky soil
tea plant grows in rocky soil

What does a tea plant look like?

Depending on where it grows, the tea plant can look like a bush, a small tree, or even a towering old tree!

tea plants grow in rows of bushes on Shi Feng in Longjing

the Li Family's Old Tree Shui Xian in tall groves

giant tea trees tower over Qianjiazhai

Where is tea from?

Many places claim to be the birthplace of tea, but what country does tea come from? The plant itself is referred to in ancient Chinese, Tibetan and pre-colonial Ind