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."
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), tê, 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.
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