Tea Tree – (White, Black and Green Tea)

Growing Zones in Ground: 8 - 11 / in Pots: 4 - 11

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The Tea Tree, or Camellia sinensis, is the source for all varieties and styles of traditional tea including green tea, black tea, and white tea. Tea Trees can be grown in the ground in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 11, or in a container in Zones 4 to 11. They are shade-loving, evergreen, and reliably bloom fragrant white flowers in late fall and winter, making them an ornamental delight. This easy to grow shrub-like tree lets you harvest and make your own tea right at home.

The Tea Tree will reach a mature size of up to 20 feet tall and as wide, while container grown trees will remain smaller. The Tea Tree also responds well to trimming, hedging, and shaping, so you can maintain it at any size or shape that suits your landscape. They are slow to moderate growers, but since you are not waiting for fruit to bloom and ripen, you can harvest leaves from a very young specimen, as long as the tree is large enough to support trimming.

Tea Tree Care

If you are planting your Tea Tree in the ground, choose a location with well draining soil that has full sun to partial shade. Dig a hole that is at least 3 to 5 inches larger on all sides than the root ball. Do not over bury, and position the tree so that the surface of the existing root ball is even with the soil surface once planted. Water in well, then water once per week, or when soil is dry down to 3 inches.

Tea Trees need not be pruned, however they are happy to be formed into hedges and ornamental shapes. If you are cutting branches to harvest leaves, simply trim away the amount you need, pick the individual leaves, and make tea from them. Do not allow trimmed branches or excess debris to collect at the tree’s base. You can use mulch, but keep the trunk area free of decaying leaves or mulch.

Tea Leaves & Harvesting

Tea Trees require well-drained soil and a location that provides full sun to partial shade. Since tea is made by harvesting and steeping the leaves, you can pick what you need fresh at any time. Green tea is made from fresh green leaves. Black tea is made from leaves that are dried and aged until they darken, and white tea is made from the newest, smallest leaves as they emerge.

Freshly made tea is much more flavorful than packaged varieties, and at the same time, it maintains many more antioxidants and nutritional benefits. For maximum yields, grow multiple Tea Trees and prune them into a hedge from which you can harvest walls of vibrant tea leaves to use at home and share. Delight friends, guests and family with delicious, nutritious fresh tea.

Growing Zones


Tea Trees are naturally resistant to pests, diseases, and cold. They are cold hardy down to 20 degrees F. As such, you can grow these shrub-like trees in the ground even in areas that experience freezing temperatures. Their dark green leaves make a perfect backdrop for the fragrant white flowers. Since they are so easy to grow, and relatively small, they are great for any garden.

Tea Trees also respond well to growing in a container. Imagine a sturdy dark green Tea Tree covered in white blooms in a fashionable pot on your patio or deck. You can also grow one indoors as long as it gets as much light as possible. Position a potted Tea Tree in a south-facing window and you will have a focal point that is both a source for yummy tea, and a conversation starter for all who see it.


Can you really make tea from a Tea Tree?

Yes. This Tea Tree is the source for all varieties of tea (with the exception of herbal teas made from other plants or flowers).

How long will a Tea Tree last?

Tea Trees are amazingly long-lived. Some specimens have been known to live for over a hundred years. A well cared for tea tree will last for generations.

Where can I grow a Tea Tree?

Tea Trees can be grown in the ground in USDA Growing Zones 7 to 11. They will tolerate freezing temperatures down to 20 degrees F. You can also grow a Tea Tree in a pot.

How soon can I make tea from my new Tea Tree?

You can begin harvesting leaves to make fresh tea as soon as your new tree is planted and has been growing long enough to acclimate to its new location. This usually takes a month or so to be safe, but essentially, leaves can be picked at any time if the tree is healthy.