As we continue our series on unraveling the mysteries of tea, we want to look at the weather and general climate condition tea plants need in order to grow. Next week we’ll be focusing on the regions and countries that have these conditions and grow tea. We hope you find this very interesting – we sure do!
The most important thing to know about tea is that it is a tropical and sub-tropical plant. It likes to grow in places with a lot of moisture and temperatures that don’t swing wildly throughout the year. I can hear you crying, “But wait! I’ve seen pictures of tea growing on mountains! That doesn’t seem tropical to me!” That’s what we thought too, until we did more reading. So do the same… and read on.
Like most tropical plants, tea likes plenty of water. At least 60 inches of rain a year are required for maximum growth. Additionally, a dry season that is more than three months is really hard on the tea plant. When a dry season stretches on for to long, the growth of the leaves is stunted, causing a less than ideal crop.
Back to mountains. Here in the North America, we’re used to thinking of mountains that have cold and harsh conditions. The Rockies are our most iconic mountain range, in Europe it is the Alps, and when we think of the Himalayas we think of Mt. Everest. But tea’s preference for temperate climates and high amounts of rainfall mean that it grows in many more temperate mountain ranges. The Yunnan province of China is where tea is thought to have originated and is full of mountains. When you look at a globe, you’ll notice that Yunnan is at about the same latitude as the state of Florida. (Imagine Florida with mountains, that would be a cool place!)
But tea doesn’t only grow on mountains. Many famous growing regions are considered to be plains. Flat, moist, and temperate plains provide exceptionally easy growing conditions for the tea plant. We promised you a short post, so that’s all we’ll say for now. We’ll talk more about specific growing regions, mountains vs. plains, and how all this affects the flavor of tea next week – be sure to check back!!