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Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze

Tea Plant

Modern name

Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze


Thea sinensis L.; T. assamica Mast.; C. thea Link; C. theifera Griff.

An evergreen shrub with lance-shaped, short-stalked leaves up to 412 in. in length, and about one-third as wide; glabrous, dull green, shallowly toothed. Flowers fragrant, full white, 1 to 112 in. across; one to three of them produced in the leaf-axils on stalks 12 in. long. Stamens very numerous, with yellow anthers.

Native of Yunnan, where it was found wild by Forrest and Rock at 7,000 to 9,000 ft altitude, the tea plant has been cultivated by the Chinese from time immemorial. It was introduced from China into Java and India about 1835 and into Ceylon a little later. In S. China, Indochina, Siam, Burma, and Assam, typical C. sinensis is replaced by a variety which grows into a tree over 50 ft high and has longer, thinner bluntly acuminate leaves. This is var. assamica (Mast.) Kitamura, and as it comes from tropical regions it is more suitable for growing in countries like Assam and Ceylon than the Chinese plant, much of the tea from these countries being in fact from var. assamica or its hybrids.



Other species in the genus