Camellia sinensis is a species of evergreen shrub or small tree whose
leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea. It is of the genus
Camellia (Chinese: 茶花; pinyin: Cháhuā, literally: "tea flower")
of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. Common names include "tea
plant", "tea shrub", and "tea tree" (not to be confused with Melaleuca
alternifolia, the source of tea tree oil, or Leptospermum scoparium,
the Mānuka or New Zealand Teatree from which bees produce the highly
antibiotic Mānuka Honey used on wounds).
Camellia sinensis var. sinensis and its subspecies,
var. assamica, are two major varieties grown today. White tea,
yellow tea, green tea, oolong, pu-erh tea and black tea are all
harvested from one or the other, but are processed differently to
attain varying levels of oxidation.
Kukicha (twig tea) is also
Camellia sinensis, but uses twigs and stems rather than
1 Nomenclature and taxonomy
4.1 Chinese teas
4.2 Indian teas
4.3 Pests and diseases
5 Health effects
6 See also
7 Primary green tea catechins
9 External links
Nomenclature and taxonomy
Camellia is taken from the
Latinized name of Rev. Georg
Kamel, SJ (1661–1706), a Moravian-born
Jesuit lay brother,
pharmacist, and missionary to the Philippines.
Carl Linnaeus chose his name in 1753 for the genus to honor Kamel's
contributions to botany (although Kamel did not discover or name
this plant, or any Camellia, and Linnaeus did not consider this
Camellia but a Thea).
Robert Sweet shifted all formerly Thea species to the
in 1818. The name sinensis means "from China" in Latin.
Four varieties of
Camellia sinensis are recognized. Of these, C.
sinensis var. sinensis and C. sinensis var. assamica (JW Masters)
Kitamura are most commonly used for tea, and C. sinensis var.
pubilimba Hung T. Chang and C. sinensis var. dehungensis (Hung T.
Chang & BH Chen) TL Ming are sometimes used locally.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of cultivars of C. sinensis.
Some Japanese cultivars include:
Camellia sinensis is native to East Asia, the
Indian Subcontinent and
Southeast Asia, but it is today cultivated across the world in
tropical and subtropical regions.
Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub or small tree that is usually
trimmed to below 2 m (6.6 ft) when cultivated for its
leaves. It has a strong taproot. The flowers are yellow-white,
2.5–4 cm (0.98–1.57 in) in diameter, with 7 to 8 petals.
Flower of tea plant
The seeds of
Camellia sinensis and
Camellia oleifera can be pressed to
yield tea oil, a sweetish seasoning and cooking oil that should not be
confused with tea tree oil, an essential oil that is used for medical
and cosmetic purposes, and originates from the leaves of a different
Camellia sinensis plant, with cross-section of the flower (lower left)
and seeds (lower right)
Camellia sinensis - MHNT
The leaves are 4–15 cm (1.6–5.9 in) long and
2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in) broad. Fresh leaves contain about
4% caffeine, as well as related compounds including theobromine.
The young, light green leaves are preferably harvested for tea
production; they have short white hairs on the underside. Older leaves
are deeper green. Different leaf ages produce differing tea qualities,
since their chemical compositions are different. Usually, the tip
(bud) and the first two to three leaves are harvested for processing.
This hand picking is repeated every one to two weeks.
In 2017 Chinese scientists sequenced the genome of
var. assamica . It contains about three billion base pairs which
was larger than most plants previously sequenced.
Camellia sinensis is mainly cultivated in tropical and subtropical
climates, in areas with at least 127 cm (50 inches) of
rainfall a year.
Tea plants prefer a rich and moist growing location
in full to part sun, and can be grown in hardiness zones 7 – 9.
However, the clonal one is commercially cultivated from the equator to
as far north as
Scotland on the UK mainland. Many
high quality teas are grown at high elevations, up to 1,500 meters
(4,900 feet), as the plants grow more slowly and acquire more flavour.
Tea plants will grow into a tree if left undisturbed, but cultivated
plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking. Two principal
varieties are used, the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C.
sinensis sinensis) and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis
assamica), used mainly for black tea.
The Chinese plant (sometimes called C. sinensis var. sinensis) is a
small-leafed bush with multiple stems that reaches a height of some 3
meters. It is native to southeast China. The first tea plant to be
discovered, recorded and used to produce tea 3,000 years ago, it
yields some of the most popular teas.
C. sinensis var. waldenae was considered a different species, Camellia
waldenae by SY Hu, but it was later identified as a variety of C.
sinensis. This variety is commonly called Waldenae Camellia. It is
seen on Sunset Peak and
Tai Mo Shan
Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong. It is also
Guangxi province, China.
Three main kinds of tea are produced in India:
Assam comes from the northeastern section of the country. This heavily
forested region is home to much wildlife, including the rhinoceros.
Tea from here is rich and full-bodied. It was in Assam that the first
tea estate was established, in 1837.
Darjeeling, from the cool and wet
Darjeeling region, tucked in the
foothills of the Himalayas.
Tea plantations reach 2,200 metres. The
tea is delicately flavoured, and considered to be one of the finest
teas in the world. The
Darjeeling plantations have 3 distinct
harvests, termed 'flushes', and the tea produced from each flush has a
unique flavour. First (spring) flush teas are light and aromatic,
while the second (summer) flush produces tea with a bit more bite. The
third, or autumn flush gives a tea that is lesser in quality.
Nilgiri, from a southern region of India almost as high as Darjeeling.
Grown at elevations between 1,000 and 2,500 metres, Nilgiri teas are
subtle and rather gentle, and are frequently blended with other, more
robust teas.
Seed-bearing fruit of
Pests and diseases
Main article: List of tea diseases
See also: List of Lepidoptera that feed on Camellia
Tea leaves are eaten by some herbivores, like the caterpillars of the
willow beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria), a geometer moth.
Main article: Health effects of tea
Although health benefits have been assumed throughout the history of
Camellia sinensis as a common beverage, there is no high-quality
evidence that tea confers significant benefits. In clinical
research over the early 21st century, tea has been studied extensively
for its potential to lower the risk of human diseases, but none of
this research is conclusive as of 2017.
Green tea extract
International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants
ISO 3103, a method of brewing tea according to the ISO
Kaempferol, a flavanoid found in tea and associated with reduced risk
of heart disease
List of tea companies
Tasseography, a method of divination by reading tea leaves.
Tea production in Sri Lanka
Tea production in Kenya
Tea leaf grading
Primary green tea catechins
^ a b c Min, Tianlu; Bartholomew, Bruce. "18. Theaceae". Flora of
^ ITIS Standard Report Page
Camellia Sinensis retrieved 2009-03-28.
^ Stafleu, FA; Cowan, RS (1976–88). Taxonomic literature: A
selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates,
commentaries and types (2nd ed.). Utrecht: Bohn, Scheltema and
^ "Botanics", History of Tea, 10 August 2003, Georg Jeoseph Kamel,
whose name in
Latin was Camellus was missionary to the Philippines,
died in Manilla in 1706. […] Camellias were named in posthumous
honor of George Joseph Kamel by Carolus Linnæus .
^ "Botanics", History of Tea, 10 August 2003, It is speculated that he
never saw a camellia .
^ Golender, Leonid (10 August 2003), "Botanics", History of Tea, The
first edition of Linnaeus's
Species Plantarum published in 1753
suggested calling the tea plant Thea sinensis...
^ International Association for
Plant Taxonomy (2006), "Article 13,
example 3", International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Vienna Code)
(electronic ed.), The generic names Thea L. (Sp. Pl.: 515. 24 Mai
Camellia L. (Sp. Pl.: 698. 16 August 1753; Gen. Pl., ed. 5:
311. 1754), are treated as having been published simultaneously on 1
May 1753. … the combined genus bears the name Camellia, since Sweet
(Hort. Suburb. Lond.: 157. 1818), who was the first to unite the two
genera, chose that name, and cited Thea as a synonym .
Cultivar Database - World of Tea". World of Tea. Retrieved
^ a b "Identification of Japanese tea (
Camellia sinensis) cultivars
using SSR marker". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 5 June
^ a b c d e "Varietal differences in the adaptability of tea [Camellia
sinensis] cultivars to light nitrogen application". Food and
Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
Camellia sinensis". Purdue. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
^ Xia, En-Hua; et al. (2017-05-01). "The
Tree Genome Provides
Tea Flavor and Independent Evolution of Caffeine
Biosynthesis". Molecular Plant.
doi:10.1016/j.molp.2017.04.002. CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al.
^ Briggs, Helen (2017-05-02). "Secrets of tea plant revealed by
science". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
^ "Tea", Gardening, Telegraph Online, 17 September 2005 .
^ "Tea", The world's first Scottish tea, The Independent, 17 November
^ a b The International
Camellia Society (ICS), DE: Uniklinik
Sårland, archived from the original on 21 August 2006
^ Ming, TL (1992), "A revision of
Camellia sect. Thea", Acta Botanica
Yunnanica (in Chinese), 14 (2): 115–32 .
^ a b "Black tea". MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine. 30
November 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
^ "Green tea". National Center for Complementary and Integrative
Health, US National Institutes of Health. 30 November 2016. Retrieved
27 February 2018.
^ Murray, edited by Joseph E. Pizzorno, Jr., Michael T. (2012).
Textbook of natural medicine (4th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill
Livingstone. p. 628. ISBN 978-1-4377-2333-5. CS1 maint:
Extra text: authors list (link)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Wikispecies has information related to
Camellia sinensis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
Retrieved 16 February 2006.
Camellia sinensis from Purdue University
Plant Cultures: botany and history of the tea plant
Antibacterial Activity of Green
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anginosus group CI.NII.AC.jp
Jac.OxfordJournals.org, The effect of a component of tea (Camellia
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Suns.Ars-Grin.gov, List of Chemicals in
Camellia sinensis (Dr. Duke's
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Lu'an Melon Seed
Earl Grey (Lady Grey)
Breakfast tea (English, Irish)
Moroccan mint tea
Prince of Wales
Afternoon/High tea/Evening meal
Chashitsu (tea room)
Mizuya (prep room)
Teahouse circuit or trek (Himalayas)
Tea processing (
Tea leaf grading)
Tea plant diseases and
Tea plant predation
Ground or pressed (
Tea and health
Consumption by country
Doodh pati chai
Hong Kong-style milk tea
7 layered Tea
Tea set (Brewing: Strainer or Infuser, Utensils:
Teacup or Teapot)
Bak kut teh
List of Chinese teas
Lipton Institute of Tea
Teas of related species
Tea seed oil
Tea Task Force
Plant List: kew-2694880