I recently purchased a tea plant, and while I learned some from my previous efforts, I wanted to make sure that I get it right this time. I opted to purchase the paperback edition of Grow Your Own Tea: The Complete Guide to Cultivating, Harvesting, and Preparing. The author, Christine Parks, runs Camellia Forest Nursery. She is among the most experienced people in growing tea in the United States, and I had success growing seeds from her in the past (before a squirrel destroyed the seedlings).
What is it about?
As the title suggests, Grown Your Own Tea is a guide to growing Camellia Sinensis plants. The first section of the book gives a brief history of tea and contemporary tea growing in North America and the British Isles. It then goes into some of the basics of the plant itself. There are several useful charts that I know I will be turning back to in the future, including one comparing the morphological differences between var. Sinensis and var. Assamica.
The second section focuses on the actual growing of tea plants, from planning to basic needs and things to watch out for. Throughout this part of the book, the color photographs do a great job illustrating what is talked about in the text. I think the diagrams showing how to prune properly will prove incredibly useful as my plant matures. The different gardening tasks are helpfully separated by season and by the age of the plant. Common threats and pests are also covered.
Beyond just growing, Grow Your Own Tea offers a brief guide to processing the leaves of your tea plant. I really enjoyed that the instructions frequently used easy-to-find equipment that readers will most likely already have in their homes. Recipes are given for each of the tea categories, along with brewing directions and tasting notes. It then finishes with a series of ideas and recipes that use fresh tea leaves. I’m particularly excited to give making tempura tea leaves a try!
Would I recommend it?
I would definitely recommend Grow Your Own Tea to anyone interested in growing tea plants, as well as those who have a general interest in drinking tea. There are very few resources on the day-to-day aspects of making tea, and reading this book is an easy way to increase our understanding of that. The section on processing is particularly informative. Gardening can get quite technical, especially if you are not experienced, but the authors did a great job explaining everything in an easy-to-understand way.
The paperback of Grow Your Own Tea is very high quality with beautiful full-color photographs. For that reason, I would recommend it over the Kindle version. At just over 200 pages, it is the perfect size to keep on your shelf for when you need it without taking too much space. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another book on growing tea that offers so much information without too much horn-tooting or focusing on other types of plants.
Here’s a recent YouTube video where I show off my tea plant, give some of my own tips, and talk a bit about this book. You’ll also get a peek at the dastardly squirrel who spoiled my previous tea-growing efforts!
Have you read Grown Your Tea? Are there any other books about tea gardening that I should read? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!