Three million tons of tea are produced worldwide each year, and their journey from plantation to teacup combines art and science, ancient tradition and modern innovation.
From One Plant Come Many Cups
There are an estimated 3,000 varieties of tea produced worldwide. With so many different types of tea, you might think there are many different plants that produce them. But that's not the case: All tea leaves trace their roots to one plant. It's the processing the leaves undergo after they are harvested that determines whether they will become black, oolong (wu-long), green, or white tea.
All true tea comes from the leaves of an evergreen shrub, Camellia sinensis, a relative of the ornamental camellia plant (Camellia japonica) that is grown for its beautiful flowers. There are two main species: One variety, called Thea sinensis, is native to China, while the other, Thea assamica, hails from India. Other tea plant species are hybrids, made by crossbreeding Thea sinensis and Thea assamica.
Go to the next page to learn how tea is grown.