Is it Just About Sinensis?

I am so fortunate to live in a southern climate where Camellias are the Queen of the winter garden.   These beautiful old stately evergreen shrubs bloom in the fall and winter in gardens throughout mild regions of the USA.  They grow well in the deep south where they have been growing in some locations for over 200 years.   They are in our gardens, on our tables and for some southern ladies and proper gentlemen, on the lapels for Sunday church. Not everyone knows or understands the connection of Camellias to our beverage of choice in the south – Tea.  Tea is traditionally made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis and it has been for the last 5000 years or so.  Camellia sinensis belongs to the Camellia family and is cousins to the more famous garden selections of Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua.

Camellias are in abundance in the warmer regions of the USA.  Many people often question it is possible to make tea with other camellias, not just Sinensis.  My answer is quite simple – yes, you can make tea from other camellias. The result may not taste the same, look the same, or smell the same.  All plants have certain chemical compounds that are in their genetic makeup.   Camellia sinensis contains caffeine, as do many of the other camellias. The caffeine content, along with other physical chemical compounds, may differ from species to species.    The chemical compounds may also react differently to processing in Camellia sinensis than the other camellias which will affect appearance, taste, and aroma.

Making Tea With Camellia Sasanqua

I was intrigued by making tea with camellias other than sinensis, so when the new growth emerged on Camellia sasanqua I gave it a try.

The tea that resulted was quite different from that of my Camellia sinensis tea plants.  It oxidized nicely and turned a beautiful bronze but the taste was nothing like that of traditional tea.   There was a very distinctive hint of cloves both in fragrance and in taste.  It wasn’t unpleasant but it was just not something that I think I would enjoy every day.

There is no rule that prohibits you from making tea with other camellias. You should understand that the results will vary. It may not be at all like that of traditional tea made from Camellia sinensis.

If you are interested in learning more about Ornamental Flowering Camellias, visit our sister site

Want to make your own Green Tea?  Here’s how! 



Sinensis, Other Camellias and Making Tea

Debbie Odom

I have the best job in the world...I get to walk out of my back door and across the yard to a greenhouse and nursery full of Camellias and do what I love every day.  Sometimes, when it's very hot or very cold or when problems arise I do question my career path, but I always come back to the same place....I'm where I'm supposed to be!