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Camellia sinensis

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Template:Redirect Template:Taxobox 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 (Template:Zh) 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 New Zealand teatree).

Two major varieties are grown: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis for Chinese teas, and Camellia sinensis var. assamica for Indian Assam teas.<ref>ITIS Standard Report Page Camellia Sinensis retrieved 2009-03-28.</ref> 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 harvested from Camellia sinensis, but uses twigs and stems rather than leaves.

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Nomenclature and taxonomy

The name Camellia is taken from the Latinized name of Rev. Georg Kamel,<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> 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<ref>Template:Citation.</ref> (although Kamel did not discover or name this plant, or any Camellia,<ref>Template:Citation.</ref> and Linnaeus did not consider this plant a Camellia but a Thea).<ref>Template:Citation</ref>

Robert Sweet shifted all formerly Thea species to the Camellia genus in 1818.<ref>Template:Citation.</ref> The name sinensis means from China in Latin.

Four varieties of Camellia sinensis are recognized.<ref name=FOC>Template:Cite book</ref> 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.<ref name=FOC/>

Cultivars

Cultivars of C. sinensis include:

  • Benifuuki<ref name=ijtc>Template:Cite web</ref>
  • Fushun<ref name=vdat>Template:Cite web</ref>
  • Kanayamidori<ref name=ijtc />
  • Meiryoku<ref name=vdat />
  • Saemidori<ref name=vdat />
  • Okumidori<ref name=vdat />
  • Yabukita<ref name=vdat />

Description

Camellia sinensis is native to East, South 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 Template:Convert when cultivated for its leaves. It has a strong taproot. The flowers are yellow-white, Template:Convert in diameter, with 7 to 8 petals.

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 plant.

Camellia sinensis plant, with cross-section of the flower (lower left) and seeds (lower right)

The leaves are Template:Convert long and Template:Convert broad. Fresh leaves contain about 4% caffeine.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> 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.

Cultivation

Template:Main

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 Cornwall on the UK mainland.<ref>Template:Citation.</ref> Many high quality teas are grown at high elevations, up to Template:Convert, 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.

Chinese teas

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 three thousand years ago, it yields some of the most popular teas.

C. sinensis var. waldenae was considered a different species, Camellia waldenae by SY Hu,<ref name="ICS">Template:Citation.Template:Dead link</ref> but it was later identified as a variety of C. sinensis.<ref>Template:Citation.</ref> This variety is commonly called Waldenae Camellia. It is seen on Sunset Peak and Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong. It is also distributed in Guangxi Province, China.<ref name="ICS" />

Indian teas

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.Template:Citation needed
Seed-bearing fruit of Camelia sinensis

Pests and diseases

Template:Main Template:See also Tea leaves are eaten by some herbivores, like the caterpillars of the willow beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria), a geometer moth.

Health effects

Template:Main The leaves have been used in traditional Chinese medicine and other medical systems to treat asthma (functioning as a bronchodilator), angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disease, and coronary artery disease.

Among other interesting bioactivities, (-)-catechin from C. sinensis was shown to act as agonist of PPARgamma, nuclear receptor that is current pharmacological target for the treatment of diabetes type 2.<ref>Wang L, Waltenberger B, Pferschy-Wenzig EM, Blunder M, Liu X, Malainer C, Blazevic T, Schwaiger S, Rollinger JM, Heiss EH, Schuster D, Kopp B, Bauer R, Stuppner H, Dirsch VM, Atanasov AG. Natural product agonists of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ): a review. Biochem Pharmacol. 2014 Jul 29. pii: S0006-2952(14)00424-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2014.07.018. PubMed PMID 25083916.</ref>

Tea may have some negative impacts on health, such as over-consumption of caffeine, and the presence of oxalates in tea.Template:Citation needed

See also

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Primary green tea catechins

<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Notes and references

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External links

Template:Commons Template:Wikispecies

Template:- Template:Teas

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  • This page was last modified on 2 August 2015, at 12:29.
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