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Tea, from grower to consumer by A. Ibbetson (1917) PDF book

Tea, from grower to the consumer by A. Ibbetson (1917)

Tea, from grower to the consumer

TEA, as everyone knows, is prepared from the young leaves of the tea plant, Camellia Thea (Thea Sinensis), a shrub belonging to the natural order Theaceae, and extensively cultivated in China, India, and Ceylon, and, to a less extent, in certain other countries. Under the name of Thea Sinensis, the Swedish botanist, Linnaeus, originally described tea as a single species, but later it became known that two distinct plants were cultivated in China, which he named T. Viridis and T. Bohea. These two species were long thought to be the origin of green and black teas respectively. No strictly wild plants have been found in China, but an indigenous tea-tree, Thea assamica (or, as it is now called, Camellia Thea) occurs in Assam and is generally regarded by botanists as the parent species of all cultivated forms.

The tea plant is a bushy shrub which, when left to its natural habit of growth and not subjected to the vigorous prunings necessary for its successful cultivation, attains the height of a small tree. The leaves vary considerably in size and shape, according to the variety, but are leathery, alternate, and generally elliptical or lanceolate, with a toothed margin. Oil glands occur in the substance of the leaf and contain an essential oil to which the flavour of the tea is largely due.

The undersurface of the young leaves is thickly covered with fine hairs which entirely disappear with advancing age. The beautiful white or rose-colored, slightly fragrant, flowers occur either singly or in clusters in the axils of the leaves; they are succeeded by more or less globular fruits consisting of capsules composed of three compartments, usually with only one seed in each compartment.

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