Tea (Camellia sinensis) is an evergreen shrub in the Theaceae family that is grown for its young leaves to make a water-infused beverage. Tea is the most popular caffeine-containing non-alcoholic beverage in the world and is second only to water in terms of consumption. The United States is the third largest importer of tea in the world after Russia and Pakistan with 3.9 billion gallons consumed in 2021 in the United States.

In the United States, tea can be grown in the USDA Hardiness zones 7, 8, 9, and 10 where the temperature range is 70-84 ℉ and with high rainfall. Environmental variables including elevation, rainfall, shading, soil type, and temperature affect tea flavor and can impart unique characteristics to the final product. Awareness of the potential to grow tea and increased demand for locally produced crops create opportunities for Washington tea production. And demand for tea plants creates an opportunity for the Washington nursery industry.

Research Highlights

Our research project is focused on developing effective propagation techniques and guidelines that are suitable for our region and can be adapted throughout the United States.

Fact Sheets

Tea Plant Sources

China type and Assam type are the two major categories of tea plants. Selecting cold hardy tea plants (China type) is the most important consideration for tea planting in the Pacific Northwest region. Assam-type tea plants need much warmer growing regions. Only a few nurseries on the west coast have tea plants for sale and are listed below:

  1. Andy Barr in Seattle;  Phone: +1-425-230-7002.
  2. Diane Emerson in Vashon island; Phone: 206-567-5492; Cell Phone: 206-234-4813.
  3. Minto Island Tea Company in Oregon.
  4. Nuccio’s nurseries in southern California.
  5. Bella Vista Tea Company in Shasta County, CA.

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