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Tea is crafted from the leaf of a tropical shrub called the tea tree. There is only one cultivated species, but this species has many varieties, the majority of which originate in China. In order for the tea to be of good quality, the climatic conditions, as well as the quality of the soil, play an important role.
The tea leaf grows on an evergreen tree called "Camellia Sinensis" which literally means "Chinese Camellia". Native to China and India, the Camellia family has more than 80 different species. The tea tree can naturally grow to more than 20 meters in height but is often pruned to about 1 meter above the ground so that it can easily be picked for buds and the upper leaves. The tea tree becomes productive from the age of 4-5 years for a period of about 50 years and the tea producing countries are located between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn with altitudes reaching 7000 meters.
Weather conditions are very important for the tea to be of good quality. The ideal climate would consist of cool nights, regular and dry winds, and a temperature that does not exceed 30°C. A temperature below 10°C would compromise tea culture. Soil also plays a very important role in tea culture because soil must be neither limestone nor clay. The tea tree, with a root that sinks deeply into the soil, is more easily acclimated to acidic, permeable and nitrogen-rich soils.
A standard tea leaf measures between 3 and 20cm. Serrated and elliptical in shape, a leaf's upper side is bright green while the underside is much lighter. The tea flower is composed of 5 to 7 white petals and a yellow heart and the buds are covered with a light whitish down called "Pekoe".
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